Dateless and Deathless

by Raghavan Iyer @ Theosophy Trust


DATELESS AND DEATHLESS


Having taken as a bow the great weapon of the Secret Teaching, one should fix in it the arrow sharpened by constant Meditation. Drawing it with a mind filled with That (Brahman) penetrate, O bright youth, that Immutable Mark.

The pranava (AUM) is the bow; the arrow is the self; Brahman is said to be the mark. With heedfulness It is to be penetrated. Become one with It as the arrow in the mark.

Mundaka Upanishad  

Dateless and deathless, the intricate impulse works its will.

Rupert Brooke     

 To become a man of meditation is to master the Science of Spirituality, which may be approached by any aspirant who is in earnest pursuit of the ageless truth. All human beings are consubstantial with the very highest in the cosmos. All human beings are also continuously interacting, through the ceaseless flux and efflux of life-atoms in their enveloping vestures, with everything that exists. This dual participation in time and timelessness is central to the attempt of any person to raise his or her sights, to arouse the power of spiritual awakening, to go beyond all categories, including even the subtlest intellectual conceptions. The essence of the inmost core of being, the self, is inseparable from the Self of the whole and the Self in each and all. Whenever a person makes such an attempt, he is not in the same position as at any other moment. No human being can be sundered from other human selves owing to the constant interaction of life-atoms, and every human soul participates, in principle and in practice, in all the states of being of all beings that are now alive, or were embodied upon this earth.

 From this enormous universal perspective, one can see that most ordinary thinking, even concerning spiritual life, is way off centre, what the Hopi Indians called koyaanisqatsi, out of balance, reeling, badly requiring radical readjustment. It is based upon an emphasis on a minute portion of oneself bound up with present preoccupations and feelings, passing emotions and desires. Owing to limited specific aims, people hold extremely foreshortened, fragmented and distorted conceptions of themselves. When this fact is coupled with the endemic tendency to manufacture a delusive personality out of habits, wants, memories and fears, one comes to see that most so-called human life is a sorry disappointment to the immortal soul. Yet, whilst every human being must live in the world for the sake of spiritual growth -- for there can be no growth without participation -- no human being need be lost. Every human being must to some extent participate in the world of illusion, in the whirl of change, and therefore in the realm of ever-conflicting and ever-changing thoughts, feelings and desires. This does not, however, alter the fundamental fact that every human being is perpetually rooted in That which is beyond all time and worlds.

 In the Upanishads this paradox is portrayed by the metaphor of two birds in a tree -- the one busily pecking at the tree's fruits, the other serenely watching from above. One's true Self is a spectator in eternity, seeing everything from a universal and eternal standpoint that is unmodified by mental conceptions and undisturbed by fleeting emotions. It is witness to the captivity of the other bird in the world of illusions, a participating and fragmented mind, which is by turns passive and assertive, frightened and aggressive, grasping and gasping. Once one recognizes that there is a deeper core in one's being which does not become involved in the world of time, change and reaction, but is able to reflect upon the entirety of what happens to all the lower vestures, then one begins to recognize in oneself a principle of transcendence and a true basis of aspiration.

 There is no unbridgeable gap between the two perspectives. The potential awareness in the bird that is caught in illusions of the other bird as its true Self will make a crucial difference in its ability to relativate its plane of perception. From the perspective of the Science of Spirituality, which is grounded in the ontology of objective idealism, everything in the universe is the result of ideation. All forms, at every level, are, at root, expressions or manifestations of pure ideas. Two important consequences follow from this: first of all, there is an interpenetration of all worlds through ideas; and secondly, there is in every human being a power to step aside from self. Through ideation, one can abstract and remove oneself from seeming captivity to the world, and instead of doing this involuntarily through sleep or death, or intermittently through emotional or intellectual ecstasy, one can learn to do this consciously, constructively and as a matter of spiritual discipline.

