Deity in Action

by Raghavan Iyer @ Theosophy Trust


DEITY IN ACTION


Absolute Unity cannot pass to infinity; for infinity presupposes the limitless extension of something, and the duration of that "something, and that One All is like Space – which is its only mental and physical representation on this Earth, on our plane of existence – neither an object of, nor a subject to, perception. If one could suppose the Eternal Infinite All, the Omnipresent Unity, instead of being in Eternity, becoming through periodical manifestation a manifold Universe or a multiple personality, that Unity would cease to be one. Locke's idea that "pure Space is capable of neither resistance nor Motion" – is incorrect. Space is neither a "limitless void", nor a "conditioned fullness" but both: being, on the plane of absolute abstraction, the ever-incognisable Deity, which is void only to finite minds, and on that of mayavic perception, the Plenum, the absolute Container of all that is, whether manifested or un-manifested: it IS therefore, that Absolute ALL.

The Secret Doctrine, i 8
H. P. BLAVATSKY

It is fruitful to consider the Ever-existent Absolute and everything that is intrinsically relative in the light of the distinction between unity and infinity, eternity and periodicity, the relationless and that which is inextricably bound by relations. First of all, absolute unity is beyond infinity as spatial or temporal extension, even if boundless and endless, for it transcends polarization into infinite and finite, unbounded and bounded, which are correlative terms. It is important to grasp this truth fully and clearly, and to assimilate it completely, so that anyone can readily acknowledge the Rootless Root which is beyond perception and conception, images and ideas, beyond the fleeting and fickle awareness of objects and subjects, and even beyond the Creative Logos, the One Source and Ground of all manifestation. Each and every human being can say truly within the silence of the inmost heart:

I am I. I am the perceiver, the spectator, the eternal witness, intact and unmodified, attributeless, sui generis. I am Brahman, Brahman am I. I and the Absolute are one, always and forever, in all spaces and conditions and contexts. I am No-Thing, absolute voidness, shunyata, nirguna brahman, in a constant state of nir-vikalpa samadhi, changeless amidst all change, beginningless and endless even amidst births and deaths, in a state of parinishpanna, supreme self-awareness as the One Self- Existent.

Oral Instruction, Maitreya Seminar, September 25, 1987

Secondly, Universal Kosmic Mind ever abides, both during pralaya and manvantara. It is immutable, unmodifiable – the plenum of infinite potentials. This unconditioned consciousness becomes relative consciousness or mahat periodically at every manvantaric dawn. The Mahatma, who is not only one with mahat – the mind of the cosmos – but also attuned beyond mahat and primordial ahankara to the Universal Mind, is in a state of serene turiya, supreme, total, spiritual wakefulness. He is undistracted during manvantaras, undisturbed during pralayas, ever retentive – smartava – of the pristine vibration of the manvantaric dawn during cosmic and human evolution. This state of serene, absolute awareness is beyond the relativities and polarities of consciousness, which are merely modifications and manifestations of the One chit, the Supreme Ideation behind and beyond all creation, all change and all transformation.

Thirdly, if one of the ways in which we can distinguish the Absolute from everything relative is that the Absolute always stands out of all relation to anything, and the relative is always in some relationship or the other, then mind at any level of manifestation will be inextricably involved in relations and relativities. Thus, understanding and mastery of the nature of those networks of relations matters a great deal to one's effective capacity for self- transcendence. True knowledge or the highest wisdom ever sees what is essential among hosts of inessential, secondary and tertiary emanations, whilst rejecting nothing and assigning a proper place and new significance to each and every form, colour and number, polarity and relativity. Always aware of the quintessential distinction between internal and external relations, and the continuous modification of each through the other, which determines the regulated flow of kundalini shakti within the etheric astral spine, the Mahatma is fully able to overcome the process of transmigration, as well as to transmute it during voluntary and partial incarnations into this world. This is tattvajnana – the knowledge of tatvas or essences – but especially in relation to the adhitatva, the one Supreme Element, the one Fohatic Force behind all forces, the one Reality behind and beyond all appearances, from the most sublime, the most rarefied, the most ethereal, to the most mundane, the most tangible, and the most immediate.

