Man is Eternity’s Breath.
We get experiences from science, scientific discoveries; history, historical revelations; philosophy, philosophical data; religion, religious doctrines. In these experiences, we see the presence of subject and object, essence and existence, vision and reality. But a mystic experience which is the immediate oneness transcends all such distinctions. This experience is the constant oneness with the Beyond, the ever-Transcending Beyond that always remains ineffable. Mysticism, poor mysticism! When it is oversimplified and underestimated, it comes down from its original sphere and stands beside religion. But even here at this point if a person is sincere and genuine, he will realise that his best religious experience is nothing more than an uncertain, obscure and faint perception of Truth. Whereas no matter what kind of mystical experience he is endowed with, he will feel the intensity, immensity and certainty of Truth.
We have also to learn that the religious ecstasy and the mystic ecstasy do not play the same role in our inner life. Religious ecstasy deals mostly with the human in us. This ecstasy is confined to the body-consciousness, the disciplined or undisciplined vital, the mind, illumined or unillumined, the heart, pure or impure. But the mystical ecstasy transports us at once into the Beyond where we are embraced by the Eternal Life, fed by the All-Nourishing Light and blessed by the Transcendental Truth.
Primitive religion offered ecstasy to the vital in the physical mind and in the desiring heart. Mysticism fully advanced is now offering its ecstasy in infinite measure to the liberated souls and in abundant measure to the souls who are on the verge of liberation.
Poor Hinduism, whenever and wherever mysticism is looked down upon, Hinduism is considered to be the main culprit. There are many sophisticated westerners who not only fail to understand the lofty Hindu mysticism, but badly misunderstand it. To them I want to say that the Hindu mysticism as they feel, is no self-hypnotism, no self-deception, but the soulful oneness with Immortality’s Life, Infinity’s Heart and Eternity’s Breath. To know Hinduism well, one has to practise Yoga, especially under the direct guidance of a spiritual adept.
Mysticism in Buddhism has been considerably inspired and influenced by the mysticism in Hinduism. Hence, far from being diametrically opposed, they practically come to realise the same Truth. Nirvana transcends pain and pleasure, birth and death. The blessedness of Nirvana is the highest mystic oneness with the liberator. A Hindu mystic, on the strength of his self-realisation becomes one with the Absolute and is freed forever from the snares of pleasure and pain, birth and death.
The Sufi mysticism of Islam expresses itself in the strongest intoxication in the inner vital and in the truth-laden symbolic love between bride and bridegroom. This kind of mysticism perhaps facilitates, to a great extent, the actual possibility of experiencing the oneness with the One and it also wants to tell us that the Allah of the Koran demands a strict self-discipline, self-controlled life. According to the adherents of this mysticism, to have a free access to Him at the same time is a very rare achievement.
The glowing mysticism of Judaism is the Kabbalah. This mystic lore is founded on the occult interpretation of the Bible and it has been successfully handed down as an esoteric doctrine to the initiated.
Christianity owes its mystical urge, not to Judaism, but to the Greek world. Some scholars are of the opinion that the New Testament is wanting in the mystical experience. I find it difficult to see eye-to-eye with them. I wish to tell them that the New Testament is replete with mystic experiences. What they are actually missing in the New Testament is the key that opens the mystic door that leads to union with God, owing to their inability to enter into the depth of the messages in the New Testament.In Spain, Teresa of Avila offered to the world something profoundly mystical. Her mystical experience is the most successful culmination of the divine marriage between the aspiring soul and the liberating Christ and it is here that man’s helpless crying will and God’s omnipotent all-fulfilling will embrace each other.
AUM 540. This talk was given by Sri Chinmoy on 7 May 1969 at the University of Minnesota.↩
Reputation is your jacket.Character is your life’s soul. Reputation is your desired goal.
Ignorance. Each man has a nature of his own. Each man has ignorance of his own. Complex is his nature. Manifold is his ignorance. But what is more — each man has a divine soul of his own, carrying in it his ultimate Perfection.
True, man is likely to stumble through the thorny forests of ignorance. It is equally true that God will lead him into the sunlit path of knowledge. Someday.
Ignorance says that God is to be found outside oneself. Knowledge says that God is to be found within oneself. Wisdom says: “God is within. He is also without.”
