Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Delight of Works

IN THY works there are always these three, the Master, the
Worker and the Instrument. To define them in oneself rightly
and rightly to possess them is the secret of works and of the
delight of works.

Learn thou first to be the instrument of God and to accept
thy Master. The instrument is this outward thing thou callest
thyself; it is a mould of mind, a driving-force of power, a machinery
of form, a thing full of springs and cogs and clamps and
devices. Call not this the Worker or the Master; it can never be
the Worker or the Master. Accept thyself humbly, yet proudly,
devotedly, submissively and joyfully as a divine instrument.
There is no greater pride and glory than to be a perfect
instrument of the Master.

Learn thou first absolutely to obey. The sword does not
choose where it shall strike, the arrow does not ask whither it
shall be driven, the springs of the machine do not insist on the
product that shall be turned out from its labour. These things
are settled by the intention and working of Nature and the more
the conscious instrument learns to feel and obey the pure and
essential law of its nature, the sooner shall the work turned out
become perfect and flawless. Self-choice by the nervous motivepower,
revolt of the physical and mental tool can only mar the

Let thyself drive in the breath of God and be as a leaf in
the tempest; put thyself in His hand and be as the sword that
strikes and the arrow that leaps to its target. Let thy mind be as
the spring of the machine, let thy force be as the shooting of a
piston, let thy work be as the grinding and shaping descent of
the steel on its object. Let thy speech be the clang of the hammer
on the anvil and the moan of the engine in its labour and the cry
of the trumpet that proclaims the force of God to the regions.
In whatsoever way do as an instrument the work that is natural
to thee and appointed.The sword has a joy in the battle-play, the arrow has a mirth
in its hiss and its leaping, the earth has a rapture in its dizzy whirl
through space, the sun has the royal ecstasy of its blazing splendours
and its eternal motion. O thou self-conscious instrument,
take thou too the delight of thy own appointed workings.
The sword did not ask to be made, nor does it resist its user,
nor lament when it is broken. There is a joy of being made and
a joy of being used and a joy of being put aside and a joy too of
being broken. That equal joy discover.Because thou hast mistaken the instrument for the worker
and the master and because thou seekest to choose by the ignorance
of thy desire thy own state and thy own profit and thy own
utility, therefore thou hast suffering and anguish and hast many
times to be thrust into the red hell of the furnace and hast many
times to be reborn and reshaped and retempered until thou shalt
have learned thy human lesson.And all these things are because they are in thy unfinished
nature. For Nature is the worker and what is it that she works
at? She shapes out of her crude mind and life and matter a fully
conscious being.

Know thyself next as the Worker. Understand thy nature to be
the worker and thy own nature and All-Nature to be thyself.
This nature-self is not proper to thee nor limited. Thy nature
has made the sun and the systems, the earth and her creatures,
thyself and thine and all thou art and perceivest. It is thy friend
and thine enemy, thy mother and thy devourer, thy lover and
thy torturer, the sister of thy soul and an alien and a stranger,
thy joy and thy sorrow, thy sin and thy virtue, thy strength and
thy weakness, thy knowledge and thy ignorance. And yet it is
none of these things, but something of which they are attempts
and imperfect images. For beyond all these it is an original

self-knowledge and an infinite force and innumerable quality.
But in thee there is a special movement, a proper nature
and an individual energy. Follow that like a widening river till it
leads thee to its infinite source and origin.
Know therefore thy body to be a knot in Matter and thy
mind to be a whirl in universal Mind and thy life to be an eddy
of Life that is for ever. Know thy force to be every other being’s
force and thy knowledge to be a glimmer from the light that
belongs to no man and thy works to be made for thee and be
delivered from the error of thy personality.
When that is done, thou shalt take thy free delight in the
truth of thy individual being and in thy strength and in thy glory
and in thy beauty and in thy knowledge; and in the denial of these
things thou shalt take delight also. For all this is the dramatic
mask of the Person and the self-image of the self-Sculptor.
Why shouldst thou limit thyself? Feel thyself also in the
sword that strikes thee and the arms that embrace, in the blazing
of the sun and the dance of the earth, in the flight of the eagle
and the song of the nightingale, in all that is past and all that
is now and all that is pressing forward to become. For thou art
infinite and all this joy is possible to thee.
TheWorker has the joy of her works and the joy of her Lover
for whom she works. She knows herself to be his consciousness
and his force, his knowledge and his reserving of knowledge, his
unity and his self-division, his infinity and the finite of his being.
Know thyself also to be these things; take thou also the delight
of thy Lover.There are those who know themselves as a workshop or an
instrument or the thing worked, but they mistake the Worker
for the Master; this too is an error. Those who fall into it can
hardly arrive at her high, pure and perfect workings.
The instrument is finite in a personal image, the worker
is universal with a personal trend, but neither of these is the
Master; for neither is the true Person.

Know last the Master to be thyself; but to this self put no form
and seek for it no definition of quality. Be one with That in thy
being, commune with That in thy consciousness, obey That in
thy force, be subject to That and clasped by it in thy delight, fulfil
That in thy life and body and mentality. Then before an opening
eye within thee there shall emerge that true and only Person,
thyself and not thyself, all others and more than all others, the
Director and Enjoyer of thy works, the Master of the worker
and the instrument, the Reveller and Trampler in the dance of
the universe and yet hushed and alone with thee in thy soul’s
silent and inner chamber.

The joy of the Master possessed, there is nothing else for
thee to conquer. For He shall give thee Himself and all things
and all creatures’ gettings and havings and doings and enjoyings
for thy own proper portion, and He shall give thee that also
which cannot be portioned.

Thou shalt contain in thy being thyself and all others and
be that which is neither thyself nor all others. Of works this is
the consummation and the summit.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


The Bhaktivedanta Institute from the ISKCON has released the ' The Vedic Cosmos' video, which is a depiction of the Cosmos as stated in the ancient Vedic Literature such as ' The Bhagavatam', 'The Mahabharata' etc. The video also shows the scientific view regarding the ancient Vedic science. An animated version of the Cosmos is excellently depicted with a very good background score and commentary. Their might be variation with what the ancient seers might have seen in their vision and what's depicted about the Cosmos in the video yet for one who is unacquainted with the ancient literature and it's contents, one will be wonderstuck with the knowledge and wisdom of the ancient seers. Though this video is intended for the western people at large ,this video no doubt incites vigour and vitality to anyone who watches it, even to the lay Hindu people of India, who are unaware of the treasures of our own motherland.

The video link for 'The vedic cosmos' in you tube is

The entire video is split into six parts in the you tube. This video is posted in the you tube by
Dr.Tommy Gouranga in his domain. I have provided his link.

One more link in you tube on "Mysteries of Sacred Universe" by Richard L. Thompson is excellent. It depicts how the various Celestial universe as stated in the Vedic Scriptures is possible to exist as parallel universe and the variation in size of the demigods and the beings on earth. It also tells about the travel from one realm to another through the etheral planes by which ancient Vedic seers lived their day to day lives. Imagine, who's gonna believe this in this age of atheism and agnosticism. Future science may unravel the secrets of the universe but even then it would be for materialistic personal gains alone isn't. It's written that the portals for the Celestial spheres will be closed until the age of kali comes to an end.

but chiraan, a well known expert in the sanskrit language and the Shastras from madhava sampradaya states in his blog that"Theory of planar projection is not in accordance with the puranas . secondly theoritical explanation of day and night at opposite points is also not justified . DAy and night occur owing to Meru obstructing the rays of sun . at the same time, it is said there is 365 days of sun in ilavrat khand in the chaturasra around Meru which negates every theory" .
So for an accurate and authentic intrepretation, please log on to chiraan's blog page, his webpage is as follows

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Ways to the Path and Its States and Stages

Truly happy people are rare in spite of the smiles which are usually the brave front for varying degrees of internal misery. Yet everywhere and in every walk of life, man is longing for happiness and searching desperately for some means of breaking out of the trap which his life has become.