Given all this, anyone can see how human consciousness must move to higher levels through a steady increase in its reflective awareness of its own relations and relativities, as well as through the progressive awakening of its own fundamentally unmodified nature. In practice, these two processes are inseparable. The Immortal Spectator goes through a series of progressive awakenings from lesser to greater horizons of awareness, from derivative causes through primary causes to the Ceaseless, Causeless Cause, and from primary relations to the Three-in-One, which radiates from the Ever-concealed One. The Self-moving Soul graduates through identification and attachment to the transient to greater identification with the "One without a second", beyond form, beyond colour and beyond all limitation. The sovereign means of egoic self-mastery is through threefold meditation upon indivisible mulaprakriti – the indestructible Root Substance – upon the unmanifested Logos, the source and synthesis of the primary seven Logoi, and upon the one Fohatic Force of universal ideation behind and beyond cosmic electricity and cosmic eros, cosmic magnetism and cosmic radiation. Such meditation is a constant abidance in the never manifested but ever-existent Three-in-One, beyond the divine dance of the One Logos or Krishna-Shiva-Christos, and the seven planes or forty-nine states of conscious existence.

Karma is Deity in action – the eternal, divine pulsation and breathing of the Absolute. It is the Unknowable at its Rootless Root, but it is partly cognizable as a law of eternal causation and ethical retribution, mirroring and maintaining the universal unity and total interdependence of all gods, monads and atoms. On the three formless arupa planes, and on the four planes of conditioned consciousness and modified ever-changing matter, it reflects absolute harmony, justice and compassion. These are ceaselessly mirrored in the workings and manifestations of karmic sub-totals, embodied in the vestures, the ideational causation of all beings, the networks of interrelations between the seven kingdoms and all the beings therein. Karma is the progressive driving force behind cosmic and human evolution and involution, and, as such, it is inexorable, impersonal, universal, irresistible, omnipresent and omnipotent. Self-conscious monads can cooperate with this Law, but they cannot cancel or supersede it. Every instance of working against the Law, consciously or unconsciously, is an inevitable precursor of pain and suffering, disillusionment and disappointment, persisting ignorance and delusion, which must eventually culminate in self-alienation and the doom of total self-destruction. For finite minds, the operation of karma must be understood as relative to past and to future, to context and condition, to planes of consciousness and states of matter. This intrinsic relativity is due to the subject-object relation-ship, which must vary with all planes and sub-planes, with all states and sub-states, with all globes and vestures, with all degrees of apprehension, and all levels of awareness, ranging from atoms to worlds, from infusoria and living organisms to the myriad stars and galaxies. Thus, the vast order of relations is inclusive of all possible worlds, all orders of being, and also the cosmic hierarchies extending downward from Dhyanis to devas and devatas, from the Demiurge and the Divine Host of Builders to all the elementals that belong to the invisible cosmos behind the visible universe.

Anyone's understanding of the Absolute and the relative, as it applies to the philosophy of perfection, depends upon the grasp of this fundamental theory, difficult and abstract though it may be. Perfection must be relative to the vestures and conditions experienced by monads, as well as the degrees of unconsciousness, partial self-consciousness, and even universal self- consciousness of thinking beings – ideating selves – in a world of differentiating objects and multiple agents and selves. There can be no static final perfection. Humanity can and should understand and enjoy the host of perfections as consummations of the repeated use of skills, of faculties, and of instruments of cognition and action. Such growth and maturation come through self- correction, through learning from the lessons of life, and as the result of experiments with limited truth in changing contexts. Absolute perfection must pertain to universal self-consciousness in the highest possible and conceivable sense. It is meaningful precisely because of the existence and living reality of Those who have attained to that state. But even such Beings, when embodied in available vestures at any given time, and when working with the available materials on any globe or in any period of evolution, must take on the relative imperfections of the race or the age in which they incarnate. At the same time, Their voluntary incarnations vindicate the promise and the possibility open to all egos of perfecting conditions and vestures, whilst honouring, serving and reaching out to the Knowers of the Three-in-One.