What with unconscious ignorance, what with conscious ignorance man’s desire to see God face to face is to hope against hope. What with conscious self-sacrifice, what with unconscious self-sacrifice man’s dream to see God is not only possible and practicable but inevitable.
Ignorance has a free access everywhere, yet it stays not, rather it cannot stay anywhere for good.
My name was obscurity.
Ignorance was my teacher. What did I learn from my teacher? Only two things: how to be imperfect and how to be self-limited.
Ignorance was my mother. She fed me with her despair. Ignorance was my father. He blessed me with his stupidity.
I have known. I have known that few are those who want to be free from the snare of ignorance. Fewer are those who are willing to pay the price, although they want to be free.
I have realised. I have realised that man’s knowledge is only a higher degree of effective ignorance.
Slowly Ignorance travels in the world of night. Annihilation speedily and ruthlessly overtakes Ignorance. When Ignorance reaches the abysmal breath of self-limitation, man is compelled to turn into his own burial with a living body.
The Soul says that it has no enemy. But Ignorance fails to see eye to eye with the soul. It says, “Oh, soul, I am your eternal enemy. I don’t want you, I don’t want your light.” The Soul says, “I am your Eternal Friend, Oh Ignorance. I want you because God wants me to awaken you from your endless sleep. My Light wants you because God wants you to come out of your self-chosen perpetual limitation and death.”
When we are freed from the fetters of Ignorance, our heart grows into the divine beauty. This divine beauty which is the pride of the soul is the blessedness of life.
The human ignorance wants to control the world. The human love wants to bind the world. The human truth wants to lead the world. The Divine Knowledge wants to inspire the mind of the world. The Divine Love wants to expand the heart of the world. The Divine Truth wants the world to be fulfilled in God and for God.“Better be unborn than untaught, for ignorance is the root of misfortune.”
What Plato says is absolutely true in its own way, but if an individual cries for God-Realisation and the perfect manifestation of his inner divinity on earth, then he has to come into the world, no matter how abysmal his ignorance is. Ignorance is and may be the malady of today’s life, but tomorrow’s life can and must be otherwise. Tomorrow’s life can be flooded with the soul’s glowing light. The life’s journey has to start from where it is. The healthful hunger for the divine light, more light, infinite light is not only today’s necessity, but tomorrow’s inevitability. The Goal Supreme is neither behind us nor with us. It is ahead of us. It is in the heart of the Beyond. The Goal is beckoning us. Let us walk, march and run towards the Goal. We need not hesitate to go to our Goal. The Goal is ready and eager to embrace us with our ignorance. Once we are embraced by the Goal, what remains is to bathe in the Sea of our Goal’s eternally infinite Light.
Our teeming ignorance and the Devil’s binding desire are hand and glove with each other. Our growing knowledge and God’s glowing hope are hand and glove with each other. Our flowing wisdom and God’s illumining choice are hand and glove with each other.
Doubt says to Ignorance: “At long last I have come to know that you are my sister.” Ignorance says: “Sorry, even now you are mistaken. I am not your sister, but your mother. And you are my bravest son.”
Ignorance has a weapon. Its name is human reason. To question human reason is not unreasonable, but to question the Wisdom of the Infinite is foolish audacity. For how can we judge His Wisdom without a corresponding Wisdom?
Humanity has a host of enemies: of these by far the most terrible is lack of knowledge. This ignorance is the last thing in man to become impotent.
After all what is ignorance? Ignorance is the hyphen between imperfection and limitation. Ignorance signifies weakness. I believe the greatest of human weaknesses is to be consciously unconscious of none.
The atom bomb made mincemeat of Hiroshima. Our conscious fondness for the Night of Ignorance can make mincemeat of our divine Ideal on earth.
Even successive failures are not certain or adequate signs of the impossibility of God-realisation, but spontaneous and stubborn fondness for ignorance is a true sign of this impossibility.Ignorance is power. When man uses this power he actually exercises his love of power. But when man is totally freed from the snares of ignorance, he will be able to offer his power of love to mankind. And at that time man will have a new Name: God; a new Home: Immortality.
AUM 544. This talk was given by Sri Chinmoy on 30 September 1969 at the Cornell University in New York.↩
"No, he is not. Never."
"Is he the one who loves You wholeheartedly?"
"No, he is not. Never."
