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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.

Written by,

Deborah Morrison

 

Works Cited

Chakrabarti, Mohit ‘Ganhian Mysticism’ 1989.

                    Atlantic Publishers and Distributors,

                   New Delhi, India.

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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.

By

 Deborah Morrison

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

All references to the book of Job in this article refer to:

The New Jerusalem Bible.  1990.  Bantam Publishing Ltd., London

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Our journey of writing “Nexus” began during a seminar led by Richard G. Green. We didn’t know it then but Richard would become our writing mentor.

Photo of Richard Green

The seminar was about Native story-telling but you anyone was welcome to attend, Native and non-Native. During the seminar, Richard talked about the importance of finding your voice and how writing can be therapeutic. All interesting stuff but what really got us was when he described the eccentric fixtures of a writer’s mind.

While at a bus stop, most people are too busy with their own concerns. But not the writer who is busy checking everyone waiting at the bus-stop. She would create a whole story about each person from just watching them. Amazing Richard was completely describing us our innate curiosity for people and the world.

Most writers are in denial of the fact that they are writers. So, during the break, 6′2″ Richard stood over 5′2″ Deborah and firmly asked: “Are you a writer?”

She hesitantly answered “yes” not knowing what she was getting into. We felt an excitement from admitting that we’re writers. It’s amazing how much energy we put into not admitting something to yourself and when you do then you feel a release.

We had bought Richard’s book on writing, The Writing Experience, an Iroquois guide to written storytelling and used it as our guide to the fascinating world of story-telling………And that’s how our journey began as writers and it led to “Nexus.”

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Deborah Morrison & Arvind Singh from Ontario, Canada explore their gifts as novelists through a captivating book called NEXUS. Deborah has previously written a book of poetry called Mystical Poetry, and she has published many articles on health and spirituality. Arvind has published a number of articles on spiritual and philosophical thought both in English and South Asian languages and this is his first book.

NEXUS is an amazing spiritual adventure of Personal Transformation & Empowerment. Readers have described it as Insightful, Captivating and Inspirational. It builds on the experiences of both authors as teachers of relaxation, breath and yoga therapies. Through a poignant journey to a retreat, each person in the novel is looking to overcome personal pain including the main character, Logan Andrews.

Logan, a journalist in his mid-20s, struggles with depression to the point of suicide. Can he control his troubled mind before its too late?

In a vivid dream, Logan is guided to a spiritual retreat where he meets his lost love, Sarah, along with an arrogant millionaire, a grandmotherly woman and two insightful teachers.

Problems soon emerge for Logan and others at the retreat. What happens to each character and the depth of their personal experiences makes NEXUS a journey of transformation and a compelling read.

I’ve read many spiritual books but this one succeeds where others fail. It successfully combines a poignant story fraught with true human emotions of personal pain along with remarkable spiritual insights. James Bertrand

Nexus made me laugh and it made me cry. The story touched on many issues that I have struggled with in my own life and it gave practical advice on transforming my life. Its perfect for anyone looking for an Inspiring, Spiritual book filled with practical wisdom. Harpal Singh Khalsa.

A simple story with a simple message, Nexus invites you in to explore the characters’ thoughts and feelings along side your own. Nancy Noble

This book is totally amazing!!! It works like a dream at a subconscious level of understanding even if consciously you’re unaware of its full spiritual dimensions. Aaron

Quality Paperback edition

Published by Manor House Publishing

NEXUSImage

Available online from

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | Chapters-Indigo

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“Nexus” is now being offered with “The Secret” at a special price on Amazon.ca when both books are puchased together. Click on the icon below to visit the link.

Buy Nexus with The Secret by Rhonda Byrne today!

Nexus The Secret

Total List Price: CDN$ 46.41
Buy Together Today: CDN$ 30.98

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To know yourself is the most important aspect of spiritual life.
While no book can reveal this fully, since knowing yourself is a personal journey for each individual. Yet the journey of each person in NEXUS touches the mind and especially the heart. Words are powerful as they can reveal, heal, illuminate and move the spirit. They can act on our mind as a balm.

Ever since I can remember, this quasi-magical quality of language, where the words act upon our psyche to create new insights and meaning, has always fascinated me. The richness of symbolic meaning is given life by our imagination and consciousness.

This is why I have been fascinated by mystical and spiritual language because realities outside ordinary experience are made real by rich symbols. Writing became an extension of this fascination with creative possibilities contained in language.

Deborah and I wrote NEXUS to offer readers a unique journey from surface pain and sorrow to the realization of a deeper peace that is within us – at the core of our being. Journey to this innermost part is “connecting to the Nexus within” and our novel explores this search.

The search for peace is not something new. Ancient civilizations have quested for the answer to self-knowledge contained in an essential question: “Who am I?”

This self-inquiry yields our infinitude as we move past labels of name, nationality, race, gender and religion. At the surface level are these labels deep within is peace.