Even the mention of absolute perfection requires one to take several steps upward, metaphysically, to consider Absolute Being, Divine Thought and the ideal Kosmos. Firstly, all are helped to consider Absolute Being by an extraordinary and challenging question raised by H.P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine:

As the highest Dhyan Chohan, however, can but bow in ignorance before the awful mystery of Absolute Being; and since, even in that culmination of conscious existence – "the merging of the individual in the universal consciousness" – to use a phrase of Fichte's – the Finite cannot conceive the Infinite, nor can it apply to its own standard of mental experiences, how can it be said that the "Unconscious" and the Absolute can have even an instinctive impulse or hope of attaining clear self-consciousness?

Here is an important reference to the error of absolute idealism in its modern form, which has tinctured philosophical thought for the past three centuries. The error of absolute idealism consists in the view that the Absolute, being equivalent to absolute mind and absolute freedom, can be known by thought and emulated by the conscious ego, which is wholly autonomous as a mirror of the Absolute. Even Fichte fell into this error, though he saw that the infinite cannot conceive the finite, and also that, compared to what we call consciousness, the Absolute must be the Supreme Unconscious .

Schelling, on the other hand, stressed the inconceivability of the Absolute, even though he felt it must be the object of true philosophy in its search for a science of the Absolute. Hegel criticized Schelling's view as an empty abstraction, whilst Schelling in turn dismissed Hegel's attempt to ascribe absolute attributes to the Absolute as panlogicism. Hegel was concerned to distinguish between different phases in the Absolute, from supreme unconsciousness to self-consciousness. If God is asleep, how to wake him up? If the Absolute is unconscious, how to get things moving and produce self- consciousness in itself, let alone in the world? This concern of Hegel, to distinguish between different phases in the Absolute from supreme unconsciousness to self-conscious alienation from itself in the world of appearances, was prompted by his wish to describe its recovery of full self- consciousness, in history and in the world, through all its emanated rays. Hence, he felt compelled to speak unphilosophically of the Absolute as capable of becoming self-conscious, or at least of having an impulse towards self- consciousness, and he used this conception to explain the dialectical unfoldment in time and history of various phases of the Absolute.

By contrast, the highest Dhyanis and all Mahatmas, who are tribeless and raceless and belong to no single religion except the religion of the One, recognize the absolute transcendence by the Absolute of even absolute consciousness or Divine Thought. They therefore show that the highest gnosis heightens the joyous sense of wonder and reverence, the ever deepening of states of Silence, and an open-ended agnosticism that sees beyond all worlds, all systems of thought, and even the highest possible conceptions of even perfected human beings. The finest statement of this Teaching given in eighteen million years is by Rishi Sanatsujata, the Initiator of Initiates, in the Mahabharata. He explains that Silence is meditation, Silence is the atman, Silence is the AUM. There are clearly depths upon depths in the highest meditations and the deepest silences, and the Soundless Sound points beyond itself, just as all sounds point beyond themselves, to the Silence of the Soundless Sound. This is the unknown darkness of the Absolute, the Divine Darkness that is beyond worlds and must ever surround the Absolute in its absoluteness. Its absoluteness is known as parabrahman, the emphasis being on para – beyond – as the shloka said of Buddha at the close of the Heart Sutra:

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

Gone, gone, gone beyond,
Gone to the other shore, O Bodhi!
So let it be.

Secondly, in relation to the exalted conceptions of Divine Thought and the ideal Kosmos, H.P. Blavatsky explained in The Secret Doctrine that:

It is only with reference to the intra-cosmic soul, the ideal Kosmos in the immutable Divine Thought, that we may say: "It never had a beginning nor will it have an end." With regard to its body or Cosmic organization, though it cannot be said that it had a first, or will ever have a last construction, yet at each new Manvantara, its organization may be regarded as the first and the last of its kind, as it evolutes every time on a higher plane.