 If one can think this through, not merely in relation to specific contexts and particular situations, but in terms of all manifested existence and the entire sphere of objective phenomena, one will come to see that there is an illusion inherent in the manifested world itself, and that its relative reality is only the result of ideational participation, involvement through a lesser ideation, by the Self in that world. In other words, though the metaphor of the two birds or selves is helpful, one is, in reality, only one being with the power of ideation. The concept of the scale of ideation, ranging from the absolute and abstract to the particular and concrete, is directly reflected in the constitution of the human mind. The distinction between the divine intelligence of higher Manas and the personal ray of the same mind is really a difference between sets or classes of perceptions. One can look at anything passively by comparing and contrasting, obsessively, and from within a narrow spatio-temporal framework. Or one can loosen the framework and look at the same thing from a larger perspective, in relation to the distant past and what may be in the dawning future, in relation to what is deceptively near or far, but also in relation to certain intimate feelings and enduring convictions that are actually much closer to oneself than the dominant emotions or idée fixe of any particular context.

 These capacities to alter perspectives, to expand horizons and to deepen perceptions all spring from the fundamental capacity to ideate. At its very deepest core, the Self is eternally ideating and eternally watching, but this vital truth is obscured by the extent to which one becomes wholly identified with the participating and reacting self. The projected ray, itself the product and proof of the power of ideation, becomes permeable to external sights and forces which appear to be inescapable because they affect one's inner feelings, states of mind and persisting moods. Affecting one's astral system and the extent to which it is stretched or strained or loosened, this immersion in and identification with lesser planes of ideation distorts one's tone of voice and spreads a film over one's vision, clouding everything one sees.

 All of this represents an obscuration of one's true Self that is the effect of complex karma. But when one begins to be able to recognize this and understand what one has done to oneself through neglect of true meditation over lifetimes, one can move away from this initial duality and seek the beginnings of authentic meditation upon the OM. Celebration of the OM is the central thread of the spiritual path and of the quintessential hermetic current. Celebration of hymns of praise to the OM is the axis around which the entire work of the Great Lodge of Mahatmas turns, and it is a celebration on behalf of and among intrepid individuals who are willing to become men and women of meditation, consciously very aware of what the highest level of OM represents. The OM is the highest that one can conceive. The unbroken current of meditation of the true Self is also the supreme resource behind the whole of manifestation and THAT which is beyond manifestation itself. It is Nada Brahman, the divine resonance that becomes the vibrant vesture of the divine radiance of the Light of the unmanifested Logos.

 At its highest level, AUM is the Soundless Sound which becomes the medium of transmission for the Ineffable Light. The AUM is also the origin of sound in the world of manifestation, the most sacred syllable, the hierophantic leader of all prayers and chants, and the most important subject of all meditation. Thus, it may be seen in two ways. As a single letter uttered with one articulation, it is the OM, the symbol of the Supreme Spirit. One should imagine this as a constant, omnipresent sounding, capable of being consciously sounded within the consecrated temple of the human form. One should imagine it superimposed on all other sounds, all other vibrations, all other thoughts and feelings. To do so is to cooperate consciously with the great cosmic sounding of the One Resonance, but within the sphere and temple of one's own invisible vestures. OM is the Supreme Spirit, Ishvara, the Most High.

 Considered as the trilateral word AUM, consisting of the three letters A, U and M, as well as the crucial silent stoppage, it implies all the archetypal trinities and triplicities inherent in the manifesting Tetraktys. It is the three Vedas and the Vedanta. It is the three primary states of human consciousness, which are at one simple level waking, sleeping and deep sleep; it is also turiya, the state of supreme spiritual wakefulness. It is the three divisions of the universe invoked in the Gayatri -- bhur, which is the most material and visible realm, bhuvah, which is the indwelling, invisible counterpart of the visible, and svah, which is transcendental, ethereal and celestial in comparison with all that is astral and earthy. It is also the trimurti, the three ruling deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the mighty agents of creation, preservation and destruction, the three principal attributes of the One Supreme Reality, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda, the fusion of Truth, Ideation and Bliss. In this sense, the AUM embraces the entire cosmos as emanated and controlled by the Supreme Spirit, the Paramatman which is a pristine, primeval radiation from the Divine Ground, Parabrahman.