Our mind is full of worry but when we can objectify our thoughts, we realize that our true nature is outside the thoughts as an ever-present spiritual reality. That realization is the essence of peace. Surface thoughts and emotions pass away like shadows cast by moving clouds, yet at our centre we can find stillness, silence and peace.

The outside is like the rim of a wheel always spinning but the central hub is steady and peaceful.

Wheel

In NEXUS, we experientially explore many insights into spiritual life in the narrative. The journey of personal transformation needs to communicate to the heart. So it can’t be a theory of living but a unique experience of personal transformation from the struggles of people in the novel.

Each person needs to reconnect to their inner centre of peace, their Nexus within, in order to find the source of compassion, peace and strength. Of course, the centre is always there except it can be covered by hurt and pain of experiences.

In some cases, the affliction can be deeply buried like a wound. So it requires conscious awareness before release is possible. After the heart is unburdened from laden emotions, then the truth of who you really are can be known.

Peace is not something we have to find, since it is always within us. Rather we need to uncover it. Our surface condition has an apparent reality, yet true transformation comes from within – at the core of our being.

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Both transcendence (nirgun) and immanence (sagun) aspects play an important part in the awareness of spiritual life. Transcendence requires an expansion of our awareness through Grace, while immanence requires for the Divine to be brought to our level of understanding.

The Opening Stanza of the Sikh Morning Prayer, Japuji Sahib, offers an exploration of transcendental attributes from a unique perspective. Contemplation of Transcendent qualities of the Supreme Soul, Paramatman, will fashion our own soul.

Here is a rendering of the Opening Stanza of Japuji Sahib called Ml Mantra with explanatory notes below each attribute:

1 OM Manifest,

1-on-kr

Please read Connectedness in Ik Onkar Symbol for a detailed explaination of this attribute. It is a transcendent quality that is both manifest and yet always remains unchangeable in its oneness. Ordinarily our mind is in dualistic thought, dividing reality into categories, labels and opposites. During a mystical encounter with the underlying Oneness behind appearances we are granted an undivided, non-dualistic vision.

Truename,

Satinmu

Satya, derived from Sanskrit root “to be,” refers to “existence,” “being” and “consciousness.” The truth rests in conscious awareness. Therefore, Ikonkar and Satinam together can be translated as “The One Onkar, whose name is existence.”

Creator Person,

Kart Purukhu

This attribute signifies that the doer of all actions is the Supreme. By ascribing all actions to a higher power, we can control pride and ego.

Fearless,

Nirbhao

In our life, we have fears – fears of economic hardship, political instability, crime, war and ultimately of death. These fears originate from attaching ourselves to temporally real and changeable aspects of life. When, however, we recognize the eternal ultimate reality behind appearances all our fears are erased from our mind.

Without hatred,

Nirvairu

Hatred can often be rooted in our own projected fears. When we fail to examine our own shortcomings, we have to tendency to see them in others. If we examine our own heart, we would recognize that what we hate in others is often an aspect of us that we have hidden from awareness.

As we connect to the Real, we lose our fears and no longer need to feel hostility to others, since our self regains its natural confidence in knowing its real spiritual worth.

Eternal form,

Akal Mrat

The physical forms in the temporal world are not eternal. This is a quality of the spirit-soul, atman, as the eternal form.

Unincarnated,

Ajn

Literally “not of the womb,” hence unincarnated. This also shows transcendence over transmigration of the soul from countless births and deaths. The Real is omnipresent and cannot be limited to any human birth.

Self-existent.

Saibhang

In the natural world, existence depends upon an external cause. A human being came into existence through parents. Even one-celled organisms derived their existence from the division of a “parent” cell through fission. Fire cannot burn without fuel and in an ecosystem a balance is achieved through the interdependence of various animals upon one another.

Self-existence means that your personal existence is no longer dependent on something outside you. The Real is complete on its own and requires no other support for its existence.

By Guru’s Grace

Gur parsdi

We believe that we create all changes in our life, yet the presence of a Higher Power in our lives can transform us. Our belief of independent action is only true to the extent that we are guided and inspired by Divine Grace. Personal effort has a place, yet it yields to Grace to refashion the senses, the heart and mind. We have difficulty controlling or forcing change in our lives on our own, though with sincere prayer we find strength to persevere.

We are like farmers of our consciousness, who through our efforts till the soil with meditation, plant the seeds of good action, and take out weeds of egoism. Yet without Grace like the farmer waiting for rain during a drought, our efforts will not yield harvest and at such trying times our faith is tested.

When the time is right, Grace will enter our life. We cannot control when it comes and instead we develop gratitude for all gifts including our life at all times – whether good or fraught with difficulties.

See also:

First Verse of Sikh Morning Prayer (Japuji Sahib): Path to Truth

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