Previous info on Law of Attraction has showed the importance of what you think and feel in order to create the life you want. Both are important yet at a deeper layer we need to go beyond surface thoughts and feelings to deeper states of peace from which character qualities are formed. Character in fact is what attracts the best into our life. In this you and the universe are co-creators.
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Posted in Blogging, Creativity, Culture, Entertainment, General, Life, Life & Death, Media, News, Opinion, Personal, Reflections, Sensationalism, tagged Death, Jackson 5, King of Pop, Legacy, Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson Fans, michael jackson history, michaeljackson, MJ, mj jackson, Pop Music on June 26, 2009 | 3 Comments »
Reflecting on the Life of Michael Jackson is bittersweet experience. On the one hand, his music is full of life and vitality, yet you have an artist whose life becomes increasingly isolated and tormented.
We can look at his life in decades:
60s Talented and adorable singer of the Jackson 5
70s Raw energy and vitality
80s Creative and innovative peak, earning the title “the King of Pop”
90s Increasing isolation and media sensationalism
00s Legal and financial controversies overshadowed his music
10s Tragic because he dies in 2009 never making it to the next decade or having a comeback as so many artists do in their later years…..though the music lives on.
The controversies may also live on given our obsession with rumours but I hope the music is what is remembered most and we leave aside looking at a life gone suddenly as voyeurs.
One idea that I’ve had given the debt Michael has supposedly accumulated along with the fact that MJ never got to do the planned comeback tour. I suggest that the tour continue as a remembrance of the King of Pop with performances by musicians who have a connection with him and want to honour him. Some or most of the proceeds can pay the debts, set a fund for his children and help pay for the cost of the concerts.
I have no idea how plausible this idea is but if Band Aid can be done, then maybe this is also possible with enough committed people who want to do it.
After a thorough perusal of the text entitled ‘Greater Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint,’ one can only conclude that the central message is summed up in the Buddha’s statement; ‘all skilled states of mind are included among the four Ariyan truths’ (Greater Discourse, 230). In this article I will attempt to explain the meaning of the above statement, from my own perspective. Firstly, I will describe the operations of the Buddhist concept of the four Ariyan truths (noble, Buddhist doctrine). Secondly, I will attempt to relate the simile of the ‘elephant’s footprint’ with the inherent meaning of the text. Finally, I will incorporate some quotes in reference to the ‘atta’ (atman, self as found in the K.R. Norman article on the ‘Alagaddupama-Sutta,’ to further reinforce my interpretation of the four Ariyan truths. The four Ariyan truths are categorized as follows:
‘among the Ariyan truth of anguish, among the Ariyan truth of the uprising of anguish, among the Ariyan truth of the stopping of Anguish, among the Ariyan truth of the course leading to the stopping of anguish.’ (Greater Discourse, 230)
Each of the four Ariyan truths can be understood as having an internal and external element. Thus ‘Truth’ is comprised in its totality of the internal and external elements of the four Ariyan truths. The internal refers to the physical body whereas the external refers to all elements outside of the physical body. The Buddhist text recommends the investigation of the intrinsic and extrinsic elements of the four Ariyan truths (that are a reflection of the first of the five skandras), so that one will come to realize the Truth. The goal of realization of ‘Truth’ leads one to the stopping of all anguish. To further understand the Buddhist operations of stopping anguish, I will explain in greater detail the four Ariyan truths.
Firstly, the Ariyan truth of anguish is birth, ageing, dying, grief, lamentation, sorrow, tribulation, despair and not getting what one wants. Moreover the five groups of grasping are also anguish. The five groups of grasping are grasping after material shape, feeling, perception, habitual tendencies and consciousness. (Greater Discourse, 231)
Furthermore, the group of grasping after material shapes is composed of the four great elements- earth ( fire, water, and air (Greater Discourse, 231). I interpret the text as saying that the same four elements have an internal existence, within our physical bodies and an external existence, outside of our physical bodies and yet are simultaneously the physical realm around us.
Secondly, is the Ariyan truth of the uprising of anguish. I understand the uprising of anguish to be when one experiences ‘sensory impingement’ (Greater Discourse, 232). According to the Buddhist text, when others subject one to annoyance or abuse, the painful feeling that surfaces is born of this ‘sensory impingement.’ The ‘sensory impingement’ surfaces due to a cause, the cause being ‘sensory impingement’ itself (Greater Discourse, 232).
Thirdly, is the Ariyan truth of ‘stopping of anguish’ (Greater Discourse, 231). The stopping of anguish is accomplished by:
‘control of desire and attachment, the ejection of desire and attachment, that is the stopping of anguish.’ (Greater Discourse, 237-238)
The basic message of ‘control,’ in relation to desire and attachment appears to be the point at which one can effectively stop one’s experience of anguish.
Fourthly, the Ariyan truth of the course leading to the stopping of anguish is ‘by means of perfect intuitive wisdom’ (Greater Discourse, 231).
Thus the course of ‘perfect intuitive wisdom results in an understanding that the internal and external elements (of the four great elements) do not really belong to the self. Since all of the internal and external elements do not belong to the self, one cultivates an attitude of disregard, indifference or non-attachment–in all conditions (Greater Discourse, 233). One also begins to perceive that everything is impermanent and thus ‘the mind rejoices, pleased composed’ (Greater Discourse, 232).
As one begins to perceive Truth as an ‘Awakened One” (Greater Discourse, 232) then ‘dhamma’ (dharma, right action) becomes apparent. Dhamma, or right action becomes the process of experiencing any of the four elements (internal or external) with an equanimity that depends on established skill (Greater Discourse, 233). The positive result becomes an insightfullness that lends itself to non-attachment and furthermore:
‘One thus, is recollecting dhamma thus, is recollecting the Order thus, the equanimity that depends on skill is established (in him), he, because of this is pleased’ (Greater Discourse, 234).