It is not his fault if he assumes that the solution to his deep dissatisfaction lies in a sensual world, or in achievement in business or the social world, or in a life of exciting experiences. Neither is it his fault if life is not usually long enough to teach him factually that he would find even more profound disillusionment if these goals were to be fulfilled to the hilt.

If he would suspect that his ideas of achieving a successful and happy life were wrong, and that he must try some new way of living, then the stalemate might be broken. A new line in the divine picture is sketched only when some individual takes life forcefully in his hands, breaks up the old patterns and insists on creating something new by his own inner vision.

Progress in the inner life of the individual is accomplished by such a breaking with the old and venturing forth into new ways. True happiness can come only to one who will find the courage to strike free of the attachments which he has formed throughout a sterile lifetime. If he will not do this, then he is shackled endlessly to the treadmill of oppressive action in which happiness is so transient that it has almost disappeared, there is left only the persistent, bottomless vacuity of mind which strangles life, regardless of repeated efforts to fill it with endless experiences.
Such suffering comes from blunt ignorance or persistent attachment to illusion. The average person plays with illusion as children play with toys. It is not easy for little children to give up their toys, and it is equally difficult for adults to relinquish the mental and emotional toys to which they have become habituated. The mind of the individual is very old, and through the ages it has become deeply engrossed in playing with illusion. It has become addicted to this self-created spectacle, and it has had no thought other than to go on watching with fascination through cycles and cycles of creation.

During this period of rebirth in cosmic illusion, the individualized soul becomes identified with the physical body due to the limitations imposed upon consciousness by the impressions (sanskaras). Its knowledge of reality is therefore necessarily restricted to the products and inferences of sense-perception. Information so obtained is completely inadequate and even misleading insofar as the true nature of reality is concerned.

The quest for happiness is irretrievably enmeshed in the problem of the illusion of the world of form with which the individual self has become identified through the body. If this illusion can be shattered, the shackles which bind happiness are automatically shattered as well. But how to shatter the illusion? An individual who mistakenly believes he is a coward may live a lifetime of misery during which all his actions are shaped by this incorrect belief. But if some event in his life challenges him so deeply that he unthinkingly strides forth with great courage, then the illusion will suddenly vanish and he will see himself as a different being. Often it takes a real crisis to bring out a sure knowledge of the real inner self, and it is always a creative knowledge.
Even as the individual can be wrong in his convictions regarding his own nature, so he is often quite wrong about the nature of the world around him. In reality, it is a world of illusion that separates him from his true birthright of freedom and happiness in oneness with the One.
Actually, no individual is entirely devoid of some real happiness in some form, for God as an endless and fathomless ocean of bliss is also within every person, and no one is entirely cut off from him. Pleasure sought in illusion inevitably results in endless perpetuation of that very same false life of the ego, which leaves the individual exposed to intense suffering.

The whole play of illusion and the suffering it engenders functions by the divinely established law of karma (cause and effect). Therefore suffering must be accepted with grace and fortitude. It must be remembered that one's own actions are the cause of much of one's suffering, and therefore wise action can minimize it. But real alleviation of suffering requires spiritual enlightenment, and for that man must turn to the Perfect Masters and the God-man (Avatar).
If the world of form is only an illusion in reality, and if its harvest is such a rich one of misery, then why should its experience be required of the soul?

Life in the world of matter is an unavoidable phase in the progress of the individual, inasmuch as it provides the field for action. Action is the expression and therefore the focusing of the mental and emotional impressions (sanskaras) which impel the individual. As the individual acts, other motivating forces incompatible with that momentary effort are withheld.

Action is the paramount means through which the individual exercises discrimination in choice and adjustment between the many claims exerted upon his consciousness. Action also links a large number of individuals together through the innumerable karmic ties which have arisen out of past service and bondage. The material world offers the necessary environment for this interchange and interdependence.

On the one hand these karmic ties trap the mind in a complex web. On the other hand they facilitate collective life with all its opportunities for exercise of love, sacrifice, service, and mutual help. Through the negative lessons of hate and malice, as well as the positive lessons of love and service, the individual finds himself compelled to participate in collective effort. The mind's seeming isolation is continually invaded by the life-streams of other minds, ultimately enabling the individual to abandon entirely the illusion he had entertained of being separate. Thus he gradually comes to realize the unity of all life.

In spite of the suffering entailed, experience in the material world of action is thus not without compensating value. It constitutes a necessary phase in purifying the consciousness of the mind from all illusion in order that it may be transmuted into the consciousness of the soul.
One sees then that the material and spiritual worlds of lower and higher illusion play an irreplaceable role in the divine game, which has as its goal that man shall become consciously aware of his own divinity. The positive values derived from the divine sport in illusion cannot be harvested without simultaneous collection of the residual by-products of the coming-to-consciousness, termed "impressions" or "sanskaras".

A newly constructed building is not considered to be really completed until the debris of construction has been cleared away. Similarly, the fully developed individual consciousness is not available for union with the Divine until these residual products have been cleaned away and there is left only the completely untrammeled, unitary nature of the individualized soul, now fully conscious of self. As discussed earlier, in the process of both sleep and death the individual returns unconsciously and briefly to the beyond-beyond state of God. In it the soul achieves refreshment before it returns first to the subconscious state of ordinary dreams or the intense subconscious state of heaven or hell, and then to the ordinary conscious state of wakefulness or reincarnate life.

The individual cannot remain in the beyond-beyond state of God for long and for very important reasons. The goal is to achieve the full awareness of consciousness, which is fully achieved when all of the residual impressions have been dispelled.

Full consciousness is achieved in the first human form, but remains captured, so to speak, by the residual impressions, which continue to exist regardless of the waking or sleep state of the individual mind. It is as if they continued to stand as the unpaid balance of the price of consciousness. It is due to the standing impressions or sanskaras that the individual consciousness must return again and again from oblivion to square its account with illusion, in illusion.

However consciousness must eventually disengage itself from enmeshment in the material realm of action, for in the long run all activities of the worldly man are like the movements of someone on the surface of the ocean. He develops some knowledge of the ocean of life through these activities, but only as much as is obtainable through exploration on the surface of the ocean. The time inevitably comes when he wearies of surface-wanderings and makes up his mind to plunge into the depths of the ocean of life.

Thereupon he becomes deeply concerned with the riddles of "whither" and "whence", and this fact constitutes his spiritual birth, by which he is eventually ushered onto the path.
The path of divine knowledge has both beginning and end. In rare cases, a pilgrim may be very advanced due to efforts in previous incarnations. In such cases he may attain divine knowledge instantaneously as a gift bestowed upon him through the grace of a master. In most cases, though, the pilgrim has to travel the path by stages, attaining this knowledge gradually.
The understanding of God which the average person attains through belief or reasoning is so far removed from true understanding that it cannot be called inner knowledge.

Such true knowledge (gnosis) does not consist in the construction or perception of an ideology. It is the product of ripening experience that attains increasing degrees of clarity. It consists in man's consciousness becoming more real and participating increasingly in the truth, until there is nothing more to become, and nothing more to assimilate.
The devotional rituals followed in religions do not lead the seeker to the true inner journey, for in greater part they are mechanical observances barren of the redeeming experience of divine love.
Nevertheless, regardless of how rudimentary these types of belief and devotional observances may be, they do contain in latent form the future inner knowledge.

