Absolute: “… through true spiritual practice, the ‘breath of infinity’—the Absolute—can rise to our perception from the depth of our soul, in the silence of a peaceful, clear consciousness of Self …” ~ Hans Meijer
At the outset, we again, express our deepest gratitude to the COVID-19 Frontline Responders : all the healthcare professionals – doctors, nurses, hospital/medical-services staff – firefighters, law enforcement, volunteers, and any/all the people involved in keeping the “system-at-large” functioning for ALL of us.
THANK YOU – our lives would not be possible without your dedication.
As we’ve said before Go Fund Me has organized various campaigns to help with the COVID-19 relief efforts. All of them are worthy endeavors but for now we wanted to highlight TWO critical ones that I (Sanjiv) received via email and donated personally and also as Stillness Speaks:
For the first campaign, please visit our post Kindness: Buddha & Dalai Lama & COVID-19 to find out how you can support these frontline responders through a Go Fund Me campaign.
And here are some excerpts from the 2nd campaign – America’s Food Fund …
“… Our most vulnerable populations face great barriers to receiving safe and consistent access to meals during this crisis.
To support the people most in need during this difficult time, we’ve teamed up with Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs to create America’s Food Fund. Donations to this fundraiser will help World Central Kitchen (WCK) and Feeding America so they can provide meals to people who have been impacted by COVID-19. …”
You can read more on the GoFundMe page for America’s Food Fund … we are all facing financial challenges but if your situation allows you to donate and help this critical effort then please do so.
We began this multi-part series with an overview (the Preface) of Hans Meijer’s book Initiation Into Reality: Truth Revealed Again… and in part 2 of the series Hans makes the case for the value of eastern wisdom … and then delves into the topic of The Absolute … which is completed in this part 3 … he closes part 3 with a brief introduction to Advaita Vedanta …
Before we continue with part 3, it is worth acknowledging that humanity’s primary (if not sole) and current focus is on navigating this global crisis triggered by the coronavirus … so any exploration into our true nature needs to be tempered by the pandemic. Hans offers some thoughts in relation to the current COVID-19 crisis:
“A global tragedy such as we are experiencing now will evoke many people’s desire that our society should really change now. This desire is not new, after every war, health- or economic crisis the hope occurs that everything will be different and better from now on.
But please, consider this: real, lasting change is only possible if the fundamentals of our culture are based on recognition of and respect for our human, spiritual essence.
As you may agree, this is not the case in our society.
In this context, it is great that Stillness Speaks offers this “platform of wisdom”, on which I would now like to emphasize:
our (mostly hidden) spiritual essence is sacred and wants to manifest itself in life. To clarify all the confusion that exists around this reality, please realize that attuning our thinking and acting to adapting to the “primal cause of life” brings us closer to experiencing our spiritual essence, our deeper (true) Self.
In the ancient Eastern cultures the concept of Dharma was developed. Dhar (Sanskrit) comes from to sustain, to support. Ma refers to primal cause (ma, mother).
Thus, the concept of Dharma encourages us to support nature (as far as we cannot accept a primal cause) and our fellow human beings, rather than exploit them (which can lead to tragedies like the current ones).
So, if we really want to contribute to “a better world” then this desired change will have to be based on “supporting the primal cause”, on Dharma.
In this context I would like to point you to one of my earlier posts on the Primal Cause: The Need for Renewed Spirituality.
In the hope that you see the connection between the Primal Cause, and the essence of your own life, I wish you much peace of mind and good health, while reading this 3rd part on Initiation into Reality, in which I try to speak about the Absolute, the Primal Cause”.
~ Hans Meijer
We are including a downloadable copy of the Table of Contents PDF which allows you to see what other related content is covered by Hans in the book.
Hans has previously guest authored for us … click here for all of his earlier posts.
All italicized text below is from Initiation Into Reality … and is published here with Hans’ generous permission.
Part 2 closed with 2.04 The Absolute – b) To Fathom the ‘Great Void’ Is Not Possible … so we continue with 2.04 c) …
2.04 The Absolute
2.04 c) The Relationship Between the Absolute and the Human Soul
To start with, what is the relationship between the Absolute and the human soul? This relationship is investigated in the Vedanta philosophy. In Vedanta there are three points of view concerning this relationship:
1 Total identity of the human soul and the Absolute (non-duality, Advaita Vedanta)
2 Unity, but no identity of the human soul and the Absolute (Vishisht Advaita)
3 The Absolute as God, separated from man (Dvaita Vedanta).
It is not my intention to discuss these points of view in detail in this book. But I do want to guide you through these ‘complementary’ points of view, in order to make you understand how the reasoning of the ancient Hindu sages can lead to the insight into ultimate Reality.
If someone has not yet found God, he/she will—if religious— believe that God is ‘somewhere’ outside of him/her (the third point of view). As God is not known, the two other points of view mentioned above will have no meaning for him/her.