From such an experience one transcends the earth element and experiences, (even in the event of sensory impingement or death) that ‘whoever sets his heart at enmity, he, for this reason, is not a doer of my teaching’ (Greater Discourse, 232). In other words one does not become agitated or hostile under any circumstances. It is not enough to merely remember the Awakened One or dhamma, since one comes to a strongly moved condition and one will experience anguish. Conversely, the Buddhist goal is to firmly establish the skill to remain unmoved and maintain one’s equanimity, in all conditions. The Buddhist text explains that this ‘skill’ can be included among each of the four Ariyan truths–anguish, uprising of anguish, stopping of anguish, and the course leading to the stopping of anguish (Greater Discourse, 230).
The simile of the elephant’s footprint relates to the inherent meaning of the text. The simile explains that as the elephant’s foot combines all ‘pedal qualities,’ (Greater Discourse 230) so all ‘skilled states of mind’ (Greater Discourse, 230) are included in the four Ariyan truths. I interpret the simile to mean that just as an elephant’s foot is symbolic of all qualities, one will have a total understanding of all Truth, if one investigates fully the four Ariyan truths. The elephant’s foot is referred to as ‘chief among those in print of size,’ (Greater Discourse, 230) or in other words, the largest. Similarly, one understands Truth only if one’s vision is expanded large enough to be all inclusive– a vision of Truth that includes all qualities will enable one to see reality as it truly is, thereby releasing one from anguish, in order to establish the ‘skill’ of equinimity.
In conclusion, the note by K.R. Norman on ‘atta’ (atman, self) in the ‘Alagaddupama-sutta,’ reflects a similar understanding as found in the ‘Greater Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint.’ In the note by Norman, everything is considered transitory, even the atta. It is a wrong view to think ‘That is mine, I am that, that is my atta.’ (Norman, 200). In the note by Norman, everything is considered transitory, even the atta. (Norman, 200). Consequently, one does not become anxious about ‘something which does not exist’ (Norman, 201). Everything, even the self is transitory, and does not ever really belong to oneself. All constructs are considered impermanent, painful and not self (Norman, 208). The Buddhist implicaiton is that there is no permanent individual self in existence (Norman, 209). The Buddhist statement in Norman’s article reinforces the idea found in the text of the Elephant’s Footprint. Finally, both texts conclude that through insight one can understand the Truth of impermanence and consequently the unreality of the atta and the external elements. By realizing the Truth one can understand that in reality there is no self and no external element that belongs to self. If nothing belongs to the self, then there is no reason for anguish, or grief over loss. Delighted by the awareness of Truth, one has reason to ‘rejoice’ (Greater Discourse, 230).
by Deborah Morrison
1. ‘Greater Discourse on the Simile of the Elephant’s Footprint.’
2. Norman, K.R. ‘A Note on the Atta in the Alagaddupama-sutta’ 1991, Pali Text Society
Writing is often romanticized as an expression of your creativity and an expression of your inspiration. Certainly this is the place within which the craft is nourished and expanded. Yet sometimes the choice to write is not entirely ours. Something greater than us (sometimes your Publisher) calls us to pick up the pen….or in the modern PC world to tickle the keyboard.
What calls people to writing is as varied as the individuals who express themselves through the written word. It can be to educate, inform, transform or depict the human condition in some way. As well as countless other reasons too numerous to name.
When we began to write Nexus (Novel) it was partly through conscious intent. We felt inspired to write a book with psychological and spiritual depth…and which also would communicate an important message of basic oneness of all people and all life.
Yet even with clear intentions the writing had a force of its own. We were in control of the organization, the superstructure but the writing itself was an organic process–something that came into being with each word, sentence, paragraph, chapter and finally a completed novel.
What started out as a project with one another grew into a story populated with people, problems and a journey where the soul of each person was transformed from the start to the end.
We think writing is conscious at one level but it is also something that you cannot really control. You allow it, dream it and envision it. The vision is yours, yet it is also beyond the strict you of ego, the you bounded by time-space. For writing comes through you, yet we often felt it was tapping into something outside us, a source of inspiration found in life itself.
Deborah and Arvind
Authors of Nexus (Novel)
According to Dr. Gerbert Benson the Faith Factor is of central importance in going beyond the Relaxation Response. The Faith Factor is what we believe/perceive to be real.‘ It is how we interpret reality, or how our body sees the concrete world around us that is important. Therefore our personal powers and potential for well-being are shaped by the negative or positive way we think. The Faith Factor can effectively relieve headaches, reduce angina pectoris pains and perhaps even eliminate the need for bypass surgery (estimated 80 percent of angina pain can be relieved by positive belief) reduce blood pressure and help control hypertension problems, enhance creativity, especially when experiencing some sort of mental block, overcome insomnia, prevent hyperventilation attacks, help alleviate backaches, enhance the therapy of cancer, control panic attacks, lower cholesterol levels, alleviate symptoms of anxiety that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, short temper and inability to get along with others. The Faith Factor can effectively reduce overall stress and achieve great inner peace. The list could go on…
The Process to go Beyond the Relaxation Response is…
Firstly, one begins to elicit the Relaxation Response and secondly, one practices the Relaxation Response in conjunction with one’s personal belief system in the form of a positive affirmation.
The Relaxation Response refers to the inborn capacity of the body to enter a special state characterixed by lowered heart rate, decreased rate of breathing, lowered blood pressure and an overall reduction of the metabolism. In addition the effects produced by the Relaxation Response counteract the harmful effects and uncomfortable feelings of stress.
In this relatively peaceful condition the individual breaks free of worry cycles. Worry cycles are unproductive grooves or circuits that cause the mind to play over and over again almost involuntarily, the same anxieties, or uncreative, health-impairing thoughts.
Certain deep relaxation techniques can be used to elicit the Relaxation Response:
1. Find a quiet environment.
2. Consciously relax the body’s muscles.
3. Focusing for 10-20 minutes on a mental device, such as one positive word, a brief prayer, a positive affirmation, the breath, a candle.
