Selections from the Upanishads

He knew that Brahman is bliss. For truly, beings here are born from bliss. When born, they live by bliss. And into bliss when departing, they enter.

-- Taittiriya Upanishad 3.6.1

The face of truth is covered with a golden disc. Unveil it, O Pushan, so that I, who love the truth, may see it.
O Pushan, the sole seer, O Controller, O Sun, off-spring of Prajapati, spread forth your rays & gather up your radiant light that I may behold you of loveliest form. Whosoever is that person (yonder) that also am I.

-- Isha Upanishad 15-16

I have overcome the whole world. I am brilliant like the Sun.
He who knows this, knows the secret wisdom.

-- Taittiriya Upanishad 3.10.5

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Atheists & Rationalists

It might be inferred, from what I’ve written in my previous posts, that men & women who endorse rationalism, atheism, & even Violence are, by that very reason, anathema to me.
Infact, it’s not so.

The rationalists, atheists, & even those who give a qualified acqueiscence to Violence, can be wonderful people, who deserve all our respect & admiration. I personally adore many of them.

My father is an atheist (for all practical purposes), and I myself was a staunch atheist-rational-egoist a few years back.

Certainly, today I think many of these people are mistaken in their views: but their philosophy has its own justification, its own powerful basis in reality. And a large number of them are people with enormous character & strength. They possess all those great virtues which we admire in a Man: aspiration to do something meaningful in life, tremendous endurance & tenacity, inexhaustible benevolence & deep respect for the sacrosanctity of the human personality, a strong sense of justice & an intransigent integrity, a passionate concern with ideas & indefatigable industriousness, independence of consciousness & a keen sensitivity to the finer things of life.

There are also many of them who lack generosity, tolerance (a quality which is an abomination to all mindless fanatics), ability to forgive & forget, and a self-induced callousness & cruelty. This, however, is not the rule, though it isn't the exception either.

So if I do indict rationalism, atheism, and Force & Violence - it's not necessary that I condemn & hate all rationalists, atheists, & the ones who give a QUALIFIED acquiescence to Force & Violence.

When it comes to atheists, I'd love to quote Victor Hugo, from "Les Miserables":

"There are, we know, mighty & illustrious atheists. These men, in fact, led round again towards truth by their very power, are not absolutely sure of being atheists, with them, the matter is nothing but a question of definitions, and at all events, if they do not believe in God, being great minds, they prove God. We hail, in them, philosophers, while, at the same time, inexorably disputing their philosophy."

Nothing could be truer, and no attitude of mind - healthier.

Take for instance the atheists who reject the existence of God by defining God as "Consciousness". While some modern philosophers might have made the gross error of calling God "Consciousness" - the fact is that this is not the definition of God at all, and never was. Not a single scripture has defined "God" as "Consciousness" - a relatively modern term, which evolved about the 17th century CE - with no strict correspondence in the ancient world. If one has to understand what God is, one has to go back to the source, the texts where this conception took its first complete shape, to those hoary sages & prophets & mystic-seers, almost non-existent for two millennia, who actually understood & apprehended God. They never do so. They can never extract any sentence from any primeval scripture which DEFINES "God" as "Consciousness" - and which defines Consciousness, or the procedure by which the definitions have been established. This is another example of the sheer ignorance & WILFUL REFUSAL of the so-called Rationalists, who pride themselves on focusing on "objective" reality, to search for the complete truth. Have they STUDIED the scriptures? Examined each & every statement & word in its depth? Been initiated into the mysteries of mystic knowledge? Pondered for years over the immortality of the soul? Known how & why the scriptures were written, and why only hieroglyphs & symbols were used, and not plain explanation of ideas? The real meaning of allegories & symbolic fantasies?

An appalling majority of them neither bother, nor think they ought to bother - and yet are ready to spit on, & malign, & misrepresent spiritual truths - condemn the scriptures & all mystic-seers - unload gallons of abuse on them & deny them a hearing - attribute the vilest & falsest of calumnies & conspiracies to them - or at best, dimiss them with repulsive pity, or a sarcastic laugh.

Truth & Reason?

Take for instance the absurd idea of the atheist-rationalist that "God is Unknowable". They reject God because they somehow think that according to the mystic, God is "Unknowable".

But then, how does the Vedantic seer say "Aham Brahmasmi" (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Yajur Veda) - "I am Brahman"? How on earth did he KNOW?

How does he say "Ayam Atma Brahma" (Mandukya Upanishad, Atharva Veda) - "This Self is Brahman"? (Self as in "Atma") How could he know without knowing Brahma (i.e. Brahman)?

Or take for instance the "Katha Upanishad". How does it make a statement like:- "When all desires that dwell within the human heart are cast away, then a mortal becomes immortal and (even) HERE HE ATTAINETH TO BRAHMAN."

Or, how does Yagyavalkya say:-

"Knowing that immortal Brahman, I am Immortal."

"They who know the life of life, the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear, and the mind of the mind, they have realized the ancient primordial Brahman."