Whilst there is no first or last in the appearance of worlds, epochs of manifestation and subsequent periods of nonmanifestation, the cosmic process is not a mechanical repetition of cyclical recurrence for two important reasons. First of all, the ideal Kosmos can only be partially and imperfectly reflected in any series of actual universes. And at the same time, secondly, there is a progression in awareness and in modes of substance between manvantaras, owing to the inexhaustible potential contained in the all-sufficient ideal Kosmos. Yet, whilst the intra-cosmic soul, the ideal Kosmos in all-comprehending Divine Thought, is beginningless and endless, it is not the Absolute. Divine Thought itself represents the highest knowledge accessible, beyond which lies the unknown darkness of the Absolute.

Thus, one of the highest mysteries lies in the fact that the Absolute finds its highest expression in its greatest Knowers, the wisest Beings throughout the ages. Further, this mystery is reflected in the relativity of time itself, wherein each time-bound epoch of embodied existence is dependent upon a prior cause. It also represents a unique manifestation that can never be exactly duplicated. In this sense, even the relative reality of each epoch of manifestation must have an immense sanctity, one which is in no way diminished by the consideration of preceding and succeeding epochs, or even by the contrast between actual manifestation and the ideal Kosmos in the Divine Thought. This is important, because when most people think of progression, they tend to think in a utilitarian and time-bound manner of succession as supersession. The latest must be the best, apparently, and yet is itself only a means to an end, a higher state in the future. To think in this self-contradictory way is to misunderstand completely the Absolute, the realm of the relative, and also the mysterious concepts of mirroring and inevitably incomplete incarnation. This persistent error arises out of the failure to see that the supremely transcendent Absolute is also ever present in anything and everything existent. The Absolute is universally immanent.

To take a time-honoured example, much favoured by all the Rishis and Sages, who are poets and seers as well as philosophers and renouncers, the leaves of a tree are similar and also subtly different, each radiating, especially when newly sprouted, the freshness of its uniqueness. Each tree is also unique, and one can imagine that from the seed of each healthy evergreen tree there may arise trees that are even finer or grander than those before. But the quintessential sap in every tree that springs from the seeds of its predecessor is the same. It is the primordial sap, which is inexhaustibly potent. Similarly, seekers of enlightenment have to recognize and revere the all-potent sap of the Absolute, as well as the inexhaustible fecundity of the ideal Kosmos, potentially present in the Absolute. They must venerate the inconceivable richness and diversity of unique expressions of ideal forms, as well as the ever-expanding and ever-deepening awareness of all the myriad hosts of hierarchies, from the highest and most homogeneous to the lowest and most heterogeneous, from manvantara to manvantara. This is what Plato meant by the statement that time is the moving image of eternity. It is a celebration of endless continuity as well as infinite diversity amidst the seeming discontinuities in the realm of appearances. To know this is to live in the Eternal Now. Every atom is sacred, and so too is every grain of dust. Just as the Absolute beyond all absolutes is sacred, so too are all the omniscient Knowers of Brahma Vach, regardless of all the variations among them, and even differences of degree in universal self-consciousness.

This sense of limitless sanctity throughout all manifestation brings the true seeker of the OM to the mystical and powerful idea of the Diamond Soul of the Avatar. One could think of and see the Avatar as a shining Jewel, precipitated from the Absolute into the realm of the relative, a Jewel so multi- faceted that all sentient beings may find means of approach by some aspect of the Light that it compassionately radiates in every direction. As Krishna, the Purna Avatar and the paradigm of all Avatars – who are all one and the same – states, "In whatever way men approach Me, in that way do I assist them." Sacred texts speak of the alchemical and therapeutic influence of the Avatar upon all three worlds, and upon all beings belonging to all the seven kingdoms of Nature, as well as upon the entire host of three hundred and thirty million devas and devatas. At the same time, they also speak of the Avatar as achyuta – as inseparable from the mysterious Spiritual Sun, with its immaculate seven primordial rays. Despite the divine Avataric descent and the universal diffusion of supernal light, there is that which neither descends nor differentiates, but is close to the inmost fiery core of the One that never comes or goes but Ever Is, the Self-Existent. There is also the statement in the Bhagavad Gita that all Rishis and Mahatmas, all Dhyanis and devas, are contained within the Divine sphere of the invisible universal form, the vishvarupa of the Avatar.