4. Assume a passive attitude toward intrusive thoufhts.
Beyond the Relaxation Response
The effects of this technique combined with a person’s deepest personal beliefs, can create other internal environments that can help the individual reach enhanced states of health and well-being.
Relaxation Response + Belief System = The Faith Factor
(not a new concept but rather an original package) that combines two powerful but familiar spiritual vehicles…
1. Meditation/Deep Relaxation
2. A deeply held set of philosophical/spiritual convictions.
These techniques can be practiced anywhere, in any environment.
The Anxiety Cycle
Your anxiety cycle may be related to a difficult situation at work, a relationship at home, an illness in the family, concerns about your own health or limitations, or indeed about death itself. The process feeds on itself, intensifies and often leads to various health problems.
Everyone has experienced this kind of anxiety cycle at one time or another and certain people manage the problem better than others. However, everyone can use alittle help, such as a technique that will act as an antidote. Sometimes just to get up and walk around a little, ro take a coffee break, or even a vacation may be necessary. However, sometimes these informal thecniques anre not enough. Then the Relaxation Response is useful. The Relaxation Response is a simple form of prayer/meditation/deep relaxation that allows the mind to settle down and thereby provides an escape hatch. Going Beyond the relaxation Response helps one get in touch with one’s inner centre of peace and creates an oasis of calm. In this way you can develop a consistently effective tool that will encounter tension and its accompanying ills by breaking the cycle of anxiety.
In practical tems here are the steps to introduce the Faith factor into your life and thereby go beyond the Relaxation Response….
1. Pick a positive phrase or word that reflects your basic belief system (ie. I am peaceful, I am relaxed).
2. Choose a comfortable position.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Relax your muscles.
5. Become aware of your breathing, and start using your faith-rooted focus word.
6. Maintain a passive attitude.
7. Continue for a set period of time
8. Practice the tecnique twice daily
The Faith Factor which combines the Relaxation Response with your personal belief system, will not be a cure for every ill you face in your life. But properly employed, it can accomplish remarkably effective results through direct chemical actions in your body.
The usual sequence of events that can be expected in my experience is…
1. There is less concern about stress symptoms or illness; in other words the anxiety cycle is broken.
2. The stress symptoms become less severe.
3. The stress symptoms are present less fo the time and short periods of complete relief are noted.
4. The periods of relief become longer.
5. The stress symptoms are completely gone or remain in a fashion that no longer interferes with everyday activities. In fact, I have found that many people have difficulty remembering their original symptoms.
The time duration for a person to experience these full benefits is quite vairable. For some it can be as short as 1 or 2 weeks. For others, up to a year is required. Most people can expect improvements to occur in approximately 4-6 weeks with practicing twice a day for 20 minutes.
This relaxation technique can also be used anywhere at any time in your lives by returning your concentration back to the breath, relaxing, and then by repeating silently your positive affirmation statement.
“I am God. I do not recognize the hell. I do not recognize the three worlds of heaven, hell and earth. I am the Lord, the Controller. I am still the witness after everything else is dissolved. Nobody else is God for me; nobody else controls me. I am I-less, I am my-less. ” Sankara
In this article I hope to demonstrate some parallels between modern Physics, Eastern Mysticism, and Barbour’s ideas based on Process Philosophy. I will examine the three perspectives within the context of the dynamic interplay of energies, the emergent and convergent universe, and finally the transcendence of God.
According to Classical Physics, Newton’s mechanical model views the world as deterministic. All that transpires in the universe has a definite cause, giving rise to a categorical effect. The philosophical basis of Classical Physics is a fundamental division between the “I” and the “world,” the dichotomy of the subject and object. The world is in motion with respect to fixed laws, according to which material points move. This mechanistic model is adequate for the description of physical phenomena at a submicroscopic level, where essentially, protons, neutrons, and electrons are the material particles that interact with finite space and linear time to effect movement in the world (Capra: 1972, 56-62). At the atomic level, the actions of atoms can be determined; however as quantum physics shows even at this level the reaction cannot be predetermined, for even the observer can have an impact on the outcome or results.
The first three decades of our century have seen a radical transformation of the entire interpretation of physics based on Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum physics. Modern physics has shattered all the principle concepts of the Classical world view based on universal order and fixed laws. The theory of relativity and quantum theory have transformed our view of absolute space and time, elementary solid particles, the causal nature of physical phenomena, and the objective description of nature (62-63).
In 1905, Albert Einstein initiated the two revolutionary trends of thought in the theory of relativity and the beginning of the quantum theory. (The complete quantum theory was worked out twenty years later by a team of physicists. In quantum theory one deals with the probability of finding a particle at a given position. The theory attempts to combine the principles of quantum mechanics with those of relativity in an effort to describe processes such as high-energy collisions in which particles may be created or destroyed). Even though Einstein refuted classical understanding of the universe, he still advocated nature’s intrinsic harmony and integrated foundation. The physicist replaced the erroneous constants of the past, showing that they were only relative, but nevertheless made the speed of light a constant in his physics. He tried to located God’s order in a universal, while through his theory of relativity, constancy of time and space were disproved. Einstein, therefore, commented that God does not place dice, so that the natural world is comprised of total harmony and order, and nothing is left to chance.
According to the relativity theory, time is not a separate entity; moreover, space is not three-dimensional. Both are interconnected and a four-dimensional continuum emerges as time-space, as space and time lose their absolute significance. In contrast to the classical theory of absolute space and, absolute time, the modern theory of physics emerges, where both space and time become elements of language used by a particular observer. The most important consequence of Modern Physics is the realization that mass and even matter are nothing but forms of energy. Matter can through processes change into energy and vice versa, challenging the materialist conception of the universe based on static, tangible perception of matter, and even matter itself must be rediefined as it has changed into something dynamic and fluid. Furthermore, space can never be separated from time as the latter is affected by the presence of matter. l Both space and time however are flowing at different rates in different parts of the universe. For example, the mass or weight of a human being is not inseparable ffrom space, so that a 160 lbs. man on earth may weigh only 60 lbs on the moon, and 300 lbs. on Jupiter. Clearly, the space that the human body occupies influences its mass. The Classical concept of absolute space and time is also nullified, since the force of gravity, according to Einstein’s theory of relativity, has the effect of curving space and time. Clearly, the relativity theory has revolutionized our interpretation of physical phenomena. The classical distinction between matter and energy is discarded in favour of the contemporary idea that matter can transform into energy and vice versa; therefore there can only be conversion among the different forms of matter and energy, even if neither is actually unchanging (62-70).