Amazing, isn’t it, this belief in a God who is not known. On what is this belief based? The world is a vale of tears and we see no God to help us and put an end to all suffering. Is it based on the hope that there is a God and that everything will turn out fine in the end? Is it because of our fear that if there is no God, everything is meaningless? Or is there something else? Does man have an intuition, a primal instinct, a deep longing for a deeper Reality than the visible reality alone? I think that this is the case. If the belief in God were based on hope alone, this belief would have disappeared long ago, considering human history. In all ages, however, there have been people who have ‘attained’ God and have witnessed to this in their own way.
If we realize that faith in the existence of God is a primal instinct, and that there are always people who confirm the existence of God, surely we can no longer be content with believing in a separate, unattainable God? But what can we do then? We would dearly like to experience unity with God (the second point of view), but why don’t we succeed? Is it because, in our era, society is submerged in materialism instead of spirituality? Are there no true Gurus anymore?
It is a fact, however, that through true spiritual practice, the ‘breath of infinity’—the Absolute—can rise to our perception from the depth of our soul, in the silence of a peaceful, clear consciousness of Self. If we have an experience like this, at first this seems to be something outside of us, but we are that! It is through the realization that in the depth of our soul we have a connection with that which is eternal, that we become aware of our ‘relationship’ with God. This awareness means a deep insight into the nature of existence. If THAT is the origin of our being, surely we should live in harmony with ‘It’ as much as possible! But why don’t people do so? Thousands of years ago, the Rishis already said that people do not know ‘It’, that they are ‘ignorant’ about the true nature of existence—Reality.
The conclusion on this level (the second point of view) is as follows: man is, in essence, ‘Divine’ (God-like), but the Divine in man reveals itself only to the extent that man expresses this in his/ her thinking and actions (Dharma). So the Absolute, the origin of all that is, has become man (and all other forms of life), but this Divine origin is only expressed to a limited extent. In other words, there is union of the human soul with the Absolute, but no identification on account of the very limited revelation of the divine qualities in man.
This second point of view, however, was not the final conclusion of the Rishis philosophical search. Meditating and observing, the yogis penetrated deeper into the depths of their own soul. With their attention focused on the ‘Self’, they understood the Absolute to be immanent as well as transcendent. This means that Reality was perceived as the inner soul (inside, immanent) which at the same time was the outside cosmic soul, the Absolute (outside, transcendent). Inside turned out to be outside and outside turned out to be inside.
This vision is exactly what the Rishis want to express with the holy sound of OM, written in Sanskrit as ॐ. This symbol, the sound of the Absolute, represents the Divine eternal Reality with which the Hindu knows himself to be united in the depth of his soul.
At this level of Self-realization, human thoughts and emotions are seen as transient, and therefore as not real. With the consciousness focused on infinity (OM), the enlightened yogi considers everything that is changeable to be relative and unreal compared to THAT (which he experiences himself to be in essence). This leads to the first point of view mentioned above—total identity of the human soul and the Absolute.
The difference between this and the second point of view is that whatever is seen from the second point of view as being ‘not Divine’ is considered from the highest level qualified as being ‘not real’. From this level of insight, all our thoughts and worries are nothing but obstacles to be overcome on our spiritual journey. At the highest level of insight, we can conclude that the human soul is in essence the same as the Absolute. The relationship between the Absolute and man can therefore be formulated as: the Absolute has become man, man is the Absolute.
Although it is not given to many to be able to ‘unravel’ this mystery, it is very likely that it happens (how frequently I dare not say) that in the last moments of life (when all ego nonsense is seen to be meaningless) people receive the ‘grace’ of the liberating insight into Reality, which enables them to depart (‘coming Home’) in peace.
d) Does the Absolute Have ‘Characteristics?’
Now that I’ve tried to explain the relationship between the Absolute and man, I will next look at the nature of the Absolute as such. Does the Absolute, as ‘highest person’—the timeless source of all that lives—have any characteristics, or is ‘It’ without characteristics?
All living beings have the Absolute as the foundation of their existence. The Absolute is the source of energy that manifests as the human beings that we have become. However, if we experience the Absolute as our highest Self, the Absolute seems to be one and without characteristics; nevertheless, all our actions (preceded by emotions and thoughts) arise fundamentally out of the Absolute. Although we don’t know this, all our striving for ‘happiness’ (in all the various ways in which we interpret this fundamental longing) is a striving for the experience of union with our deepest Self. (For the explanation of why this is so, see Part III, Tantra.)
As mentioned earlier, the more we adapt ourselves to Dharma (see also Part IV), the more we live in harmony with our inner ‘Self’, the Absolute. In that way too we can say that our characteristics are indirectly those of the Absolute. So, from our point of view, we can say that the characteristics of Dharma (as life should be) match with the essence of the Absolute. Only in that way we can talk about ‘characteristics’ of the Absolute.
e) Can the Absolute Intervene in Our Lives?