 At the highest, most para-cosmic and universal level, the Sacred Word is both the One and the Three-in-One. It is the OM, the single homogeneous sound which, whether uttered or unuttered, is the supreme sound, the One Sound behind all other sounds. Because it is a vesture of the one unmanifested Logoic Light, it is the source of all vibrations. It can also be seen as the triune AUM because, as human beings, all individuals are triune in nature and connected with the triune aspects of the cosmos -- the physical, the astral and the ethereal. But the AUM can also be related to the three aspects or interpenetrating phases of one single continuous activity which involves creation, preservation, destruction and regeneration. Just as one can postulate that Deity is independent of and prior to all worlds, and the universe itself, so too one can cognize the mirroring of Deity in Nature, in the cosmos, in the process of manifestation, as a triune AUM, which is then the source of all the many variegated combinations, permutations, collections and associations of vibrations that are involved on all planes of life. By deliberately moving away from the dualism of two selves, and towards the interrelated vibrations of the two AUMs, which are really one and the same, one may come to cognize the unmanifest behind the manifest, the substratum behind the mutable, and the indwelling, unmanifest, ever-existing spiritual source of life, light and energy behind the cosmic dance of Deity. It is ceaselessly at play, continually working through vast, immense multiplicity, constantly harmonizing, sifting and selecting, but also perpetually dissolving and destroying forms, and reaffirming endlessly the inmost, imperishable essence of Life.

 Thus, the Maitrayana Brahmana Upanishad speaks of the OM as:

 The Udgitha, called Pranava, the leader, the bright, the sleepless, free from old age and death, three-footed, consisting of three letters and likewise to be known as fivefold, placed in the cave of the heart.

 It is the end and aim of the deepest undercurrent of constant meditation, beyond all borrowed vestures and finite faculties, and one with the Highest Self. As an ardent apprentice in the science of meditation upon the AUM, one might start one's day by thinking of it in relation to the dawn of manifestation, corresponding to the moment when one awakens, arises from sleep and begins one's duties in waking existence. One could return to it around midday, again at sunset and again before going to sleep. Thus, one could give oneself four significant moments during the day, four precious opportunities to reaffirm the dateless and deathless, the bright, the bodiless, the indestructible, the immortal and invulnerable as one's inmost Self and the inmost Self of all that exists, but also as THAT which transcends the cosmos. If one aspires to adore the AUM, worship it, commune with it and become one with it, then the more one can contemplate it, chant it, feel with it and for it, the more one could think about it -- thinking until one loses oneself in the thought and feeling of its nature -- the better for one's constant current of meditation.

 The Maitrayana Brahmana Upanishad gives further food for reflection upon the object of worship, explaining that:

 In the beginning Brahman was all this. He was one, and infinite. . . . The Highest Self is not to be fixed, he is unlimited, unborn, not to be reasoned about, not to be conceived. He is like the ether, everywhere, and at the destruction of the Universe, he alone is awake. Thus from that ether he wakes all this world, which consists of thought only, and by him alone is all this meditated on, and in him it is dissolved.

 In other words, thinking about that Highest Self, one can fuse the three functions of the meditator, the act of meditating and the object of meditation. He is the object of meditation, but He is also the subject of meditation who gives the power to meditate. His self-subsisting essence is the sustenance of the power of meditation. The way in which the subject, the object and the activity of meditation are fused in Him as the Three-in-One represents the entire invisible, unmanifest universe veiled by the manifest cosmos. And that is true of each and every human being. Once one begins to focus on THAT which is all that exists, as in the wonderful songs of the poet-sage Namalvar, one will be drowned in Him. These people, those people, this man, that man, this woman, that woman -- none of these have any meaning other than Him. All hands are His hands, all feet are His feet, all eyes are His eyes, all minds are His mind. Everything thrills and throbs in the AUM because of the one indwelling, universal, ever-existent Light of the Logos. As the Upanishad says:

 His is that luminous form which shines in the sun, and the manifold light in the smokeless fire. . . . He who is in the fire, and he who is in the heart, and he who is in the sun, they are one and the same. He who knows this becomes one with the One.

 The sole prerogative and higher privilege of being human is the possibility of knowing, celebrating and adoring the Universal Self and beholding its triune nature within and behind all subjects and objects, as well as all their interconnections. To know that Self is to fuse everything ceaselessly and yet remain apart, alone and ever awake in the Night of Non-Manifestation, apart from the entire masquerade of manifestation. W.Q. Judge states, in commenting upon these passages from the Maitrayana Brahmana Upanishad, that

"to know" this does not mean to merely apprehend the statement, but actually become personally acquainted with it by interior experience. And this is difficult. But it is to be sought after. And the first step is to attempt to realize universal brotherhood, for when one becomes identified with the One, who is all, he "participates in the souls of all creatures"; surely then the first step in the path is universal brotherhood.