From the perspective of the quantum theory, the classical deterministic laws of nature have been dismantled. In contrast to the Classical view of solid material objects, quantum theory interprets phenomena as wave-like patterns of probabilities. The probabilities are not of “things” but rather probabilities of interconnections. Subatomic particles have no existence as concrete, isolated entities. Phenomenal reality can only be understood in terms of the probability of interconnections. Quantum theory, thus, reveals an essential unity of the universe. The world cannot be deconstructed into independently isolated “building blocks.” Rather, a dynamic interplay exists between the various parts of the whole. These relations also include the “observer.” The human observer becomes the final link in the chain of observational processes, since an essential interconnection exists in all phenomena. The attraction between positive and negative forces emerges as a vigorous interplay of energy waves that order the phenomenal world. The property of matter and light becomes concomitantly “particle” and energy “waves,” spread over a large region of space. The energy of heat radiation continuously appears as energy packets. Einstein calls them “quanta” and recognizes them as an essential aspect of nature (68-81).
According to the relativistic quantum field theory, particle and field are complementary manifestations of one and the same thing. The relativistic field theory asserts that:
“the ultimate material reality that physics can apprehend is the ‘field’ and in the aspect of the quantum field, it is both a continuum and a discontinuum, the discontinuities being temporary condensations of space-time where the field is unusually intense giving rise to matter (Pantda: 1991, 154).
According to the field theory, reality is nothing but the transformation and organization of the field quanta. Particles are interactions between fields, and are ephemeral manifestations. They only appear to be substantial as a result of the dynamic, energetic interplay of the quantum fields (155).
All types of particle-pairs are constantly generated and absorbed by the field. The “dance” of all possible particles, may be regarded as the fundamental activity of Nature so that:
“what was considered to be ‘sunya’ (void), vacuum or nothingness before the discovery of relativistic quantum field is now accepted as ‘purna’ (full) or plenum by the quantum physicists (157).
In microphysics, the vacuum-ocean is a positive entity, having ripples and larger waves full of fluctuations. The vacuum-ocean is absolute because it is inactive, calm, and free from fluctuations. Unmanifest energy manifests itself and then again becomes unmanifest as an eternal dynamic process of the universal materialization and confluence that takes place (156-158).
EASTERN MYSTICISM- SHIVA’S COSMIC DANCE
In East Indian mythology and philosophy, the concept of the cosmic dance is very ancient, representing the Eastern mystic’s dynamic view of the universe. They have used the image of a “dance” to convey their intuition of reality, personified in the form of the cosmic dance of Shiva (or Nataraja). The word Shiva means “one whose actions are good,” and the name Shiva is considered to be derived from Shankara meaning auspicious and benevolent. Shiva is worshipped in the form of a phallus, which symbolized the Divine Father. The phallus symbol penetrates into ‘Shakti’ (energy) represented in the form of the ‘yoni’ ( the womb or vagina), a symbol of the generative organ of the Divine Mother. Proto-Shiva was a fertility God of the Indus Valley Civilization, and his dancing today symbolizes creation. Interestingly, the same Shiva assumes destructive or sanguinary aspects, for destruction and cannot be separated from creation. Shiva needs to destroy in order to create anew. Rudra represents destructive aspects in their totality as he dances for the annihilation of everything. Shiva and Rudra are two images that seem to be antagonistic to one another initially, but the Hindu tradition has a forceful strength to assimilate bifurcating ideas. Shiva collects Rudra’s attributes into himself once the latter declines in popularity after the Vedic period. The Eastern Mystics commingle the two contradictory concepts, and form an integral concept from the collapse of Rudra’s destructive powers into the new, more powerful Shiva. The contradictory nature of Shiva appears paradoxical, however in reality it is a bipolar synthesis, in which the opposite poles cannot exist without the other (156-158).
Eastern mysticism recognizes only one Reality as the Transcendent, and yet It is conceived in many forms. ‘Advaita’ (Non-Dual) Vedanta recognizes Brahman as the Ground of Reality, or as the Ultimate Reality whereas the phenomenal world is ultimately unreal (maya or mithya). The theistic or devotional schools of medieval India accepted God not only as Formless but often worshipped the Lord in many forms. Therefore, God in Advaitic understanding was Formless and One, a conception that became remote in the myriad forms that many Hindus worshipped in ardent devotion in daily life. The Hindu tradition tried to synthesize these myriad forms into the Trimurti (the Hindu trinity). As a coin has two faces, likewise the Divine has three presiding phases, attributes, or deities: Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (maintainer), and Mahesvara (change, destroyer i.e. Shiva). The Nataraja concept of Shiva contains simultaneously his creative, sustaining, and destructive activities. His Nataraja form is consistent with religious, philosophical, and scientific investigation. Creation and dissolution are taking place each moment and are symbolized by the Rudra-Shiva dance. The universal dancer is considered to be Nataraja whose dancing creates the outflow and inflow of the universes, and encompasses all with His eternally still presence as a multidimensional aspect of the cosmic dance (159). In this supreme cosmic dance:
“particles and antiparticles appear from akasa (space; these micro-particles may generate newer particles; the particles dance vigorously, suddenly they appear, transiently they live…then they disappear. When they disappear they apparently vanish; but they don’t become nothing…(160).