As the aspirant struggles through the obscuring fog of mental and emotional tension his consciousness becomes more one-pointed, forming a spearhead that eventually pierces through the curtain to the inner path of divine knowledge. Even the early glimpses of this knowledge which the pilgrim gets are a great advance over understanding that rests solely upon faith or reason.

As the aspirant advances towards the path he undergoes a significant change of direction that might be compared to a somersault. He is now more concerned with the inner realities of life than with their outward expression. As the emphasis shifts from the external to the internal aspects of life, the deepening of consciousness is greatly accelerated. Now consciousness is no longer committed primarily to external incidents or routines, but is directed towards the deeper and truer aspects of being that demand greater integrity of thought and feeling.

Caught up with this deeper awareness of the self is a concurrent deepening of perception into the workings of the world. A refocusing of consciousness occurs which is far-reaching. All the avenues through which the individual conducts his search are radically transformed by the sincerity and concentrated purpose of his effort. The increasing depths of his internal understanding suffuse every aspect of life, giving it new form and meaning and causing him to hasten his exploration with the greatest exhilaration.

Poise of the mind born of the pilgrim's new understanding automatically and unwittingly brings about a readjustment of material surroundings, and he finds himself at peace with the world. Conservatism, intolerance, pride and selfishness are shed, and everything takes on a new meaning and purpose.

Sinner and saint appear to be waves on the surface of the same ocean, differing only in magnitude, each the natural outcome of forces in the universe rooted in time and causation. The saint is seen to have no pride of position and the sinner no stigma of eternal degradation. Nobody is utterly lost and nobody need despair.

The "internalizing" which is the real basis of entering upon the path should not be confused with the purely intellectual discovery that there could be an inner life. Nor should the gradual and natural shift from participation in external events to a focusing on inner development be confused with the limited intellectual detachment some persons achieve. Since such detachment is only intellectual, it brings freedom only in the realm of limited intellect and is usually characterized by a sort of dryness of being.

The intellectually detached often try to shape the present in the light of knowledge of history, as well as through their insight into the possibilities of the unborn future. At best, such a purely intellectual perspective inevitably remains partial, sketchy, incomplete, and in a sense even erroneous. Further, the intellectually detached are almost never in vital communication with the elements which so largely shape the course of the present.

Therefore their beliefs, even if transformed into effort, rarely produce marked results. The limited intellect is not competent to grasp qualities which are beginningless and endless.
Intellectual perspective is workable and even indispensable for planned action. Yet in the absence of illuminating wisdom of heart and clear intuition of spirit, intellectual perspective gives only relative truth bearing the ineradicable stamp of uncertainty.

So-called intellectually planned action is really the product of weighty subconscious forces which have not yet risen to the threshold of consciousness of the planner. Thus, planning often leads to many results entirely unanticipated in the so-called planning. In other words, "planning" turns out to be planning in name only, containing only sufficient conscious participation by the planners to satisfy their need to feel that they have a real share in the whole game.

Intellectual perspective, intellectual planning and intellectual detachment should therefore be carefully separated from the robust exploration of the inner self and the internalizing of the facts of existence that characterize the individual who has set foot on the path.

Although the unfurling realization of divine knowledge is often figuratively described as "traversing the path", this analogy should not be taken too literally. There is no ready-made road in the spiritual realm. Spiritual process is not a matter of moving along a line already laid down and unalterably defined. Rather, it is a creative process of spiritual involution of consciousness, and this process is better described as a "spiritual journey" than as the traversing of a path. The journey is comparable in fact to a flight through the air, and not to a journey upon the earth, because it is truly a pathless journey. It is a dynamic movement within the consciousness of the aspirant that creates its own path and leaves no traces behind it.
The metaphor of "the path" is helpful to the aspirant in the early stages of his development because it gives him the sense of new phases of consciousness to be experienced. This anticipation is stimulated further by accounts of others who have completed the spiritual
journey. This makes the pilgrim's ascent easier than if it depended solely upon his own unguided efforts to visualize the probable path.

While trying to understand the path as described by the masters, the aspirant must also make use of his own imaginative faculty, but within the constructive bounds defined in the master's spiritual guidance. Actual spiritual experience is as far removed from uncontrolled imaginative expectation as reality is from chaotic dreams. Though the imagination of the pilgrim is inevitably determined by past experience, it must offer no resistance to the directional suggestions of the master.

In fact, increasing surrender to the guidance of the master involves drastic curtailment of deceptive imagination—the roots of which are deeply imbedded in the mental and emotional past of the pilgrim. With the gradual transmutation of the aspirant's imaginative faculty into divine consciousness, the veil of ignorance becomes steadily less opaque. In the end, all imagination comes to a standstill and is replaced by the true everlasting realization of God as the sole reality. Thus "the journey", like everything else in duality, is also an imaginative one, but it leads ultimately to final and enduring knowledge unclouded by any kind of imagination or transitory fantasy.

As the aspirant progresses on the spiritual path, a fundamental modification in the structure of his sanskaras begins to occur. Whereas, before, the expression of one sanskara in the world of form resulted in the inevitable creation of fresh sanskaras, this self-perpetuating process now begins to draw to a close. As the aspirant's assertive lower self begins to be removed, the tension of the existing impressions can be released or expressed without the creation of fresh sanskaras.
At first slowly, but with gradually increasing speed, the old sanskaras are spent with less and less attendant creation of fresh sanskaras. With the final cessation of the formation of fresh sanskaras, all past impressions naturally unwind to the finish and then, free of all impressions, the soul stands fully Self-conscious forever.

The various routes by which the individual may start on the journey are many indeed. Several of the principal ones are referred to as Dnyana Marga or the way of knowledge, Karma Marga or
the way of action, Bhakti Marga or the way of devotion, and Yoga Marga or the way of mental and physical discipline. Each of these paths may be regarded as a routine, dutifully followed, and unthinkingly executed, or it may be transmuted into a path of living discovery by having become the focal point of the aspirant's entire being.

Dnyana Marga, or the way of knowledge, may consist in the pursuit of speculative philosophy, either through independent thinking or in the study of existing systems of philosophic thought. Or it may be transformed through concentrating the mind and the entire personality on the truths hitherto mentally grasped. Such deep meditation of spiritual realities is aimed at assimilating their inner meaning, and results in lifting them out of the category of intellectual playthings into animating principles which invade and gradually transmute the innermost core of the aspirant.

Karma Marga, or the way of action, may normally consist of a life of service to humanity, a life in which effort is expended to improve the well-being of people through social, political, or physical projects. In such service the motivating factor is usually a sense of duty, but often it is corrupted by the desire to achieve power, fame or other personal gain. Regardless, the way of action creates in its wake many joys and many sorrows, much exultation and much disillusionment. It often creates further bindings for the soul and is frequently fraught with nagging restlessness due to the worker's expectation of specific results. As often as not, it results in enlargement of the ego rather than its deflation.

On the other hand, internalizing this same way of action renders it pure, safe, and spontaneous. In such case the aspirant may still be engaged in humanitarian work, but that work is no longer entangled in personal ambition. Such service is not a mechanical response to a sense of duty, but a spontaneous expression of voluntary love. Through it man gradually becomes purer, is freed from many limitations, and finds peace of being as he becomes wholly detached from the results of his actions. Under the enlightening influence of inner understanding, the life of action helps in the elimination of the ego-mind and quickens the pace to attainment of truth-consciousness.
The inner spiritual path is irreplaceable because of the welling up of divine love which occurs during its course. Even in Bhakti Marga as the ordinary religious man of the world practices it, this up-welling of love is absent. It is only in the inner transformation of the way of devotion that the aspirant is initiated into that spontaneous love which needs no outer observance for its realization. Such love springs up spontaneously in the heart under the quickening touch of the master's grace.