Behold, O son of Pritha, My myriad divine forms in their hundreds and thousands of variegated colours and shapes.

Behold the Adityas and Vasus, Rudras and Ashvins, and also the Maruts. Behold myriad wonders never seen before, O son of Bharata.

Behold here and now the whole world comprising the moving and motionless, abiding as a unity within My body, O Gudakesha, and whatever else thou wishes to see.

Thou canst not see Me with this thine eye alone. I give thee the Divine Eye (divya chakshu). Behold My yoga as the God of all.

Bhagavad Gita XI.5-8

This Sacred Teaching helps one to understand, at some level, the beautiful image of the Diamond Soul, the divine essence of absolute truth, who is Vajradhara, the holder of the weapon of righteousness, and also Vajrapani, especially to his close disciples. He is the compassionate holder of the Jewel of Wisdom, which becomes the Way and the Path for those who are willing and in earnest, as well as the elixir of immortality and the philosopher's stone for highly developed souls who are ready for further initiations into the Mysteries. The same esoteric teaching is also behind the trikaya doctrine of Mahayana, the three vestures of dharmakaya, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya. The first corresponds to the state of nirguna brahman, the second to the state of saguna brahman, and the third to the state of Mahatmas and Bodhisattvas, who live in this world, unseen and unknown but ever helpful to all souls who are ready to receive the light of truth, wisdom and compassion. At another level, there is also a similar secret teaching in regard to the simultaneous triple incarnation of a perfected enlightened being, as a transcendental Buddha, a mediating Bodhisattva, and an incarnated Teacher of Enlightenment. All point to the ineffable, inconceivable and inexpressible Absolute, the supreme, transcendental Source of all light, all life and all love.

Now, the intuitive today must look at the Absolute Godhead and relative self-consciousness because the Avatar is a fact. What about the Avatar or the Mahatmas as an ideal? There is the priceless instruction:

"Paramartha" is self-consciousness in Sanskrit, Svasamvedana, or "the self-analysing reflection" – from two words, parama (above everything) and artha (comprehension), Satya meaning absolute true being, or Esse. In Tibetan Paramarthasatya is Dondampaidenpa. The opposite of this absolute reality, or actuality, is Samvritisatya – the relative truth only – "Samvriti" meaning "false conception" and being the origin of illusion, Maya; in Tibetan Kundzabchi-denpa, " illusion-creating appearance".

The Secret Doctrine, i 48

Paramarthasatya, like the Absolute, is supreme, transcendent, universal self-consciousness, the One and Only Self-Existent beyond all worlds and beings, all states and conditions. But paramarthasatya is correlative with samvrittisatya, and thus refers to the continual cancelling of all that is evanescent, fascinating and enslaving. It refers to the transcendence of all that is deceptive and alluring in the realm of appearances, relativities and relations, the realm of relative truths, partial truths and falsehoods, of unrealities and illusions. All these elements of samvritti can give rise to errors, but nowhere more persistently and poignantly than in relation to the sin of partial and partisan selfhood, the sin of separateness from the whole and from all other parts. This can be countered by a vigorous dialectic of continual negation, such as that taught by Nagarjuna. It ever demands the voiding of all false conceptions, entities and selves, coupled with the ready willingness to enter the Supreme Void, the Divine Darkness, wherein is hidden the ineffable light that is nameless and formless, signless and shadowless. That light of the Logos, Daiviprakriti, is best worshipped in the silence of the secret sanctuary of the spiritual heart, which mirrors the compassion of the vajrasattva, the Diamond Soul.