In the beginning, the particles were unmanifest (avyakta), in the middle they become manifest (vyatka), and in the end they become again unmanifest (avyakta). There is no gain or loss in the whole process, for the cosmic dance is eternal. Creation and annihilation are merely part of the cosmic dance. Their difference lies in degrees of subtleties as they alternate from coarse to subtle existence. The cosmic process of creation, destruction, manifestation and non-manifestation, worldly evolution and change are fundamentals of Shiva’s eternal dance (158).
The symbolic imagery of the dancing Shiva is as follows:
“Shiva’s aureaole of fire (the prabhamandala) represents the rhythm of the universe and emanates from the lotus pedestal, the Hindu symbol of Enlightenment. Shiva dances on the prostrate form of Apasmargaurusa, a symbol of human ignorance. The back right hand carries the damaru, a drum symbolizing creation. The back left hand holds agni, the fire of destruction. The front left hand carries a disc and is in the yajahasta (elephant trunk) position. The front left hand is in the abhya-mudra pose (pose expressing fearlessness) (154).
Shiva’s dance is further considered to be tandava (energetic). The foot held aloft signifies release. His arms are balanced and yet reflect dynamic gestures that express the rhythm and unity of Life. The balance of the two hands represent the dynamic balance of creation and destruction. In the centre of the two hands is Shiva’s face, calm and detached, which signifies the transcendence over the polarity inherent in creation and destruction. Shiva is pictured dancing on the body of a demon who symbolizes human ignorance, which must be conquered before liberation is achieved (256-255).
Shiva’s dance represents the dynamic flow and ‘dance’ of the universe. The dancing universe is a ceseless flow of energy going through an infinite variety of patterns, which merge into one another in a dynamic universal interplay. His dance symbolizes the daily rhythm of birth and death, and the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction. Shiva is a reminder that the many forms in the world are maya (not constant, but ever-changing), while He is eternally Real as He continually keeps creating and dissolving the forms in the external flow of His dance.
The Eastern mystics have a dynamic view of the universe similar to that of modern physics. The parallels of Eastern mysticism and modern physics become particularly striking when sound is considered as a wave with a certain frequency, which changes with the sound. Particles are also waves with frequencies proportional to their energies. According to modern physics, each particle perpetually sings its song, and produces a rhythmic ‘dance of energy in dense and subtle forms.’ Modern physicists use phrases like the ‘dance of creation and destruction’ and ‘energy dance.’ The conception of rhythm and dance emerge naturally when one tries to imagine the discharge of energies going through the patterns that make up the particle world. Modern Physics and eastern Mysticism, therefore, demonstrate that rhythm and motion are essential aspects of the phenomenal universe. Another parallel is the understanding that all matter, whether here on Earth or in outer space, is participating in a continual cosmic dance (Capra: 1975, 256-259). Moreover, both of them agree on the idea of the emergent and convergent universe. According to Eastern Mysticism, the world of maya (illusion) changes perpetually, since the cosmic dance of Shiva is a rhythmic, dynamic dance. In the active principle of the cosmic dance, the entire universe is in action, manifest and emerging, while in its non-active principle the entire universe has converged into an unmanifest essence. Similarly, modern physics has discovered the expanding universe as supported by the kinetic of the Big Bang theory. And, presently the universe has been shown as expanding, but at a slower rate than previously due to the changes in the gravitational force. Moreover, the reverse phenomenon of the collapsing universe will take place at some time in the future, when the gravitational pull will be greater than the receding force, and then the universe will converge (Panda: 1991, 131).
In conclusion, I have examined some fundamental ideas inherent in Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Interestingly, the emerging views in each of the two systems of thought parallel each other.
by Deborah Morrison
Capra, Fritof. The Tao of Physics. London: Wildwood House, 1975
Panda, N.C. maya in Physics. Delhi: Motilal Banarisdass Publishers, 1991
In this article I will analyze, from my own perspective, the merits and demerits of the book ‘Gandhian Mysticism’ by Mohit Chakrabarti. I will consider the quality of the book in terms of its contribution to the understanding of mysticism, by means of its structure and content. Finally, I will conclude whether I feel the author has accomplished his task; –that being a scholarly study of Gandhian mysticism.
Chakrabarti defines mysticism as a “beyonding of consciousness” (Chakrabarti, 1). Further, Chakrabarti refers to Gandhian mysticism as “growth eternal from Truth to Truth” (Chakrabarti, 1). Chakrabarti’s main focus of his book ‘Gandhian Mysticism’ is to study Gandhi’s understanding of mysticism from various avenues of Gandhian thought. Gandhian Mysticism is further explained in relation to non-violence, in terms of the concept of joy, as well as in view of its practical application in face of social tension.
Firstly, the author attempts to explain Gandhi’s ideas on the various dimensions of mysticism. Gandhi thinks that “service is the symbol of self-sacrifice and self-purification leading to enlightenment in the mystic vision” (Chakrabarti, 2). Gandhi believes in living a life based on simplicity, non-violence, and Truth, as revealed by his mystical vision. Gandhi suggests that all persons have the potential and ability to live likewise. Gandhian mysticism may be termed “spirituality in action” (Chakrabarti, 2). Gandhi’s mysticism as spirituality in action is further described as:
“Spirituality in its essence is the direct experience in one’s own consciousness and one’s whole being, of Oneness of all Existence without the least doubt or wavering. Awareness of such oneness in one’s own consciousness without any feeling of separateness with any thing in the universe…such awareness is said to have two stages, not necessarily one after the other: the perception of Oneness…which is attended by a momentary sense of fulfillment and ecstatic joy.” (Chakrabarti, 3)
Gandhi’s personal aspiration and ambition, in terms of mysticism is described as wanting to “see God face to face” (Chakrabarti, 3). In order to achieve this mystical experience, Gandhi takes on the spiritual discipline of maintaining vows, for the purpose of self purification. By the process of self purification the ego is transcended. Thus Gandhi is able to experience the mystical state of being called Superconsciousness. Gandhi considers mysticism as “the essence of the human soul” (Chakrabarti, 6). Also Gandhi prescribes the practise of self purification as a means of hearing the voice of God within:
“Having made a ceaseless effort to attain self-purification, I have developed some little capacity to hear correctly and clearly the still small voice within” (Chakrabarti, 8)
To be a continual visualizer in the mystic vision, Gandhi gives prominence to the “still small voice within” (Chakrabarti, 8). The Gandhian concept of mysticism suggests a “return to the roots of consciousness, as mysticism makes inroads to higher feeling” (Chakrabarti, 9). Love, not hatred, is the single factor that has, as Gandhi points out “an abiding force to see inwardly and see in fullness” (Chakrabarti, 10). The mystic merges in Love, and Love merges in the mystic.
