Coming true before God

In the Gītā, Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna to abide by five states: ‘nistraiguṇyo bhava! nirdvandvo bhava! nityasattvastho bhava! niryogakṣemo bhava! ātmavān bhava!’

Triguṇa stands for the three qualities of matter. Traiguṇya refers to the objects that possess these qualities: that is, all material objects. The first state (nistraiguṇya) is to emerge unattached from hankering for material objects. This state is achieved by recognizing the difference between the body and the self, the material and the spiritual.

Detachment leads to equanimity which is the second state, nirdvandva: to remain calm and peaceful when stimulated by the dualities of  pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc. One can understand this by carefully noting that the spiritual self is unaffected by almost anything and all sensations, perceptions and emotions arise in and due to the body/mind.

The third state is nityasattvastha: constantly abiding in truth. This is the most transformative of the five states, a kind of phase shift from a lower level of consciousness to a higher level.  What is false in the Vedānta is not the physical or mental world. What is false is the misidentification of ourselves with physical/mental constructs. This is Māyā or the great magic where an entity as pure and beautiful as the conscious self starts thinking, I am human, He is so mean, I am so angry, etc. and suffers. The word ‘māyā’ literally means magic or something that is full of wonder. The magic draws an illusion that confuses the true identity of the conscious self. The way to avoid this is to abide in truth. One abides in truth through equanimity and the wisdom of difference between body and self.

It is not possible to abide in truth without dissolving all the devices of the mind. Complete purity of the mind is necessary and this can come only in a state of no-grasping cultivated by equanimity. It is to become self-aware without letting the mind interpret that state of awareness. Allowing the mind to do this job leads to identification at the level of the mind. The mind is that permanent chatterbox of a friend we all have in our lives who has an insatiable urge to describe the obvious and talk out of turn.

Spirituality is a process of stripping oneself of every pretense thrown up by the mind, a condition of becoming completely naked in awareness. This is the state of abiding in truth.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavata-Purāṇa speaks about the Gopī-s becoming naked before Kṛṣṇa when He steals their clothes. Anyone who is familiar with Hinduism would find endless arguments from detractors about whether it is morally right to steal clothes – that too for a God – only to be matched by followers who invent baffling reasons to defend the act. The story is simply an account of God teaching the self to let go of its pretensions in the mind and come clean, to be oneself as one truly is. Stories of ascetics relinquishing all clothes are also not to be interpreted literally (as some have). They only teach what many traditions have always taught, If you are arriving before God, approach in completeness nakedness of awareness. The Purāṇas are full of accounts of so-called demons inventing devices to outsmart God and win their way, only to end up causing pain for themselves and others. They are not to be taken literally to mean that demons truly exist, nor are they to be dismissed as fairy-tales of a primitive civilization (a sad truth being that the old Vedic civilization had better urban & rural planning than some of our modern cities).

God or the ultimate truth is not accessed by mental constructs but by the lack of them. One does not commune with God by building mental security but through abject vulnerability. Such are those who are the poor, the humble and the meek, who do not keep grasping and accumulating, who are free of anxiety and abide in the truth.

Abiding in the truth leads to cessation of anxiety, the fourth state, niryogakṣema, where one is not caught in perpetual anxiety about accumulating and defending possessions selfishly.

This dropping of the effect of ‘māyā’ allows one to be oneself, ātmavān. Behold this miracle where anxiety transforms into love or bhakti. Kṛṣṇa teaches that it is only in love that God is comprehended. This love is not the emotional excess of attachment and desire which expresses itself as and feeds from various moods and sentiments. This is a state of love achieved by being oneself. The former is a product of the mind; the latter transcends it.

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Courtesy: Yugala Priya Devi Dasi who must have immense spiritual vision to paint like this

Communion with God is possible here and now, not in some enclosure or within some organization. The doors to this beautiful world are not in books or in houses. And here is the most radical of truths: the door to heaven opens on the inside.

The kingdom of God exists and thrives in our own state of awareness. Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna, that (self) is My highest heaven  (tad-dhāma paramaṃ mama).  Anything outside this is hell. And it is as simple as that.

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