Jnanayoga, the path of Divine Wisdom, involves ever-deepening levels of vision attained by the Seer, but Divine Wisdom cannot be a subject for study in any ordinary intellectual sense. It may be an object for search, however, once one awakens in oneself the desire to begin the search and learns how to sustain the light of enquiry. True enquiry must begin in self-enquiry and must persist until, as veil upon veil lifts, there is an acceptance that there will be veils upon veils behind. The pupil must persist in the progressive discovery of the distinction between the Self and non-self, willing to see that seeming life is really death, and that what seems to be non-being leads to true being. This painful and persistent search for the one Self hidden in each and all beings, worlds and conditions will eventually lead to the recognition, at some stage of one's quest, that one is both the subject and the object of the search, because transcendent Divine Wisdom is within oneself and it is also in each and every noetic soul on its great "pilgrimage of necessity." Within oneself is the entrance to the sanctuary of the cosmic Heart, the Supreme Self, the omnipresent AUM who is Ishvara, the paramatman, known ultimately as parabrahman, the sole source and sine qua non of Deity in action in the manifested cosmos.

The mysterious mirroring of the Ultimate Reality is itself the mighty and magical power of maya, the creative capacity of the Logos, and the source of illusory manifestation. This means that the polarity of paramartha and samvritti, of nirvana and samsara, is ultimately mayavic, and that the true path of Divine Wisdom cannot be a mere negation of manifestation as illusion. Thus the twentieth century Tamil poet Muruganar states:

To cling to the void and neglect compassion is to fall short of the highest path. To practice compassion is not to abandon the toils of existence. He who is mighty in the practice of both passes beyond nirvana and samsara.

This Sacred Teaching is the Secret Heart of Gupta Vidya, and is central to the purest and highest Mahayana teaching of the Gelupka tradition in Tibet. It was reaffirmed in this century through silence and speech by Shri Ramana Maharshi, who urged one and all who came to him to keep searching for the origin of the "I-thought" in asking the age-old question "Who am I?" until it dissolves in the attributeless Supreme Self in the Silence, which is Wisdom-Compassion. It alone can give the true strength to do one's dharma, the best one can in this world of samsara, whilst abiding alone, aloof and apart in the blissful awareness of the vestureless state of nirvana, supreme non-doing, or pure being.

Once one sees that samsara can be equated to samvrittisatya, and that nirvana can be equated to paramarthasatya, one may apprehend the nature of the Highest Path. Both samsara and nirvana are states of mind. What humanoids call this world is a state of mind. Because both samsara and nirvana are states of mind, they may therefore be seen as contrasting states of consciousness – samvrittisatya corresponding to the realm of relativities and relative truths, and paramarthasatya to the realm of the Absolute, the transcendental, the dateless and deathless, the ever existent. In deep sleep, in meditation, in times of the deepest silence and stillness and during the calm of ceaseless contemplation, anyone who is pure and patient can touch the threshold and have a taste of nirvanic completeness. While in waking consciousness and in chaotic sleep, souls are tossed upon the tempestuous waves of samsaric existence, which is transient, conditioned, provisional and probationary. It is solely meant for the soul's learning of the lessons of life.

The Highest Path must represent the dissolution of all dichotomies and dualities, and the transcendence of the very contrast between two worlds – the world of time and the world of eternity, the world of matter and the world of spirit, the world of temporal change and the world of timeless duration. If the former is only a veil upon the latter, mortality is a mask for the immortal ray of the Supreme Logos in the cosmos, and the world of appearance serves merely as a School of ceaseless renunciation and disinterested performance of duties. In it all disciples may learn the relinquishment of the acquisitive karma of results, as well as skilful means, in the sacrificial application of Divine Wisdom to each and every atom in every sphere of ever-moving life. The Path to serene enlightenment is secret and sacred because it cannot be seen from the outside, and cannot be told by words or conveyed through acts. Yet it is that to which everything points. Anything can intimate the AUM to the meditative soul in the Silence of the spiritual comradeship of those who have chosen Krishna-Christos, saluting and emulating the Knowers and Exemplars of Brahma Vach.

Hermes, September 1989
by Raghavan Iyer