Gandhian mysticism in general then progresses to a study of Gandhian mysticism in relation to specifics such as non-violence, the concept of joy and practical applications in face of social tension.
In relation to non-violence, Gandhian mysticism has a practical application of approaching life in terms of “action based on the refusal to harm deliberately” (Chakrabarti, 36). Gandhi understands non-violence to be the “law of our being” (Charkrabarti, 36). Gandhi’s mystic vision is that materialism be transformed in the vision of spiritual harmony. According to Gandhian mysticism, the spirit is more important than matter. Through the practise of non-violence the spirit can transform matter, by means of the Truth-force or Soul-force generated. Thus the mysticism of Gandhi aims at a philosophy based on non-violent action.
As a seeker of non-violence, Gandhi always makes an inward journey into his own consciousness. This inner journey, according to Gandhian mysticism, enables one to become more self-aware and to discern right from wrong. What is remarkable in Gandhian mysticism, is the pursuit of the benevolence of humankind as the means toward achievement of mystic fulfillment. One begins the journey inwardly, by the process of inward vision. However, through the observance of outward activities based on non-violence, one continues the journey. Gandhi always affirms goodness and welfare to all living beings. He equates non-violence as the means to achieve his mystical vision of Truth, Peace, and Love.
In relation to the concept of joy, Gandhian mysticism highlights the conscious awareness “to feel within oneself the spirit of joy arising out of the sense of goodness and love derived by means of non-violence as the symbol of mystic contentment” (Chakrabarti, 99). Gandhi mystically visualizes the joy in humanity that must manifest itself in brilliant radiance. Gandhi’s testimony to the world reveals his mystic concept of joy:
“There is a spirit which, I feel, delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things…as it bears no evil in itself, so it conceives none in thought to any other. If it be betrayed it bears it: for its ground and spring is the mercies and forgiveness of God” (Chakrabarti, 100). Gandhi believes that as soon as one achieves control over oneself, the joy in oneself comes out (Chakrabarti, 101). Gandhi, the mystic visionary, embraces the world as the eternal fountain of joy. Gandhi insists that we ‘illumine or perish’ (Chakrabarti, 103). Gandhi says that the ‘gateway to the world of joy is always open for those who come to have an unhindered entry through the vision of joy’ (Chakrabarti, 103).
Finally the book on ‘Gandhian Mysticism’‘ relates Gandhi’s mysticism to practical applications in face of social tension. Gandhi thinks that the modern social pattern of utilitarianism necessitates a mystic breakthrough. Gandhi feels that much of the modern world is devoid of mutual co-operation, cohesion and of feeling for one and all (Chakrabarti, 105). Gandhi envisions mankind as becoming “conscious of the inner worth of humanity and so alleviate the sorrows and sufferings consequential to poverty (Chakrabarti, 106). Gandhi believes that social change can be achieved through a “silent inward revolution” (Chakrabarti, 107). This inward revolution teaches humanity how to live honestly and with devotion to Truth and goodness. As a mystic visionary, Gandhi delves deep into social miseries, suffering and poverty. Gandhi believes and actualises in his activities the fact that Love is the cure for all wrongs and sufferings of distressed humanity (Chakrabarti, 111).
The above dimensions of Gandhian mysicism, from the standpoint of his unique strategy of non-violence, brings forth a new awareness of the future potential of humanity. The potential of social progress, Love and Truth manifest in the world. Gandhian mysticism encompasses the two aspects of firstly an inwardness of vision and secondly an outward action in response to one’s vision. Gandhian mysticism thus becomes second to none as a technique of applying the inner essence of humanity toward the good of one and all.
I feel that the merits or strengths of the book ‘Gandhian Mysticism’ are found primarily in the depth of insight within the content of the text. The author has a refined understanding of Gandhi’s mystical understanding and visions. Furthermore, the author supports his views well with direct quotes from Gandhi, in order to strenghen the content of the text.
The structure of the text is good; beginning with an overview of Gandhian mysticism, then focusing on specifics in terms of modern day social tensions. I feel that the author has accomplished his aim of enhancing the reader’s understanding of Ganhian mysticism.
However, I think the text has the demerit of being somewhat too short in length. An in depth analysis of Gandhian mysticism in relation to Satyagraha (passive resistance) would have enhanced the quality of the text. Nevertheless, in view of the strengths found in the text, I would recommend ‘Gandhian Mysticism’ as excellent reading.
Chakrabarti, Mohit ‘Ganhian Mysticism’ 1989.
Atlantic Publishers and Distributors,
New Delhi, India.
After a thorough perusal of the Book of Job, one can only conclude that Job learns a great deal from his experience. Of significance is Job’s theophany, his mystical religious experience of communicating with God. Job’s religious experience results in his new awareness of God’s omniscience and omnipotence. Job learns to be theocentric, rather than anthropocentric. In contrast, Job never does learn about the generic cause of his suffering. The cause being the wager between Satan and God.
Job had always been a pious man and had lived a life of material comfort. Throughout chapters one to thirty-seven in the Book of Job, Job experiences misfortune. As a reaction to the extreme suffering that Job must contend with, he falls into a deep and continual state of despair. A despair that threatens his faith in God.
