In the last post, the nature of non-dual awareness leading to bhakti was discussed. A question arises as to why this awareness is necessary.
What is Brahman-consciousness?
It is the recognition that the boundaries we draw between one and the other are artificial. We are all appearances of the Brahman in matter, energy and spirit. We live in the Brahman. Where else could we live? The Vedic sage would announce, The Brahman is my home.
Some say that we are parts of the Brahman. But, one must be very careful about what ‘part’ means. We are not individual pieces brought together to constitute a whole. Since we are conscious entities disposed to identify and work with objects, we divide the world into the several. This is an artifact of the mind. Are there several objects? No. What we regard as several things are several expressions or appearances of one Brahman. The Brahman is not a thing to be constituted by parts or discerned through them.
Brahman-consciousness is the realization of kinship with everything there is. The hand does not poke the eye when the hand and the eye are from the same body. There is kinship between them. But the hand pokes the eye of another because of an absence of the sense of kinship.
The legal system and our sense of justice have largely become corrupted by the fancies of selfishness. Anything that harms me must be put down as violently as possible, and we can legalize it as long as a large number of us agree that it is right. Nations try to cultivate brute strength. They are all vying with each other to become more powerful, each with their own judgements of right and wrong. The greatest folly is being enacted in front of our eyes where we think that matters of truth and ethics can be settled by a display of might.
It has been the case in history that the more spiritual a civilization, the less inclined it becomes in cultivating physical might or sophisticated weaponry. The absence of external might is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. However, history tells us about how peaceful and civilized peoples have been run over by those with a thirst for power or wealth. In India, during the invasions of medieval times, we listen with a shudder to some spiritually blind poet extolling his master for exterminating a thousand saints and monks who were a distraction to his ‘noble’ pursuits. There are distasteful jokes about some saint or monk being tricked by a ‘clever’ fellow. When we pause to look around at the impact of all this cleverness, there is only pain, distrust, wounds, revenge, resentment and grieving. The world has been pillaged of her wealth to make some pretty cash for investors. Weapon business is good because it provides employment and promotes the economy. Birds can be grown in horrifying conditions and fattened for food. These are the expressions of our moral consciousness today. We may look down upon those incarcerated as sinners, but we ourselves, by our collective unconsciousness, are participants in nurturing this environment of violence.
The problem is obvious. Anyone, who becomes spiritually aware, becomes perceived as weak. I am not spiritually mature by any stretch of imagination but a good number of wise souls have already judged that I am not ambitious because I am insane, incompetent and impotent. Spirituality is for the weak, they say. In reality, it takes great strength to keep one’s courage and peace in midst of storm. The world is such that hurting another person comes more easily than understanding. Our superficial attractions are certainly a pleasure but only when they last. This is not naive pessimism, but the truth.
How can the external frailty and vulnerability of spiritual souls survive in an ambiance of hostility and closed-mindedness? The forces of spiritual blindness are exceptionally strong. An act of spiritual blindness can easily draw forth a response in equal measure and blind the other person too. It takes only a small spark of fire to burn down an entire store. It takes very little spiritual blindness to corrupt our hearts. Yet, in our world, acting unconsciously as a slave to mental patterns is more common than spiritual insight.
The only way for our deliverance lies in awakening in large numbers, leaders and peoples alike. Acts of violence, in their course of time, inevitably lead to pain. And this pain itself can become an opportunity to wake up. When one wakes up, one’s past self looks like a ghost.
An easier, less painful way to wake up, is Brahman-consciousness, a realization of kinship of oneself with everyone and everything else. It is a point of view where one is organically present in the All, always, naturally. In a sense, there is no real need to find reasons for cooperation or discover how we are dependent on each other for ordinary survival – this can surely be done, no doubt. The truth of our abiding in Brahman stands above all these concepts of the mind. Instead of individual success, we strive for collective harmony.
What does it mean to possess any object or thing in truth? Waving a piece of paper that several people have agreed to means nothing in truth. It is an expression of complete inversion of reality. In reality, we are at the mercy of everything – air, water, food, light, heat, etc. There is suffering when this reality in turned upside down and we behave as if they are at our mercy. We all belong to the Brahman, the Great, and live in it as aided by its conditions. There is no other possibility, no other truth.
As science progresses, technology evolves to put greater and greater intelligence and strength in machines, economy becomes an act of trickery. It is going to be so much easier to hire a robot to kill a human, however compassionate, and purchase the morality of that act with money. Our dull mass media would report, Extended intelligence capability engages with and diffuses target. Yup! That’s it! It may even be become a moment to celebration a ‘success’.
The choice rests before us. It has been there for a while but it won’t be around for long. We can either wake up now or decide to sleep forever.