Yoga Marga, or the way of mental and physical discipline, is also capable of producing a complete transformation in the aspirant by unfolding the inner path of gnosis or Irfan in him. In his attempt to gain control over mind and body, the worldly man often resorts to these yogic practices and austerities to achieve the discipline he covets.

There are three main systems of yoga: (1) Hatha Yoga which consists of self-mortifying asceticism and physical austerities; (2) Raja Yoga which is the process of mental self-denial through resistance to all desires; and (3) the positive system of Pranayama, which consists in the awakening of the Kundalini, and meditation through an ascending order of exercises.
It is characteristic of all the different systems of yoga that they emphasize the purification and preparation of bodies or vehicles of consciousness, rather than concerning themselves directly with the onward movement of consciousness itself. The contribution of yoga is comparable to that of the physician who removes the ailments which have developed in the functioning of the internal organs of the body.

Of the different systems of yoga, Hatha Yoga is the most superficial. The self-imposed austerities represent in a sense a pressuring of God, or of a God-realized Master, for either power or realization. It is a kind of bargaining in which penance is undertaken with an ulterior motive. It can hardly be called self-sacrifice, for the things apparently denied oneself are denied in order that one might have something else. Ultimately it reduces to intelligent selfishness.
Spirituality, as love, can never be achieved through any type of coercion. If spiritual attainment should be sought in this manner, the person invites harm upon himself rather than spiritual benefit, and restriction of power rather than expansion. In brief, he gets exactly the opposite of what he had sought.

The yoga of mental self-denial through resistance to all desires (Raja Yoga) is chiefly negative in its method. It consists in a concentrated attempt to be freed from all good and bad wants and desires. This in itself is a form of wanting, for it is wanting a state of wanting nothing. However, this form of yoga, when carried to its extreme limit, can result in the subjective annihilation of the ego-structure of desires.

The positive system of yoga consisting in the practice of Pranayama (breathing exercises) gives increased control over prana or the vital energy. It also includes the awakening of the Kundalini of the latent spiritual power in man, and is supplemented by an ascending order of meditation exercises. But in this yoga there is the danger of the aspirant having a "fall" and retrogressing spiritually if he misuses his awakened occult powers. This he inevitably does if these powers are awakened before he is spiritually ready.

The aspirant is therefore well advised not to take up this positive system of yoga except under the direct supervision of a master. When aroused under the proper guidance of a master, however, the awakened Kundalini can lead the aspirant to the occult Riddhi-Siddhi powers of the fourth plane which is described later.

In any case, the highest attainment possible through Pranayama, the breath exercise phase of the positive system of yoga, is that of the objective or semi-illumination of the fifth plane.
Both the fifth and sixth planes of gnosis are states of illumination, but they may be either subjective or objective, depending upon the manner in which the illumination has been achieved. The positive systems of yoga lead to the objective illumination of the fifth plane, but such objective illumination can only be termed "semi-illumination", for in it God is experienced as without, and therefore sight of Him is eclipsed or obscure.

In contrast, subjective or full illumination is brought about through the inner path of love, which brings about a blending of devotion, knowledge, and action. Such subjective illumination in the fifth and sixth planes has absolutely no element of obscurity, because God is experienced within. In a sense, God is nearer the subjective realm than the objective, although ultimately He is inclusive of both, as well as beyond both.

Such are the traditional paths by which the aspirant may launch upon his quest for realization. The particular route by which the worldly man will start his search is determined by his temperament and environment. But when he enters the inner spiritual path he seeks the truth of consciousness as it is. This quest for the real compels him to transcend the obscurities of the mind and the twistings which arise from temperament and environment. Even as the inner truths unfold, these factors continue to limit his consciousness, but he is now impelled to make a conscious effort to free himself from their entanglements.

The first evidence in the aspirant of freedom from limitations imposed by the subjective mind is that he begins to understand without prejudice his own nature and environment. To react intelligently to environment is impossible unless its true meaning is understood.
For example, a man habitually inclined to react cynically to all that is good in other people, inevitably fails to appreciate the latent good in those whom he contacts. Consequently he not only misses the pleasure of harmonious relationships with them, but is also prevented from utilizing the potential value of such experience for the good of others.

Similarly, if a man erects his projects on an incorrect evaluation of environment, the energy which he invests in them may be wasted in spite of his enthusiasm. Correct judgment of environment and people is an important requisite of fruitful and right action. It requires in the aspirant both the capacity to rise above his personal prejudices and, more important, to understand them. Judgment befogged by personal bias renders right action impossible.
To illustrate further, if the individual projects the content of his own subjective desires upon another human being, seeing in that person the fulfillment of his emotional longings, and if he acts under the impulse of that blind, driving force, then disappointment is inevitable. He has only seen in the other what is in himself.

There can be no adequate response from the object of one's desire under such emotional compulsion, and therefore no fulfillment. So true understanding of environment is as necessary for attaining soundness and depth of feeling as it is for engendering efficient, creative action. Such true understanding is achieved only when the aspirant frees himself from temperamental compulsion.

The personal factors which cause the worldly man to look upon the various approaches towards truth as widely divergent or even mutually antagonistic, are gradually transcended on the path. Eventually the ways converge, and their interdependence is revealed to the aspirant. He sees that every way implements the others.

Bhakti or devotion becomes the expression of truth through feeling. The way of knowledge becomes assimilation of that same truth through understanding, and the way of action is seen to be the result of the will being actuated by that very same truth.

In the worldly stage man is drawn more to one way than to others because of the particular limitations of his character and environment. On the path they blend with each other as the aspirant gradually succeeds in emancipating himself from the specific restrictions of mind and heart. Even the dry, self-imposed asceticisms of yoga flower as the individual realizes divine love as he follows the inner path.

It is possible by following any of the ways just discussed to lose the individual mind, the lower self, and yet retain complete consciousness. However this is only true when the zenith is reached through the inner path.

The easiest and safest way to lose one's infinite ego is by surrendering completely to the Perfect Master or to the God-man (Avatar), who is consciously one with truth. In them the past, present and future of the individual are drowned and during his implicit obedience to the master he is no longer bound by those actions, good or bad. Such complete surrenderance is in itself complete freedom.

Of all the high roads which take the pilgrim directly to his divine destination, the quickest lies through the God-man (Christ, Messiah, Avatar). In the God-man, God reveals Himself in all His glory, with His infinite power, unfathomable knowledge, inexpressible bliss and eternal existence. The path through the God-man is available to all those who approach Him in complete surrenderance and unwavering faith.

To the one who has unfaltering love for the God-man, the way to abiding truth is clear and safe. Such a one must waste no time playing with things that do not matter. Loyalty to the unchangeable truth, guided by enduring love, is the simple way that leads to God and abiding peace.

Although God is more easily accessible to ordinary man through the God-men, yet God also reveals himself through His impersonal aspect, which is beyond name, form, and time. Regardless of whether it is to be through His personal or His impersonal aspect, it is necessary that the aspirant seek Him and surrender to Him in love.

When the aspirant contemplates only God without a second there is no room for love for God or longing for God. The individual has the intellectual conviction that he is God.
Yet in order to experience that state in actuality, the aspirant goes through intense concentration or meditation on the thought "I am not the body, I am not the mind, I am neither this nor that. I am God." In exceptional cases the individual may experience through meditation what he has assumed himself to be. This mode of experiencing God is not only difficult but dry.
Progress is more realistic and enjoyable when there is ample play of love and devotion to God. This postulates temporary and apparent separateness from God and longing to unite with Him. Such provisional and apparent separateness from God is reflected in the Sufi concepts of the states of "Hama az Ust" or "Everything is from God", and "Hama Doost" or "Everything is for the Beloved God".