The Path, May 1886    

 To experience the elusive ideal of universal brotherhood as actual conscious participation in the souls of all creatures means thinking through as many lives as possible from the standpoint of the soul going through the school of experience and seeing all of them within a single universal pilgrimage. In another place, Judge underscores the intimate connection between ethically and psychologically inserting oneself into the pilgrimage of Humanity and the quickening of the power of meditation in the awakened soul:

 If we do all our acts, small and great, every moment, for the sake of the whole human race, as representing the Supreme Spirit, then every cell and fibre of the body and inner man will be turned in one direction, resulting in perfect concentration.

Irish Theosophist, July 1883    

 This fusion of thought, will and feeling, cognition and concentration, volition and empathy, so crucial to the activation of the true potency of meditation, is virtually impossible when predicated upon the nebulous notion of the personal self. But when seen as the living solidarity of all souls, all selves, all beings, in the one universal pilgrimage, it becomes buoyant and effortless, joyous and expansive.

 This is the golden thread inspiring and sustaining alchemical self-regeneration through meditation, and it lies at the core of the sacred meaning of the Gayatri, the holiest of all mantras, which begins with the deathless AUM and ends with the dateless OM.

 The object of this prayer is that we may carry out our whole duty, after becoming acquainted with the truth, while we are on our journey to thy Sacred Seat. This is our pilgrimage, not of one, not selfishly, not alone, but the whole of humanity. For the sacred seat is that place where all meet, where alone are all one. It is when and where the three great sounds of the first word of the prayer merge into one soundless sound. This is the only proper prayer, the sole saving aspiration.

The Path, January 1893    

 One can thus see that the very stance of an individual soul trying to become one with the Higher Self is only a way of stating what could equally be stated from the other side. The same process could also be seen as that of the universal Self entering into the receptive seeker, more fully suffusing every cell and atom of the surrendering devotee. The Gayatri invokes the True Sun of the Highest Self to unveil itself and illumine one's entire being. This hidden element of divine grace is vital to the operation of consecration, prayer and meditation because one's determination to learn the truth includes a fearless recognition that there is that which hides or veils it from one's vision. Only when the projected ray subordinates and surrenders itself to its divine parent can there be a release of intense, ardent, longing aspiration for the Supreme Truth, for the one Source, for the sacred seat of the ever-invisible, ever-existent Fire, which is the fountainhead of all Mystery Fires, ceaselessly burning throughout manvantara and pralaya, unaltered by the whole universe and unmodified by all conditioned existence.

 If this is inaccessible, it arises from the karma of past deeds, which have left the brain substance and fibres of one's being too opaque and too sluggish to respond to higher vibrations. If one is mired in a life of careless indifference and recalcitrant ignorance, unable to cooperate with the universal processes of Divine Life, it means that in the past one did not cooperate with and adore the Greater Mysteries, but settled instead for something small and tawdry, a delusive spell of self-adoration. Such a life creates a film or veil that estranges one's own feelings from the feelings of others, one's own concerns from the concerns of the universal pilgrimage of humanity. Failing in the custody and care of the divine flame within, one falls into that fickle carelessness which produces endemic passivity, extinguishing full awareness and plunging one into irresponsibility and the aimless drift of self-indulgence amidst the highs and lows of the insecure self. One becomes blinded and bound by a fundamental ignorance of the self-destructive, self-doomed nature of such an episodic existence, where the sacred power of mind is dragged down and made to enlist in the slavery of consciousness to the passions, to false distinctions between inner and outer, and also to an extremely narrow, ephemeral and unreal conception of space and time. Far from aiding the persona in its desperate plight, this infusion of a volatile mentality only serves to feed the vultures of the insatiable passions, and stokes the fires of multiplicity which can only produce a kind of chaotic screen that fogs, confuses and smokes out the light of true reason, hindering the hearing of the Soundless Sound. At best, there lingers a subliminal echo which can haunt but cannot heal. Thus all past karma has created a kind of captivity and a failure to understand illusions as illusions, yet this bondage is masked by a pessimistic pseudo-objectivity that declares a false finality to the conditioning of consciousness and a depressing fixity to the state of enslavement to delusion.