Job repeatedly proclaims his innocence. He feels as if he were being punished by God, with no just cause. Where there is faith there is hope. However, Job’s faith in God becomes progressively weak. Job begins to lose all hope. The weakening of Job’s faith becomes apparent when he says:
“I tell you that God has wronged me and enveloped me in his net” (Job 19, 6)
As Job’s faith in God becomes weaker, it is evident that Job begins to lose hope of ever seeing happiness again. Job replies to Eliphaz:
“My days are over, so are my plans, my heart-strings are broken… Where then is my hope? Who can see any happiness for me?” (17, 11-15)
Friends and relatives give advice to Job. However, everyone believes that Job must have sinned and is being punished. Job proclaims his innocence and finds no comfort from others. God seems far away and evil appears to be triumphant. Evidently, until chapter thirty-seven of the Book of Job, Job maintains an anthropocentric perspective. If human beings were the centre of everything, then Job’s understanding of his suffering might bring some light to his situation. However, Job has more to learn.
The three sages, the friends of Job, have failed to justify God. Thus, Job is in a state of ever deepening despair, until God speaks to him. The discourses of Yahweh are a major turning point for Job. Job’s theophany, (mystical religious experience), is his direct discourses with God, where he learns the most. Job’s profound learning restores his faith in the Divine.
The first discourse with Yahweh teaches Job about the Creator’s wisdom. Job learns that God is omiscient, all knowing. Yahweh asks Job many questions:
“Have you grasped the celestial laws?” (38, 33)
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me since you are so well informed!” (38, 4)
“Who decided its dimensions, do you know?” (38, 5)
Job begins to realize that the human intellect is limited in understanding. Job replies to Yahweh:
“My words have been frivolous! What can I reply? I had better lay down my hand over my mouth, I have spoken once, I shall not speak again: I have spoken twice, I have nothing more to say.” (40, 4-5)
Thus, Job acknowledges God’s omniscience. Job realizes that perhaps he doesn’t understand his own suffering completely. However, God being all knowing, would have the absolute wisdom necessary to understand Job’s suffering.
Secondly, through the discourses of Yahweh, Job learns that God is omnipotent. God asks Job:
“Do you really want to reverse my judgement, Put me in the wrong and yourself in the right? Has your arm the strength of God’s, Can your voice thunder as loud?” (40, 8-9)
Yahweh reminds Job that he is not strong enough to save himself, let alone anyone else. Yahweh challenges Job by stating:
“Let the fury of your anger burst forth, humble the haughty at a glance. At a glance bring down all the proud, strike down the wicked where they stand.” (40, 11-12)
Job finds comfort, as a result of his mystical religious experience, communicating directly with God. Job comes to know God more completely. Job has overcome his weakening faith. Now, he has a stronger faith and a deeper understanding of God.
Job also learns of God’s omnipotence. Yahweh reminds Job of the strength of Divine power. Through faith in God, Job’s hope is restored. The suffering that Job experiences must be temporary. Eventually, Job will experience happiness once again. The progress of Job’s learning is portrayed in his final answer to Yahweh:
“Before, I knew only by hearsay, but now, having seen you with my own eyes, I retract what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.” (42, 5-6)
Job’s learning is progressive; from an anthropocentric (human centered) to a theocentric (God centered) perspective. By understanding that God is in the centre, Job begins to see himself as a small unit within a larger, yet Divine plan. Job realizes that everything cannot happen for his benefit alone. By means of God’s omniscience and omnipotence, eventually Divine justice will reign supreme. Job reaffirms what he has learned through his experience by answering Yahweh:
“I know that You are all-powerful; what You conceive: You can perform. I was the man who misrepresented your intentions with my ignorant words.” (42, 2-3)
In contrast to all the profound learning that Job gains through his experience, Job has learned nothing about the generic cause of his suffering. Initially, there was a wager established between Satan and God. Misfortune and suffering, were originally thrust upon Job due to Satan challenging God. Satan, was sure that Job would lose faith in God, if tested by severe suffering. Both Satan and Yahweh knew all along about the wager that led to Job’s suffering. Even after Yahweh’s discourses, Job never learns about the wager between Satan and God. The real purpose behind Job’s suffering is never revealed to him.
One can only conclude that Job’s theophany, his mystical religious experience of speaking directly with God, results in a progressive learning experience. Before his religious experience, Job understands his suffering from an anthropocentric perspective. After learning from his mystical religious experience, Job becomes theocentric, or God centered. In contrast, Job never learns anything about the real cause of his suffering– the wager between Satan and God. In the heart of the tempest, while in the depths of despair, Job’s faith and hope are restored. Job learns more about the Divine nature of Yahweh–the attributes of omniscience and omnipotence. Profound learning results from Job’s experiences, both the suffering and the theophany. Job’s happiness is re-established, and his love for God deepens.
All references to the book of Job in this article refer to:
The New Jerusalem Bible. 1990. Bantam Publishing Ltd., London
A unique contribution of Geertz, in terms of religious perspective, is his focus on how religions function in people’s lives. In this article I will focus precisely on how Geertz understands religious symbols to be a link of belief & ethos, that mutually confirms one another and makes ethos justifiable. I will also relate the use of religious symbols to Scripturalism, as a counter-tradition against maraboutism and illuminationism. Geertz shows how religion helps the society and culture function as a whole. Furthermore, from Geertz’s perspective, religion can be seen as a process, in face of changing patterns of belief and ethos.
Geertz describes the heart of religious perspective as:
“the conviction that values one holds are grounded in the inherent structure of reality, that between the way one ought to live and the way things really are there is an unbreakable inner connection.” (Geertz, 1968, 97)
The unbreakable inner connection that Geertz refers to, is achieved by means of sacred religious symbols. What sacred symbols do for people (who maintain the symbols as sacred) is firstly to “formulate an image of the world’s construction” (97) and secondly they provide a “program for human conduct” (97). The two aspects of sacred symbols mutually confirm one another. The sacred symbols are “mere reflexes” (97) of one another and make the way people do things justifiable. Such sacred symbols:
“render the world view believable and the ethos justifiable and they do it by involving each in support of the other” (97)
The framework to perceive reality is believable in response to the ethos it has been formed from. The ethos is justifiable because the world view or framework is considered true.