In each of these concepts the individual perceives that his separateness from God is only temporary and apparent, and he seeks to restore this lost unity with God through intense love, which consumes all duality. The only difference between these two is that, whereas the individual who follows the concept of "Hama Doost" rests content with the will of God as the Beloved, in the concept of "Hama az Ust" he longs for nothing but union with God.
Since the individualized soul which is in bondage can be redeemed only through divine love, even Perfect Masters who attain complete unity with God and experience Him as the only reality, apparently step into the domain of duality and talk of love, worship and service of God.
Divine love, as sung by Hindu masters like Tukaram, as taught by Christian masters like St. Francis, as preached by Zoroastrian masters like Azer Kaivan and as immortalized by Sufi masters like Hafiz, harbors no thought of the self at all. It consumes all frailties which nourish the illusion of duality, and ultimately unites the individual with God. The awakening of this Divine love in the heart of the aspirant and the cleansing of his being is one of the functions of the God-man and Perfect Masters.

The life of love of a Perfect Master is unperturbed by desires or duality. Once the mind of the aspirant gets a glimpse into this life of true values it protests against the bondage of desires and the cage of the separative ego-life.

The Perfect Master acts from the truth with which he is one, and not from any limited ego-consciousness. Hence his help is more effective than all the unaided effort the aspirant himself can make.

The Perfect Master does not give something which is not already within the aspirant in latent form. He unveils the real self of the aspirant and enables him to come into his own rightful divine heritage.

Complete surrenderance to the God-man is not possible for one and all. When this is not possible, the other high roads which can eventually win the grace of God are:
1. Loving obedience to and remembrance of the God-man to the best of one's ability;
2. Love for God and intense longing to see Him and be united with Him;
3. Being in constant company with the saints and lovers of God and rendering them whole-hearted service;
4. Avoiding lust, greed, anger, hatred, and the temptations of power, fame, and faultfinding;
5. Leaving everyone and everything in complete external renunciation and, in solitude, devoting oneself to fasting, prayer and meditation;
6. Carrying on all worldly duties with a pure heart and clean mind and with equal acceptance of success or failure, while remaining detached in the midst of intense activity; and
7. Selfless service of humanity, without thought of gain or reward.
In the end, all walks of life and all paths ultimately lead to the one goal, which is God. All rivers enter into the ocean regardless of the diverse directions in which they flow, and in spite of the many meanderings they may take. The high roads are important because they take the pilgrim directly to his divine destination, avoiding prolonged wanderings in the wilderness of complicated byways in which the traveler is so often unnecessarily confused.

The various states and stages through which the pilgrim passes on his journey to God realization may be broken down into there phases which the Sufis call Tariqat, Marifat, and Haqiqat. In the first, divine knowledge is experienced on the planes of energy as inner intuition, inspiration, and conviction.* In Sufic terminology this glimpse of divine knowledge is known as Tajurbat-e-Tariqat, and represents a transition from ordinary understanding to a condition of inner experiences of smell, sound, and sight.

During this first stage of unfolding knowledge there is a far deeper conviction about spiritual realities than is possible through the usual understanding of the worldly man. However, even this conviction is not unshakeable. It bestows only a mild and wavering degree of divine knowledge. The pilgrim has now only started on his spiritual journey and must face many trials.

While becoming established in the first stage, many aspirants are unable to cope with the ordeals they encounter as inner sight is opened. Whatever the pilgrim encounters here is for his good, and if he has a master's guidance he need not fear that he will be lost, although at the climax of the first phase (Tariqat), which is the fourth plane, the one real danger of risking a fall does occur through possible misuse of the extraordinary powers associated with this plane.

During this first phase the aspirant is disengaging himself from enmeshment in the material realm of action, and ascending to the realm of energy. This is accomplished through the gradual dissolving of the multitudinous desires which chain his consciousness to the material world. Although the individual is now constantly dependent upon the finer realms of energy, mind, and divine consciousness, even while immersed in the realm of matter, still he cannot live freely in these realms because of his continued enslavement to the gross world.

Moreover, he cannot receive in any appreciable measure the renewal which divine consciousness would pour into him, due to the resistance offered by the entanglements of the dense material plane upon which he lives. Nevertheless it is these divine radiations, meagerly felt though they be, which enable the matter-ridden mind to face suffering and make the effort to rise in the higher realms of energy and mind.

At last, weary of enslavement to the gross world, the individual decides to free himself from the enticements of matter. In this moment of irrevocable decision the individual cuts himself loose from the bondage of gross desires and ascends to the realm of energy. His will now reinforced, the individual prepares for a release of vital force far greater than was ever available to him during his bondage to the gross. The activities of the individual are now more powerful, for his actions are unhindered by the low voltage characterizing the energy of the gross realm.
Often the aspirant becomes absorbed in the new powers now available and he realizes that he can perform miracles and other phenomena. The tendency to wish to perform miracles, or to judge spiritual developments by performance of such spectacles, may persist for some time. Even spiritually advanced persons find it difficult to outgrow this habit of playing with illusion. It is not miracles, but inner illumination which will one day bring true freedom.

In the realm of energy the increased capacity of the individual to receive the downpouring of divine radiation gives him a greater sense of spiritual power, a larger measure of knowledge and a deeper sense of fulfillment, although these are as yet intermittent and fragmentary. The individual continues to carry on the physical plane activities of eating, drinking, and other automatic activities of physical life. But he is no longer the tormented slave of unfulfilled desires rooted in the physical functions, although a recrudescence of desires in a milder form is still possible.

He is now subject though to new forms of restlessness. In desperate search for enduring peace he determines to ascend to the still higher mental sphere, upon which the realm of energy fundamentally depends for sustenance.

Having crossed to this realm, the pilgrim is now at the second phase of the journey, in which he begins to see the light of God. Unfolding divine knowledge now amounts to real illumination, and the aspirant is given knowledge of the past, present, and future. He is now firmly established in the divine path, and there is no longer any risk of his "falling" or losing his true illumination. There are still many trials, but he faces them with conviction, confidence, and resolution.
This second phase occurs at a point which is called Qubuliyat, or "God's acceptance of the pilgrim". Here, being endowed with illumination he knows what trials lie ahead of him, but he also knows that he cannot fall from this fifth plane, and is aware that he can meet any situation adequately.

At a certain time the pilgrim passes to the point described by the Sufis as Marifat, and sees God as He is. This is spoken of as being the sixth plane of ascent of the individual in his conscious return to the One. It is in the mental sphere, as was the fifth plane.

In the sixth plane the freedom, joy and illumination that the soul experiences are all greatly enhanced, as the mind is in direct contact with transcendental divine consciousness. The bliss experienced in this higher realm surpasses all possible pleasures experienced in the realms of matter or energy. There is now absolutely no resistance to the direct infusion of the unceasing radiations of light, power, wisdom, and bliss that overflow from the Godhead. The individual's happiness is unutterable, his vision undimmed, his power unrestrained, his peace undisturbed, and his understanding suffers no slightest momentary impairment. He knows no lack of any kind; he continually sees God as He is.

All that the individual enjoys in the mental realm is still not self-sustained, but is continually supplied by the never-failing emanations from the transcendental Godhead. Although the mind is completely surcharged with the heavenly abundance which descends upon it from God, nevertheless it constantly recognizes its utter dependence upon the renewal which comes to it from above. The higher realm of mind is no less dependent upon the transcendental Godhead than are the lower realms of energy and matter, for the individual, though enjoying perpetually the free life of the spirit, still has not attained unity with the Godhead. He has not yet transcended duality nor realized himself as the Infinite One.