 That is why it is so crucial that in the very act of adoration, using the Gayatri, one utters a tremendous cry of the soul, which is a cry of spiritual freedom. But such a cry is useless at the moment of death. It is to be made now or never, by those who use the Gayatri unfailingly; it is a cry for clarity, a cry that the veil may fall, that the scales may drop from one's eyes, and that the obscuration of one's being may be dispelled. Therefore, it takes the form of the sound Unveil! Judge, in translating the Gayatri, has deliberately fused its actual meaning with a very powerful mantra in the Isha Upanishad, producing a ringing rendition which conveys the full force of the invocation:

 AUM. Unveil, O Thou who givest sustenance to the Universe, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, that face of the True Sun now hidden by a vase of golden light, that we may see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat. OM.

 The vase of golden light is the Hiranyagarbha, the cosmic sphere of Light around the secret, sacred Sun which is the true source of all enlightenment, all ideation, and all divine and supra-mental energy. It is only reflected at a very limited level in the physical sun, which is the source of what people call physical life or pranic vitality, and also what they call light. That light, however, appears bright only in contrast to physical darkness, and it is only an illusory light compared with the ineffable Light of the Divine Darkness that is the essential nature of the unmanifest Logos. Whilst the physical sun gives all the energy that people ordinarily understand, that pervasive energy must necessarily participate in the law of conservation and must also be subject to the law of entropy. The ineffable Light of the Logos, by contrast, is inconsumable and inexhaustible: it can only be the object of the highest ideation of a Manasa, an immortal thinking being who can light up the flame that is its priceless share in the universal fire of Mahat.

 The Gayatri can be extremely potent if it is used regularly every day, but it can only work when it is invoked on behalf of all living beings. It can become daily more intense as a regular act, a request or prayer, a kind of petition for grace arising out of the depths of the hidden hearts of the human race. Then it becomes a form of manifestation capable of summoning and activating the sacrificial ladder, along which travel the high Dhyanis, Devas and Hierarchies that move up and down the great rainbow bridge invoked by all the Vedic hymns. Being the Matriveda, the mother of the Vedas, the Gayatri is venerated as the highest possible mantra. It enables every human being to reach out on behalf of all Humanity, ardently to the One Source. By doing this again and again, one becomes attuned to that to which one appeals, and familiar with the avataric descent of the Divine Light and the shedding of its supernal grace.

 If human beings start to use the Gayatri daily whilst their motives are yet sullied, they are in awesome danger. They risk summoning forces that will be too strong to resist or to regulate, and they will need the ever-present protection of the Rishis and Mahatmas, who are likened in Upanishadic metaphor to the ribs of an umbrella sheltering all beneath. Every human being holds the handle of this umbrella, but its ribs belong to all Humanity, for they represent the highest hierarchies of enlightened human beings who are conscious instruments of the Cosmic Will. They are the supreme divine agents of the One Law, the One Life and the One Light, and through their boundless compassion they can protect and provide opportunities to human beings, who suffer from glaring gaps between their moral stature and their mental aspiration, between their spiritual strength and their emotional stamina, between their longing for union and their communion with the One. The compassion of perfected human beings gives strength to the weak. And it gives hope to those who are sometimes awed or made afraid by the enormity of their undertaking.

 Yet, whilst this allegorical umbrella provides a measure of assured protection to the fallible aspirant, enlightened beings cannot vicariously substitute for the self-conscious effort each individual must make for himself or herself to maintain the mysterious thread of life's meditation as a constant vibration. There must, however, be honesty and moral courage in recognizing the avoidable gaps in one's practice, and a clarity in discerning tendencies that make one vulnerable to delusion through likes and dislikes, delusive affections and false dependencies. One must become vigilant against the simian tricks that memory plays, and against the perverse tendency to misuse the power of thought to produce rationales which only consolidate the discontinuities in oneself. All of these persist as concessions to that part of oneself which is drowsy, lazy, cowardly and terrified of the Light; that part which is terrified of standing up confidently and moving apart from the inert mass of most beings. Before one can become a true man or woman of meditation, and so a true servant of Humanity, one must first become, in a Pauline sense, separated out of the astral and psychic plane -- a being without external signs of slavish connections with human beings. One must go through the Isolation of the immortal soul, a painful period of withdrawal from lesser supports. Only then can one attain the height of what is possible, reaching the pristine source that is above the head, and that, once touched, eventually sets aflame the thousands of latent centres that are in the head, the legendary Tree of Light, Life and Cosmic Electricity in Man.