"Is he the one who devotes himself to You unceasingly?"
"No, he is not. Never."
"Is he the one who surrenders himself to You unconditionally?"
"No, he is not. Never."
"Who, then, is Your best instrument, my Lord?"
"My best instrument is he who has discovered Me as the Eternally Perfect slave of desires of yesterday, his aspirations of today and his realisations of tomorrow.
He who thinks of Me constantly enters into My world of adamantine Will.
He who loves Me wholeheartedly enters into My world of transcendental Peace.
He who devotes himself to Me unceasingly enters into My world of unfathomable Ectsasy.
He who surrenders himself to Me unconditionally enters into My world of supreme Fulfilment.But he who thinks of Me as the Eternally Perfect slave of his desires of Yesterday, his aspirations of Today and his realisation of Tomorrow enters into My world of Soul and Goal which is equally his."
The Sanskrit root of the word dharma is dhri, to hold. Who holds us? God. What holds us? Truth. Dharma prevails. If not always, ultimately it must, for in dharma is the very breath of God.
Duryodhana went to Gandhari, his mother, on the eve of the war, for her benediction. Like mother, like son. Here is a veritable exception. She blessed Duryodhana saying, “Victory will be there, where dharma is.” It means that Yudhisthira, the son of Dharma, would win the war. She was the possessor of such a selfless heart. Something more. The present world observes her unique dharma in her unparalleled acceptance of her husband’s fate. God gave Dhritarashtra no sight. And Gandhari proved her absolute oneness with her blind husband by binding her own eyes. She embraced blindness. A sacrifice worthy to be remembered and admired by humanity. She saw not the world without. The choice blessings of the world within showered on Gandhari.
Our body’s dharma is service, our mind’s dharma is illumination, our heart’s dharma is oneness and our soul’s dharma is liberation.
Again, people are apt to claim that dharma means religion. If so, how many religions are there? Just one. Certainly not two, not to speak of three. And what does religion signify? It signifies man-discovery and God-discovery, which are one and identical.
Now let us focus our attention on the word dharmakshetra (the field of dharma). Why is kurukshetra called dharmakshetra? A battlefield can be anything but dharmakshetra. No. The battle took place on the field of kurukshetra where untold religious sacrifices were performed. And something more. Kurukshetra was situated between two sacred rivers: the Jamuna and the Saraswati on the Northwestern part of India. A river is perpetually sacred. A river houses water, vice-versa. Water signifies consciousness in the domain of spirituality. And this consciousness is always pure, unalloyed, sanctifying and energising, so we now come to learn why Kurukshetra was called dharmakshetra and not otherwise.
To consider the first chapter as an introductory chapter and pay very little importance to it as some scholars, interpreters and readers do, need not be an act of wisdom. The first chapter has a special significance of its own. It deals with Arjuna’s sorrow, his inner conflict. Poor Arjuna was torn with grief between two equally formidable ideas: war — he must or he must not. Curiously enough, Arjuna’s mother, Kunti Devi, prayed to the Lord Krishna to bless her with perpetual sorrow. Why? Kunti Devi realised that if sorrow deserted her and left her for good, surely there would be no necessity on her part to invoke Sri Krishna. Her world always wanted sorrow, suffering and tribulation, so that her heart could treasure constantly the Lord’s all-compassionate Presence. To a degree, we can recall in the same vein, from Keats’ Endymion, “...but cheerly, cheerly she (sorrow) loves me dearly; She is so constant to me and so kind.”
Actually, from the highest spiritual point of view, we cannot welcome Kunti Devi’s wisdom. Nevertheless, it served her purpose most effectively. A spiritual person is not to embrace sorrow with the hope of achieving God’s Bounty. He has to aspire. His aspiration has to reveal God’s presence within him, God’s Love, Peace, Bliss and Power. He takes sorrow as an experience in his life. He also knows that it is God who is having this experience in him and through him.
True, sorrow purifies our emotional heart. But the divine Light performs this task infinitely more successfully. Finally one is not to be afraid of sorrow’s arrival in one’s life. Far from it. Sorrow is to be transformed into joy everlasting. How? With our heart’s mounting aspiration and God’s ever-flowing compassion combined. Why? Because God is all joy and what we humans want is to see, feel, realise and finally become God, the Blissful.