In short, man on the gross plane makes indirect use of energy and mind through the gross sphere, and he can experience only such joy, power, and knowledge as the limitations of the gross permit. Man on the subtle plain uses energy directly but uses mind indirectly, i.e. through the subtle plain. Also his joy, peace and understanding are still severely curtailed by the fact that he cannot make direct contact with the mind itself.

Man on the mental plane can use energy as well as mind directly. Thus he enjoys immeasurable power, knowledge, and bliss, but inasmuch as these are gifts from the Godhead, he still has a sense of dependence. He experiences the attributes of divinity as reflected in the mental spheres, but they do not originate in him.

Even when man is able to make direct use of the mind, he falls short of that ultimate experience of knowing himself as the infinite Godhead. Although the individual experiences uninterrupted self-fulfillment owing to his absorption in the replenishing divinity, still he must transcend the mind completely if he chooses to realize himself as the unlimited and eternal truth, power and bliss of God.

At this stage the traveler sees God as the sole reality, but he may remain absorbed in this sight of sights, or he may cross the final gulf and become one with God.

In the final and third phase of the spiritual journey, called Haqiqat, man becomes one with God as the infinite truth. This realization is self-sustained. Man's consciousness is now completely one with the illimitable truth of the conscious God. The individualized soul has completely transcended the mind and established unity with the Godhead, thereby realizing itself to be the fountainhead of infinite love, infinite peace, infinite bliss, infinite power and infinite knowledge.
These attributes are now no longer received by the individualized soul as emanations from the transcendent Godhead, but are experienced as being the soul's own inalienable characteristics. Nor is this state of superabundance merely one of self-sustained and unmarred spiritual self-sufficiency. It is a spontaneous overflowing in which divine consciousness sheds the glory of its superabundant life upon one and all. In this state God knows Himself as God. The goal has been reached.

To recapitulate, the realization of God as He is has required the complete surrenderance of the false individuality of the separate "I". All sense of separateness and duality is only illusion, sustained by the sanskaras (impressions) of the ego-life and expressed through lust, hate, and greed. Through a pure life of selfless love and service and by the grace of God or a Perfect Master, it is possible to brush away these limiting sanskaras. By transcending the illusory veil of separateness, the individualized soul comes to know itself as identical with God who is the sole reality. God-realization, which is achieved at the end of the last phase of the first journey and on the seventh plane of consciousness in which the mental sphere is completely transcended, is the goal of all life. It is the reason why the entire universe came into existence.

God-realization is sometimes mistakenly considered to be the selfish aim of the limited individual, while in reality there is no room for selfishness or limited individuality in God-realization. On the contrary, it is the final aim of the limited and narrow life of the separate ego. God-realization not only results in the attainment by the individual of an inviolable unity with all life, but also in his dynamic expression of this final realization of truth through a spontaneous and undivided life of love, peace and harmony. The life of the God-realized is a pure blessing to all humanity.

Within this state of God-realization, God is known and experienced to be the only reality, and as there remains nothing further to know, one aspect of this divine consciousness is omniscience. Since God is experienced as being the only One without a second, having no rival to overcome and no limitations to transcend, the individualized soul realizes a second aspect of supreme consciousness to be omnipotence. Since God is also experienced as unconditional and spontaneous joy continually welling up within the soul, the third aspect of divine consciousness is realized to be unlimited bliss.

These attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and unlimited bliss are not divisible parts within infinity, but differentiated qualities of one indivisible infinity. Being indivisible, no one of them is in any way curtailed by another. Since they interpenetrate each other completely, none can or does exist without the others.

In God-consciousness, to know is to exist as blissful power; to exist as power is to know oneself as unbounded bliss; and to experience bliss is to be permeated by divine knowledge in which knower, known and knowledge are all one. Any existence in which power is limited, knowledge imperfect, or joy beclouded is a product of false imagination and cannot satisfy the earnest seeker after God.

Thus in the truth-consciousness of Haqiqat, God knows Himself as having infinite attributes, but He has no consciousness of the universe. In a few cases, consciousness of the universe returns to the God-realized soul without in any way obscuring the totality of His divine knowledge.
This first affirmation of God-consciousness in the universe may be said to constitute the first journey of complete divine knowledge, known as Baqaiyat.* Conscious now of the universe through the being of the Jivan-Mukta or Azad-e-Mutlaq or Baqa-billah, God does not regard it as other than Himself. Not only is His knowledge not handicapped by consciousness of the world; it (God's knowledge) uses the shadow (creation) which it has itself created as a medium through which it finds expression.

I this state of Baqaiyat, God not only knows himself as God but also as everything. He now experiences His own infinite attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and unbounded bliss also in and through the consciousness of the universe. God knows Himself as being everything, and everything as being Himself. His knowledge of Himself includes the knowledge of everything in illusion.

God enjoys the same infinite and unlimited attributes as in the first state of Haqiqat, but their expression within the illusion of duality is naturally determined by the earthly vehicle in which the individualized soul functions. The God-realized Jivan-Mukta, though living in a world of duality, is aware only of the unimpaired unity which sustains and pervades the universe. Such a one experiences constantly the love which knows no limitation through time, circumstance, or mood.

Though the Jivan-Mukta lives and functions in the world of duality, his consciousness dwells beneath the appearance of things in the underlying reality of his self (in God). In this manner such a soul creates no cleavage between the illusory and the real world, nor does being in the world constitute for him any limitation on the spontaneous flow of divine love. On the contrary, the world with all its dual aspects becomes the medium through which his infinite love operates automatically.

In this phase of realization* (*I.e. the Jivan-Mukta state. The soul has returned to consciousness of the world of duality, but the focus of consciousness of the Jivan-Mukta wanders between duality and God-absorbtion. See God Speaks, pp.171-172) the individual enjoys the limitless attributes of God but does not feel impelled to use them for the benefit of others. He has become fully conscious of his impersonal divinity which automatically permeates and controls all aspects of the universe, and therefore he does not feel moved to intervene in the affairs of the world.

Active interest in cosmic processes or activities of the illusory universe is possible only when the third journey from Baqaiyat to Qutubiyat, or Sadguru (Perfect Master) state is completed. In this state the fullness, of divine knowledge, power, and bliss is not only experienced completely, but is also dynamically expressed. Here the unlimited individuality of the Perfect Master participates fully in the life of the entire universe. In this state God not only knows Himself as God and lives as God, but works as God, coordinating the truth He has realized with the processes of the universe.

Thus, at the end of this third journey of divine consciousness, God takes active interest in the spiritual yearnings of other souls, and extends His help in their onward ascent. In this state as the Perfect Master, He is no longer detached from the happenings of the world, and the cosmic processes and events of the world are no longer left solely to the direction of impersonal divinity. God Himself has become a person who is simultaneously fully divine and fully human, and He takes under His personal and conscious supervision the groping, struggling life streams within the universe. The Qutubiyat- or Sadguru-state (Perfect Masterhood) is truly a state of personal Godhood.

His omniscience and unlimited love impel the Qutub or Sadguru to use his unlimited power freely for the spiritual benefit of all who deserve his grace. He goes halfway to meet aspiring souls and he accentuates their progress, communicating to them his boundless, overflowing love to the extent that they are capable of receiving it. This is a state in which God offers Himself to himself in measureless abundance, in and through the universe of duality.

Throughout his expression of personal interest in the life of the universe, the Sadguru never becomes entangled in duality. He is never bound in any way to the world of form in which he is expressing his dynamic and unlimited personality. When his divine game in the world of form is over he drops the link to his own bodies—physical, subtle, and mental, and with the universe—without sense of loss or pain. He withdraws from the scene of his divinely expressed life in illusion and draws to a close his creative manifestation in the universe.