 Long before this turning-point is reached, one must render reliable the steady effort to meditate. Thus it is said that if one cannot initially meditate upon the most abstract themes, one should begin by meditating upon meditation itself. Meditate upon the great Masters of Meditation, enjoying the very thought of the Buddhas of Contemplation, self-luminous beings who are masters of compassion and ceaselessly radiate currents of beneficence. In the very enjoyment of meditating upon the galaxy of Dhyanis and the host of Mahatmas, one will elevate oneself, expanding one's horizon, one's sense of kinship and one's conception of the human family. One will be thrilled that the human family can include such a vast array of self-resplendent beings, and one will begin to see this world anew.

 Then, when one earnestly meditates and finds multiple obstructions arising, one will be able to see them for what they are and honestly trace them to their origins in forgetfulness, indolence and cowardice. At the same time, one will understand that the very ability one has gained to stand apart from these shadows is itself rooted in a recognition of that which is all-knowing, unforgetful, ever awake, courageous, free, untrammelled and universally self-conscious. Even though one's deeper Self must be repeatedly invoked, one will still find a certain joy arising in oneself, a certain natural desire flowing out of deep love for that universal Self. This is the true source of all other loves and the only thing that can ultimately give meaning to all one's other altruistic urges. It is the well-spring of one's empathy for all life, for all the kingdoms of Nature, for what is in every stone and plant and tree. It is that in oneself which can resonate to the rising sun, can respond to the setting sun, and can echo back to the invisible Midnight Sun. All these are but veiled expressions of a deeper universal current of energy which is compassionate, which is sacrificial, and which is consciously emanated by the Masters of Light and Love, Compassion and Wisdom.

 When one begins to develop a natural joy, hunger, longing and love for this mystic meditation, one will find that it acts as an eliminator. Many of one's lesser longings will simply fall away, and one's vanity, delusion and ego-projection will be revealed and emptied out. Yet, what was good and true at the core of them will never be lost, for that is an outflow of the fount of universal love which belongs to the Paramatman, the universal Self. If this meditation is real, it should arouse and deepen one's capacity to be one-pointed -- single-minded and single-hearted -- able to concentrate upon the appointed task at hand and able to consecrate it for the good of all. Letting go of all results, reducing one's participation in fantasy, anticipation and regret, one will become more fully engaged, more fully active and wide awake. With this, a great deal of what before looked to be oneself will become exteriorized, come out and fall away. It will all show itself for what it is -- a mask, a veil. And layer by layer, veil upon veil of false selflhood will fall away until nothing remains but the one ineffable Light. It is beginningless and endless. It is the Light that is hidden in the Divine Darkness, behind all worlds, beings and manifestations. It is the One Light behind every spark of aspiration and every spark of truth, beauty and goodness in each and every being in existence. It is the Light of which Jesus spoke when he said, "If thine eye be single, thy body shall be full of Light", and it is the Light spoken of by Krishna as the lighting up in oneself of the Supreme Saviour, who then becomes visible. Let each fearless pilgrim soul meditate upon that Light which lives in all as the Highest Self. Let each devotee concentrate upon it in adoration, surrendering and subordinating all to that one fiery Self. And let each heroic seeker after undying truth will to work for its eternal habitation in every human heart.

 And now thy Self is lost in SELF, Thyself unto THYSELF, merged in THAT SELF from which thou first didst radiate.
 Where is thy individuality, Lanoo, where the Lanoo himself? It is the spark lost in the fire, the drop within the ocean, the ever present ray become the All and the eternal radiance.
 And now, Lanoo, thou art the doer and the witness, the radiator and the radiation, Light in the Sound, and the Sound in the Light.

The Voice of the Silence    

Hermes, October 1987
by Raghavan Iyer