The principal warriors were now seen on both sides. Some were eager to fight in order to display their mighty valour, while there were matchless warriors like Bhishma, Drona and Kripa who fought out of moral obligation. On the battlefield itself, just before the actual battle took place, Yudhisthira walked barefoot to the opposing army, precisely to Bhishma and Drona and other well-wishers, for their benedictions. Bhishma, while blessing Yudhisthira from the inmost recesses of his heart, said, “Son, my body will fight, while my heart will be with you and your brothers. Yours is the Victory destined.” Drona, while blessing Yudhisthira, exclaimed, “I am a victim to obligation. I shall fight for the Kauravas, true. But yours will be the victory. This is the assurance from my Brahmin heart.”
Blessings over, Yudhisthira returned. There blared forth countless trumpets, conches, wardrums and bugles. Elephants trumpeted, horses neighed. The wildest tempest broke loose.
Arrows flew like meteors in the air. Forgotten was the sweet, old affection. Broken were the ties of blood. Death was singing the song of death. Here we may charge our memory with Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”:
“Cannon to right of them,
Cannon in front of them
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well
No doubt, the cannon had not been invented in days of yore, in the days of the Mahabharata, but the scene of death was the same with arrows, swords, maces and missiles. Needless to say that we must needs identify ourselves with the arrows, maces and lion-roars of the Kurukshetra heroes and not with today’s grandiose war-achievements. The joy of knowing the achievement of the hoary past is at once irresistible and unfathomable.
Arjuna exclaimed, “Pray, place my chariot, O Krishna, between the two battle formations, so that I can see those who thirst for war.” He surveyed the battle scene. Alas, he saw among the deadly opponents those very human souls whom he always held dear and near. Overwhelmed with tenebrous grief Arjuna, for the first time in his life of matchless heroism, gave unthinkable expression to faint-heartedness. ‘My body shivers, my mouth is parched, my limbs give way, fear tortures me all over, my hair stands on end, my bow slips from my hand and my mind is reeling. Hard is it even for me to stand. Krishna, victory over them, my present foes I seek not. They were my own. Still they are. Neither kingdom nor ease I seek. Let them attack, they want and they shall. But I shall not hurl my weapon upon them, not even for the supreme sovereignty of the three worlds, let alone the earth!’
One after another, with his moral weapons, Arjuna attacked Sri Krishna. He was determined to discard his war weapons for good. He started his philosophy with the correct anticipation of the slaughter of his kinsmen; the dire calamity of family destruction. He emphasised that virtue being lost, family would be caught tight in the grip of vice and so forth. This would be all due to lawlessness. When lawlessness predominates, the women of the family become corrupt; women corrupted, caste-confusion comes into existence.
A word about caste-confusion. India is still being mercilessly ridiculed for having the caste-system in her geographical boundaries. To be sure, caste is unity in diversity. Each caste is like a limb of the body. The four castes: Brahmin (the priest), Kshatriya (the warrior), Vaishya (the agriculturist) and Sudra (the labourer). The origin of the castes we observe in the Vedas. The Brahmin is the mouth of Purusha, the Supreme personified. Rajanya (Kshatriya) Purusha’s two arms, Vaishya, his two thighs, Sudra, his two feet.
In connection with the caste-destruction, Arjuna also tells the Lord Krishna that everything is leading towards the perilous sin. In the Western world unfortunately the word ‘sin’ seems to loom large in every walk of life. It is something more fatal than perdition. To them, I beg to be excused, sin is part and parcel of life. In the East, especially in India, the word sin offers a different meaning. It means imperfection, nothing more and nothing less. The human consciousness is proceeding from imperfection to perfection. The Seers of the Upanishads gave no importance to sin. They taught the world the serenity, sanctity, integrity and divinity of man.
To come back to poor Arjuna. Said he: “Let the sons of Dhritarashtra, armed with weapons, end my life while I am unarmed, with no resistance. I prefer in all sincerity my death to our victory!”
Lo, Arjuna, the hero supreme! Discarding his bow and arrows, dolefully, throbbingly and soulfully he sinks into the hinder part of his chariot.“Fighting is not for Arjuna. Krishna, I shall not fight.”
From:Sri Chinmoy,AUM — Vol. 5, No. 8, 27 Mar. 1970, AUM Centre Press, 1970
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