Withdrawal from participation in the universe of duality does not in any way impair his consciousness of divine knowledge, nor his conscious, constant and unbreakable experience of infinite power and bliss. He continues to remain conscious reality. Activity in the world constituted on action in an illusory universe. Withdrawal from it is only withdrawal from the unreal, through which he chose to manifest for the liberation of those still in bondage, and is termed the fourth and last journey.

D.E. Stevens


The immersion of the individual in the routing of life causes him to be seriously disturbed by the sudden experience of death, particularly when it takes away someone who has been near and dear to him. When the sight of death becomes too frequent, as in time of war or during an epidemic, the individual's mind tends to protect itself by retiring within a shell of habit and routine. Familiar actions, faces, and surroundings, which require no thought or adjustment, become at such times a buttress to his emotional balance.

But even this wall of cultivated indifference crumbles when the hand of death snatches away someone who has entered deeply into his inner life—someone who perhaps acted as a pivotal point upon which his emotions turned. At such a time his unquestioning attitude towards life is disturbed and his mind becomes deeply preoccupied with an intensive search for lasting values.
The life of each person is deeply enmeshed in this mystery of death. But it is a mystery which accents thought instead of dulling it, for if anything makes a man think intensely about the true nature of life, it is the recurrent theme of death.

As the tale of life is told it pauses frequently to contemplate the gaping holes left by death. There is no way to avoid the thought provoking impact of that inescapable presence.
Although none escapes the intensive search for the hidden secret to the meaning of death, few can lift the veil and unravel the mystery. For most it remains a soul-searching enigma which causes deep restlessness; for some it offers a wide field for imaginative speculation; for the few, it yields its secret.

Many refuse to accept death as the simple, final extinction of the individual, but this reaction is more often a form of unreasoned wish than a matter of unshakable conviction. Even so, this instinctive rebellion should not be lightly dismissed, for much of the vigor of this
blind protest against the seeming fact of death springs from an obscure but still functioning intuition. However, this intuitive reaction does not approach the more secure position achieved through reasoned belief based on faith in the authority of a seer, or on the direct perception of those who know.

When a sensitive individual is first faced by a death of deep significance in his circle of close friends, he is usually struck by the transitory nature of all forms of life. Confronted by the undeniable impermanence of the body, yet unfortified by knowledge of some sustaining permanent principle, he often falls into a mood of deep despair or supercilious cynicism.
If life is inexorably doomed to extinction, he reasons, there can be little meaning in the frantic efforts to achieve. In turn, this thought leaves him in a vacuum of purpose which may lead him either to a state of supine inaction, or may precipitate him into reckless rebellion. To him, existence seems to be conditional, intermittent and vanishing, while extinction appears to be unqualified, inescapable, and permanent.

When such a grim conclusion has been reached, whether consciously or unconsciously, the individual is tempted to rain death and destruction upon others, or to invite it upon himself, merely because death appears to be more lasting than life. The recklessly destructive desperado and the determined suicide belong to this type. They cannot accept life as having any real value, because their initial, unthinking faith in the value of life has been uprooted by the rude shock of death.

If death is accepted as real, and longer in duration than life, then life is degraded below meaninglessness. Even then, such values in life as truth, beauty, goodness, and love can claim some intrinsic worth despite their fleeting existence. But in practical fact, all keenness for the pursuit of even these momentary values is gradually replaced by a sense of hopeless apathy, for one hears constantly a background whisper which says that they too are doomed to vanish one day.If the cat, while stealthily drinking milk, knows that someone is waiting outside their door with a club, she can hardly relish the flavor of her surreptitious meal. Similarly, a man who comes to know that all his achievements must soon be brought to naught, can hardly have his heart in his efforts. If he stops to reflect that all the people he loves are earmarked for early conversion to dust, then his spontaneous enthusiasm gradually dries up and he is forced to consider what he is striving for. If he tries to cling to those loved ones despite his new awareness; all the desperateness of his ensuing efforts becomes only a sacrifice to vanity.

In order to avoid the pain which he is bound to feel at the inevitable loss of his dear ones, he may try to avoid life by adopting the viewpoint that the living are no more than on a par with the dead. The success of such a game depends upon an exact equation, for if he holds the slightest preference for the living, he will be gravely affected when the living become the dead.

He is forced finally to face the fact that if death means the extinction of his beloved brothers in a blind vacuum of eternity, then the entire game of life is a meaningless tragedy. All courage, sacrifice, and loyalty to ideals become a farce, and all vital seeking takes on the cast of empty endeavor, of much effort without purpose. Fear of loss treads closely upon all earnest attempts to appropriate and inherit the significance of life, depriving it of all sweetness.

In short, if death is looked upon as mere extinction, man tends to lose his balance and is plunged into perpetual gloom. All his dreams of the enduring reality of truth, beauty, and love are refuted and seem by hindsight to have been a blind groping after illusion. His previous ideal of eternity and inexhaustible sweetness, instead of filling him with hope and enthusiasm, now reproaches him with the utter senselessness of all earthly values.

Thus death, when not understood, vitiates the whole of life, and the first impulsive answer of inaction or cynicism, which the individual usually forges to meet the question, strands him in a thoroughly desiccated universe of unrelieved weariness. Nevertheless, this gradually prepares him for another attempt to find a more vital answer to the inescapable query.

The human mind cannot endure such a stalemate for long, as there is an internal force which insists that the inner nature be in motion. Eventually the pressure for such motion breaks through the rigidity of such a negative concept of death. A great flood of new interrogation
and discovery often breaks out, and in it the key question now posed by death becomes "What is life?" The answers supplied are countless, and depend upon the passing moods which spring from the deeply rooted ignorance of the interrogator. The first instinctive answer is "Life is that which is terminated by death". The answer is still completely inadequate, as it involves no positive principle on which a fruitful life can be based, nor can the individual's need for development be met. Such an answer explains neither death nor life. The individual is driven to try to understand life and death along new lines.

Instead of looking upon death as the opposite of life, he now inevitably comes to look upon it as the handmaiden of life.He begins to affirm intuitively the reality and eternality of life. Instead of interpreting life in terms of death, man seeks to interpret death in terms of life. Slowly, event by event, he learns to take life again in all earnestness, with a deeper affirming consciousness. As he does so, he is able to give a more constructive response to the recurring sight of death. The challenge of death is now not only accepted and absorbed by life, but is met by a counter-challenge: "What is death?" It is now death's turn to submit itself to critical scrutiny.
The most unsophisticated answer to this counter-question is "Death is only an incident in life". This simple and profoundly true declaration terminated the unendurable chaos precipitated by regarding death as the extinction of life. Soon it is clearly seen that it is futile to try to understand death without first understanding life.

As consciousness gradually settles into this balanced approach to the problem, it takes on a healthy tone which makes it receptive to the truth concerning both life and death. Direct, undimmed knowledge of such truth is available only to spiritually advanced souls. The seers of all time have had direct access to the truth about life and death, and they have repeatedly given a suffering and groping humanity useful information on this point.
Their explanations are important because they protect man's mind from erroneous and harmful attitudes towards life and death, and prepare him for perception of the truth. Although direct knowledge of truth requires considerable spiritual perception, nevertheless even correct intellectual understanding of the relationships of life and death plays an important part in restoring mankind to a healthy outlook.

Above incarnate life in birth and beyond discarnate life after death, the soul is one indivisible, eternal existence. The gestation of individualization of the soul begins with the evolution of its consciousness. Consciousness begins to evolve in incarnate life, and its evolution becomes complete only in incarnate life.Simultaneous with the evolution of consciousness through the evolution of forms (bodies), sanskaras* begin to accumulate. The evolution of form and consciousness (and with it individualization of the human ego-mind) is complete when the soul attains the human soul for the first time. But because of the accumulated sanskaras, the fully evolved consciousness of the soul remains entrapped in illusion and therefore is not directed towards the soul's self-realization (God-realization).