Earlier on I said that God can only intervene in our lives if we allow God into our lives (if we live in harmony with Dharma). This opinion may seem too simple to you. You think that you are living according to Dharma, but you do not see God intervening in your life. Why is this so? To live in harmony with Dharma means a lot more than you should superficially think. The whole of life is a gigantic revelation of the Absolute, a continuous stream of Dharma (natural good). We should be able to see ‘It’ (the Absolute) in the eyes of a child, a sunset, human compassion, love, spiritual wisdom, the (pure) air that we breathe, etc. In short, the whole life cycle of birth and death, growing up, getting older and everything that happens in this cycle is, as Dharma, an expression of the Divine in the world. It is a gigantic process of spiritual growth through which the Absolute reveals itself in the material (the world). The more we become ‘seers’ (this means seeing the Absolute as ‘cause and purpose’ of all the events of our life) the more we see that it is God or the Divine who is present and who offers us countless opportunities to ‘adjust ourselves’ to life as it is meant to be. In that sense, if we could see ‘truth’ as it is, we would be able to see how God interferes in our lives. The more we ignore the given opportunities the less we experience the Divine in our life. We can use the following metaphor: the needle of the compass of our lives always points in the direction of the Absolute but in our ignorance we continually end up off course. Sooner or later, this creates suffering and then through reacting to the always present ‘course corrections’ of God we can find the right direction again.
f) If the Absolute is ‘Perfect’, Why Then is There So Much Misery in the World?
The answer to this question should be clear now. As said before: man is ignorant about the Reality of his/her existence. This Reality is: the human soul is identical to the cosmic soul, the Absolute. By lack of knowledge about the ego—the ‘I’ (see Part IV)—we get stuck in the spell of the outside world. Because of this, we direct our life energy, with which we are lavishly provided, to that outside world. By our identification with our thoughts, we put all our energy in the many stimuli that come to us from the outside. It is obvious that the less we are ourselves, the more we react to these stimuli.
Living in the sphere of relativity, the world of duality, man throws all his energy into the daily battle, often with inhuman consequences as a result. And extreme inhumanity so often ends in the madness of a war. From this, you can see how dangerous the mass ignorance about the Reality of life can be.
There have doubtless always been many good, positive people, who have not understood why God allows so much wrong and misery to happen. The answer to all such questions is: all evil results from ignorance (about Reality) and God, that is to say, the Absolute—Reality—can only intervene in the world as far as man lets this happen through himself, in his/her own mind.
Above, Hans explained the concepts Brahman, Atman and Maya. Next, Hans continues with these concepts, in relation to Advaita Vedanta.
2.10 Not Two
Up till now we have introduced and explained three concepts. These are: Brahman, Atman and Maya. Although they are different, they are different aspects of one Reality, Brahman, or the Absolute. If we want to translate this trinity into concepts of our culture, we can say, ‘God (Brahman)’, ‘the Holy Spirit (Atman)’, and ‘the world (Maya)’.
Now we have come to know these three concepts, we can proceed with possibly the most profound philosophy there is: Advaita Vedanta. The word ‘Advaita’ literally means, ‘not dual’. This means that all that is, in essence is one, not two—not different. As I explained earlier, in the end everything is Brahman, the One. The word ‘Vedanta’ means: the ultimate (anta) knowledge (Ved).
So, the Advaita Vedanta is about the ultimate knowledge of non- duality (or one-ness) as laid down in the sacred books of the Hindus, the Vedas (dated 3000-4000 years ago).
These old Hindu scriptures contain mystical hymns and rituals. As the Vedas developed, they became more and more philosophical—and, in the end, monotheistic. What was expressed was that everything that exists has ultimately one and the same Divine source (God)—or, in other words, ‘Everything that exists originates from One’.
Superficially, this may seem contradictory to the many gods and goddesses in Hinduism, but it is not because the Hindu considers these gods and goddesses as different aspects of one cosmic, divine principle—Brahman. So when we talk about Advaita Vedanta, we talk about the teaching of oneness, as expressed at the end of the Vedas. When we want to study Advaita Vedanta, the deeper meaning of concepts like Maya, Brahman, and Atman, the differences as well as the similarities must really be understood.
Although this may appear to be only ‘intellectual work’, it gives much more. One starts seeing many things in a different way. Through this knowledge one sees connections and begins to understand things that were not perceived before. Still, in spite of this gained in-depth knowledge, this is not yet insight into Reality, or enlightenment.
The student who now understands what Maya is and who now knows that Atman has the same essence as Brahman, now has as his/her only aim to come to know Atman. So the question for the initiate is, ‘How can Atman in its unity with Brahman be uncovered?’ I purposely say ‘the initiate’ because it makes no sense to practice the following meditation technique if you don’t know what mystic secret (the secret of unity in all diversity) is going to be revealed. So, the question can also be formulated as, ‘How do I discover the divine spark, which is supposed to be in me, which I seem to be myself?’
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Stay tuned for more … the next part will continue sampling of the book-contents through subsequent sections …
All italicized text above (between the block-quotes) is from Initiation Into Reality … and is published here with Hans’ generous permission.
To get a signed copy with a personal message from Hans, the book can be ordered through his website (http://www.initiationintoreality.com/to-order).