The absurd, groundless hatred directed at India, and Indian ("Hindoo") culture becomes comprehensible only when one grasps that Indian civilization, philosophy & mysticism completely & totally demolishes the whole false structure of modern western Atheistic Rationalism, founded as it is on half-truths, distortions, misrepresentations, outright lies, and a laughable, pitiable ignorance. This hatred is to be found directed at the Orient in general - though it requires merely the effort to find a few good books, & now, a few websites, to see how passionately life-affirming, creative, inexhaustibly fertile, productive, & active - Oriental civilization (as also a large majority of Meso-American civilization) always was.

The rationalist, above all, seeks measurable, verbal, tangible & communicable CERTAINTY, not Absolute Truth. He doesn't like anything foggy or intangible. (Is it a concidence that the word "mystic" is so close to "misty"?) There's a great degree of weight in such a desire. Spirituality invariably descends into something as messy as black magic, astrology & prophecy, an obsession with karma & amulets & trinkets & talismans, and ALWAYS gets corrupted by aligning itself to politics & business. All this however, still does not negate the ultimate truth of scriptural wisdom. Nothing that is truly great is easy to achieve, the path is always very, very difficult - and if only a man or two can accomplish what Albert Einstein & Isaac Newton could (in the realm of intellect), only very few people can accomplish what Jesus or Lao Tzu did (in the field of spirituality). The difference lies in that in the realm of intellect, once an Albert Einstein or Werner Heisenberg has accomplished the original task, the rest of humanity has to merely understand the results, & repeat or apply, & at best, add to what they've given. I do not have to BECOME Einstein & repeat his struggle every step of the way, to understand what he did. I do not have to actually achieve his achievement. Not so in spirituality. Being a discipline of self-spiritual-development, each man has to BECOME Jesus or Sakyamuni, and do all that these men did, to achieve what they achieved. This is infinitely more difficult, and hence, while all of us may understand the Theory of Relativity, all of us can't see things clearly from Jesus' perspective. THIS is the crucial difference between mere intellectual striving, and spiritual self-development.

Certainty is not rejected by mysticism - but tangible, measurable certainty of the BASIS or starting-point of one's PURPOSE is. I really have no clue, in terms of realization with my whole being, if Brahman exists, though I CAN establish Its existence logically i.e. intellectually. And while I can percieve subtle changes in my whole being through the whole process of Yoga, it is only when I actually attain Moksha do I know that: Yes! Brahman IS, and THIS is Brahman. There is no greater certainty than this, in a Man's life. The point is that the rationalist thinks that only the Measurable & Finite exists, though, by his own terms, the Universe itself is Immeasurable (in time & space), and hence, Infinite. To the proposition that the non-measurable exists, for e.g., in emotions, or, in the phenomenon of consciousness itself, all he can do is vomit barrels of abuse on mystics as mind-haters, life-haters, man-haters. He avoids the infinite because of fear & underconfidence, or (in certain cases) the desire to mislead people & to propagate his own agenda, not because of rationality.

He does not seem to appreciate the idea that THAT which is the root & cause of, & the force behind & uniting ALL laws, all forces, all phenomenon, all forms, all levels of existence (both matter & consciousness), all of time & space - can neither be percieved by any one, or any combination, of sense-organs, or analyzed by the mind, and is not measurable, since it comprehends all measurement. It is apprehended, in its turn, by the whole being of Man, and not any specific separable part or element in him, or any limited combination of them. Hence, it cannot be tangible, or communicable (as an explanation of its specific, separative features or workings), or reduced to mathematical formulas.

This post has reached that point, where it would be undesirable to stretch it any longer, so I must halt. The thrust actually was, that the atheists & rationalists whom we come across in life (except certain specific ideological groups, or cults), are NOT people to be hated, or rejected, or disrespected. They are often excellent human beings, who truly seek the welfare of the world, and work hard for it. Their hatred against mysticism is often founded on a mistaken confusion of the obscene corruption of organized religion & certain mystery cults, for spiritualism itself, or the actual esoteric, mystic wisdom itself. But Innocent III is not St. Paul, and some pot-bellied, pig-tailed, saffron-robed, greedy, obese Brahmin spitting venom on Untouchables & lamenting that some member of a lower caste crossed his shadow, is not Veda Vyasa or Krishna. Jesus did NOT institute the Roman Catholic Church. The man who said "I and My Father are One" is not the man who established the Inquisition, and there is no deeper, ideological connection between their views. The hatred directed against the corruptions & falsehoods of organized, dogmatized religion is justified, and sacred - but the rejection of the baby with the bathwater is either innocently but seriously erroneous, or outright evil. In either case, it can have disastrous consequences, unless redeemed by an all-embracing Christian love (like that in the atheist Baba Amte) - by a passionate reverence for human life - by a fiery zeal to expand the human mind in its quest for ever-increasing comprehension of Nature's deepest laws & those of the totality of human life, i.e. for greater & greater Knowledge - & by a vast love for the liberation of the human mind, conscience & life unto ever-widening Wisdom & Truth.

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