Archive for May 2014
Those who recognise the illusory nature of the forms, forces and actions in the world and wish to find salvation through identification with the Supreme, have often resorted to the simplest response; namely, abandon life and action and the working of desire, focus on the silent, immutable Self of existence, and essentially “cut the knot” of the problem. This approach is the basis of the various meditation or retreat based paths toward salvation.
Others take the approach that action of some sort is necessary, but that there are those actions that are to be considered better than others, and in particular certain types of action, such as undertaking warfare, are to be strictly avoided. Within the context of this implied hierarchy of action, salvation is possible. This is the path that is generally considered to be salvation through “good works”.
The Gita takes an approach that avoids both of these…
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Sri Aurobindo, in his magnum opus The Life Divine resolves the contradiction between the way of the ascetic and the creed of the materialist by declaring that the Truth of existence incorporates the ideals sought by each in a unifed whole which he called “Reality Omnipresent”.
There are certain traditions in the Buddhists Tantra, particularly the Mahamudra, Dzogchen, the “great symbol” that recognize that Samsara, the world of multiplicity, the illusory world operating on the principle of desire, and Nirvana, the world of unity and absence of desire, are both present “here”.
The Gita itself integrates the Upanishadic dicta of “One Without a Second” and “All This is the Brahman” by its unwavering focus on the Oneness of all existence. The Gita does not recognize the apparent duality as being ultimately real. Whatever the apparent differences, the Divine Spirit occupies the world, makes up the entire multiplicity of forms and…
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The Gita applies the paradigm of thesis–antithesis–synthesis in addressing the apparent contradictions between the status of the Akshara Purusha, silent, immobile, unaffected by life in the world, and that of the Kshara Purusha, involved in the activities of Nature, and apparently bound by desire and the action o the Gunas and suffering as a result. The Gita proposes another status, called the Purushottama, which incorporates both that of the Akshara and the Kshara, and finds in that new status the reconciling principle that allows them to be seen as complementary aspects, not contradictory and irreconcilable opposites.
As long as the soul is totally immersed in and involved in the actions of the Gunas of Nature, it cannot attain to the status of the Purushottama which would liberate it from its bondage to nature. Those who recognize this have tended in the past to focus on attainment of the status of…
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Liberation in the Gita’s view is an inward state of awareness that is above the action of the Gunas, not bound by them, although the individual still participates in their action in the world. Arjuna therefore wants to know how one can recognize such an individual. What is the distinguishing set of characteristics that signify someone who is “above the Gunas” as opposed to someone who remains bound by their action.
As could be expected, Sri Krishna does not provide outward signs, but inward indications, as Sri Aurobindo recounts: “The sign, says Krishna, is that equality of which I have so constantly spoken; the sign is that inwardly he regards happiness and suffering alike, gold and mud and stone as of equal value and that to him the pleasant and the unpleasant, praise and blame, honour and insult, the faction of his friends and the faction of his enemies are…
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The limiting mind which tries to see everything in black and white will take the Gita’s statement that we must obtain liberation from our bondage to the action of the three Gunas, and, combining it with the statement that the entire development and activity of the world of nature is under the control of the action of the Gunas, determine that we must therefore abandon all life and works in order to achieve liberation. And in fact, this approach has been widely seen and adopted in the past as the path to liberation, leading to what Sri Aurobindo elsewhere has called “the refusal of the ascetic”. There is of course a potent rationale behind this approach, but in the end, it is not the approach recommended by the Gita! Arjuna has raised this option and been told to remain in the world and carry out his destined tasks.
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The human tendency to categorize and define leads us to look at individuals and designate them as being “sattwic”, “rajasic” or “tamasic” individuals. It is important, however, to recognize that no person is completely one or the other, and further that the Gunas are always in flux. We each have a combination of all three Gunas operative, and based on whichever one predominates in a particular circumstance, we get a commensurate result. Those individuals who characteristically have one or another Guna predominant are so designated; it is important to remember that due to the ever-changing relationship, no one, however well established in a habitual response, will always have that predominant quality in the forefront.
Sri Aurobindo reviews the Gunas: “The three qualities are a triple power which by their interaction determine the character and disposition and through that and its various motions the actions of the natural man. But this…
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Posted May 10, 2014on:
Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,
It gives me immense pleasure to announce that R.Y. Deshpande’s new book A Look at the Symbol Dawn: Observations—Comments—Discussions is now available at Overman Foundation.
Sri Aurobindo’s epic Savitri opens with the Symbol Dawn and immediately in the first two sentences poses the problem of this creation. It says that the Gods are not yet awake and that the mind of Night is standing in the way of the divine Event. The divine Event is the manifestation of a new creation upon earth, manifestation in the mortal world. If that is to happen then the mind of Night should be first dislodged from the path.
But how? The book answers this question.
Comprising 400 pages, A Look at the Symbol Dawn: Observations—Comments—Discussions is available at a price of Rs. 400 (Four Hundred) only.
To place an order for A Look at the Symbol…
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