One can see that in response to the above description, one of Geertz’s unique strengths (as a consequence from the study of religion) is delineating religious patterns. The belief system acts as a symbolic sacred framework through which the truth of reality is understood. The sacred symbol of belief also provides a guide for action and conduct in everyday life.
Geertz relates the sacred symbol, to the Indonesian and Moroccan Islamic cultures. In doing so Geertz reveals religious patterns and social process in both of these cultures. According to Geertz, Indonesian illuminationism portrays a reality that is “an aesthetic hierarchy culminating in a void, and projects a style of life celebrating mental poise” (98).
In contrast, Gertz portrays Moroccan maraboutism with a conception of reality as “a field of spiritual energies nucleating in persons of individual men, and it projects a lifestyle of moral passion” (98).
According to the study by Anthony F. Wallace on The Prophetic Personality, in a situation of cultural crisis, a prophet will arise to lead the human community into a revitalization movement culminating in social and religious progress. Geertz’s model of Moroccan maraboutism portrays Lyusi as the prophetic hero who arises and promotes progress in face of crisis, by means of confrontation, “strong-man politics” and the pious “virtue of a saint” (33).
In contrast, Indonesian illuminationism portrays a prophetic hero, who would be considered unmanly in Morocco. Kalidaga is the Indonesian prophet who resolves the cultural crisis of Indonesia by means of stillness. Geertz’s unique strength in the study of religion surfaces in the above examples. He shows that religion does work; that religion is a process that creates change, progress and growth, that religion modifies, to try to help make society work. In relation to the Indonesian and Moroccan culture, the sacred symbol of the prophet changed, because those types of forces were necessary to bring about progress in their specific cultures, even though both cultures were Islamic. Geertz shows a concrete example of how sacred symbol, even though changing, links religious belief (ie. the image of the prophet) to ethos (the type of action a people deem justifiable in order to achieve progress and resolution of cultural crisis).
Another of Geertz’s unique contributions to the study of religion is, understanding of religion as a pattern, an unconscious process of selection and absorption and re-working. Geertz contrasts two quite different civilizations, the Moroccan and Indonesian in terms of a micro-level of study, by means of his own experiential research. He then uses what is found in the micro-level study and applies it to the macro-level for an overall view of the process and patterns of religion–in terms of the analysis of culture and how religion grows out of and ultimately beyond that culture (94). A religious pattern according to Geertz, is a dialectic or religion transcending culture (and common sense) and vice versa. Thus, Geertz leads one to understand religion and ethos (common sense action) in terms of one another.
The Scripturalist interlude is an example of a changing pattern at work in both the Indonesian and Moroccan civilizations.
The three forces whose impact is found (during the Scripturalist interlude) in both civiliztions are “the establishment of Western domination, the increasing influence of scholastic doctrinal…scriptural Islam, and the crystallization of the activist nation-state. These three processes of cultural, social change together have changed the “old-order” Indonesia and Morocco. ‘A step backward often emerges before a leap itself is taken’ ” (69). Both civiliztions have responded to social changes by stepping back into a re-discovery of the Scripture. Scripturalism surfaces as the adaptive change of religion in response to the impact of social change. Sacred symbols once again link the new frameworks of belief and ethos. Through the altered social situation sacred symbols have transformed from:
“religious symbols of imagistic revelations of the Divine, evidences of God, to ideological assertions of the Divine’s importance, badges of piety …” (61)
This process has been common to both the Indonesian and Moroccan culture, as has been the “loss of spiritual self-confidence” (62)
As a result the attractiveness of the religions of Kalidaga and Lyusi is still present, but the certitude these traditions used to produce is not present, since social conditions have changed over time. The Islamic Scripturalist Interlude has been an attempt to re-establish the “original” religious beliefs, while simultaneously being progressive and modern (63).
The Indonesian general scripturalist movement has been mostly associated with the word santri (religious student). In Morocco it has centered around the same type of figure called a taleb. The movements were not highly organized. What became of these movements, or shift back to ‘orthodox belief’ created the new ethos of pilgrimage to Mecca, the Muslim boarding school, and the internal market system (67). These three newly adapted ways of human action became sacred symbols, linking belief to action or ethos. The Scripturalist interlude was the Islamic attempt to adapt religion in order to solve a situation of social response to:
“the industrial revolution, Western intrusion and domination, the decline of the aristocractic principle of government, and the triumph of radical nationalism” (57).
The classical religious styles, illuminationism and maraboutism, no longer have the definition they once had. Geertz shows, through his description of the Scripturalist interlude, the changing pattern of religion, as an interplay with a changing culture.
The result is described by Geertz as “radical fundamentalism and determined modernism” (69). Islam then becomes a “justification for modernity without itself actually becoming modern” (69). The new figures of spirituality surface, during the scripturalist interlude, as President Sukarno and the Sultan Muhammed V. (instead of Kalidjaga and Lyusi of classical times).
Once again, we can see the emerging pattern of the prophet leader who tries to establish order out of a cultural crisis and change. Sukarno promotes nationalism, humanitarianism, Democracy, Social Justice and Belief in God (85). Mohammed V seemed to be of genuine piety and became a popular hero, leading an independent Morocco (80). The Scripturalist Interlude reinforces Geertz’s religious perspective of religion as process.
In conclusion I have discussed a few of Geertz’s strengths in relation to the study of religion. Geertz combines phenomenology, with social historical, and anthropological approaches to the study of religion. Unique is his micro-level method of anthropological field research, applied to a macro-level understanding of the emerging patterns of religion.
Geertz has shown how religious symbols link belief with ethos and how Scripturalism has acted to further the process of religious and social change in Morocco and Indonesia. The emerging process of changing religious patterns in mutual confirmation with social change, readily coalesce with the function of religion (within any civilization) as progressive, even though passing through a series of vicissitudes.
Geertz, Clifford. Islam Observed, 1968, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.