For self-realization, all sanskaras must be completely wiped out to enable the soul, as the individualized ego, to be transmuted into the individualized soul in the conscious state of God. Further, the sanskaras that began to accumulate in an incarnate life have to be wiped out in an incarnate life. In order to be wiped out in toto, sanskaras must be annulled or cancelled through the process of exact-equalization or perfect qualitative and quantitative balancing of all opposite sanskaras, whether good or bad. This is extremely difficult, for the sanskaras have a natural tendency towards preponderance of one opposite over the other.

While the unbalance of the opposite sanskaras reaches its maximum in an incarnate life, near balancing is achieved after death during a period of discarnate life, through the intense subjective pleasure or suffering in the states known as heaven and hell. Each incarnate life is an opportunity for the realization of one's true self. Each death or discarnate life is an opportunity for achieving a semblance of balance to start another birth, with its further chance at self-realization. If the opportunity were fully taken, one incarnate life could be sufficient to make the individual realize this goal; but it is well-nigh impossible to attain the initiative and longing to do so without getting involved in the illusory maze of innumerable opposite experiences. The contact of a Perfect Master is invaluable in calling a halt to the dizzy gyrations of incarnate and discarnate lives in illusion, and awakening the individual to the real knowledge of self.

From the psychological point of view, death entails no slightest curtailment of individual existence. This does not mean that the surviving mind remains unaffected by the kind of death which severed the individual from the body. Both the condition of the mind as well as its capability to progress further in the life-after-death are often substantially determined by the conditions surrounding the death.

From the standpoint of its psychic after-effects, death can be classified into three broad types, (1) normal, (2) abnormal, and (3) supernormal. Normal death follows an illness which ultimately renders the physiological functioning of the body impossible. Generally it involves some sort of warning to the individual, for, if the illness is severe, he often anticipates that death is at hand. Although by no means true of all deaths caused by illness, when the individual has some anticipation of impending death he usually has a chance to tie up loose ends and prepare his mind for this new crisis.

The second or abnormal type of death is that which results from accidents, murder, war, and suicide. In accidents and murder there is generally no anticipation of impending death. Being unexpected, death involves in such instances a shock which can shatter the very roots of the sanskaras seeking expression through the physical incarnation of the individual.
In unanticipated accidental death, the ordinary ego-mind has a moderate tendency to gravitate towards the gross sphere and cling to it because of the ego-mind's attachment to the gross world.
In anticipated (abnormal) death, when resulting from murder or war, the ego-mind can become bound to the gross world by the chains of unfulfilled revenge. There is less tendency for such binding to occur in death due to war, than in that resulting from murder. In war the combatants on both sides are often impersonal in their actions, and aware that they are fighting for some cause, rather than through personal enmity. If this awareness is clear and steady, death in war does not yield the mental reaction of revenge.

Among abnormal kinds of death, suicide deserves special attention. Suicide may be divided into four grades, (1) lowest, (2) low, (3) high, and (4) highest.

The lowest type is a last measure in escaping punishment or ignominy or utter frustration after the individual has tried unscrupulously to satisfy his own selfish desires. Thus one who has committed murder for lust or power may commit suicide when he is caught. Even after leaving the body, such a person does not succeed in severing his link with the gross world for hundreds of years. These individuals live literally as ghosts in the semi-subtle sphere, which lies between the gross and subtle world. They experience agonizing suffering because of their unfulfilled desires. Due to the link which they preserve with the gross world, they continue to desire various gross objects keenly, a desire which can never be fulfilled. This suffering is even more acute than the intense sufferings in the hell-state* that the individual experiences after he severs his connection with the gross world.

A somewhat less acute class of suffering in imagination is experienced in the hell-state by suicides who have been slightly better motivated, but who are still classified as "low". In this group are those motivated by sheer disgust with life. Thus a person suffering from bad health, or stricken by a loathsome disease, or one who is poverty stricken and ashamed of being a burden on others, might put an end to his life through lack of will to live.

Since the cause of such a suicide is revulsion from earthly life, the ego-mind does not continue to maintain any enduring link with the gross world beyond the normal three or four days following death. After that normal period, the link is snapped and the ego-mind then begins to experience the intense suffering of its bad sanskaras, usually termed the hell-state.Although a ghost caught in the semi-subtle sphere suffers even more acutely than does the ego-mind "experiencing" the hell-state, the latter achieves some exhaustion of evil sanskaras while the former does not. Further, the sufferings of the ghosts who maintain their link with the earthly life are more tantalizing, because the link constantly holds before them the prospect of fulfillment of gross desires, without actual means for their satisfaction.

The general belief that suicide is bad is due to the fact that it is usually the result of low motives or a cowardly attitude towards life. When suicide is employed as an escape from dilemmas brought on by failure to cope with the needs of life, it is not only ignoble, but far-reaching as well in its demoralizing effects upon the victim.

The third or high type of suicide is in no way rooted in inferior motives and is therefore free of their deteriorating effects. It is inspired by altruistic motives alone and is a sacrifice made to secure the material or spiritual well-being of others. One who meets death through, e. g. a hunger strike, in order to better the welfare of the masses, is a suicide of this high type.
The motives of such a suicide are not far different from those of martyrs who lay down their lives on the battlefield for country, society, or religion. The total absence of base motives in this high type of suicide makes it entirely different from the lower grades. As in other noble acts of self-effacement, such highly motivated action entitles the departed individual to the privileges and pleasures of the heavenly state, and also constitutes a definite asset in his spiritual ongoing.
A suicide inspired by ordinary altruistic motives is not the highest type. The fourth or highest class results from intense desire to see God or to unite with Him; this is an extremely rare occurrence. In most cases in which suicide is believed to have been committed for the sake of God, there is an admixture of other motivating factors, such as dissatisfaction with the conditions of earthly life.

If and when suicide is embraced purely for the sake of attaining God, it can have the effect of achieving liberation, or Mukti. The masters have always warned aspirants against resorting to suicide in the intensity of their longing for union with God, for there is too great room for self-deception and inadvertent admixture of inferior unconscious motivation.

Regardless of the abnormality of the circumstances which may lie back of it, no type of death can really damn the individual forever. It is never more than an incident in his long spiritual journey.
The third or supernormal type of death consists in leaving the body voluntarily. This is done by the advanced yogis who wind up their earthly careers after fulfilling their mission, much as the student locks up his textbooks after passing his examination. The supernormal or voluntary death of the advanced yogi is definitely anticipated and willed, but is entirely different from suicide insofar as motives, results and manner of leaving the body are concerned.
Friends and relatives of a departed one often are seriously upset by his death, because dissolution of the form may seem to them to be the extinction of life itself. All of their attachments had been related to the form. It was because of the form that they had contact with the soul, and it was through the form that their various physical and emotional needs were fulfilled. The disappearance of the body that had acted as the vehicle of the soul is therefore often interpreted by them as the annihilation of the individual himself.
From the purely physical point of view, death does not involve annihilation of even the body, but physiologically it has become unfit to be the continued dwelling place of the spirit, and has therefore lost all importance.

From the point of view of the individualized soul as mind, death does not involve any loss whatsoever, as the mind and all its sanskaras remain intact. The individual in essence is thus in no way different. He has only cast off his external coat. Nevertheless this severance from the physical body is fraught with two important consequences. It is a means of introducing the individual to a new type of existence, and it is also in itself an incident of the utmost importance because of side effects of the greatest practical consequence.

When others die, the individual loses only one or at most a few friends who have played and important role in his earthly existence. But when he dies he loses at one stroke all the persons who had entered intimately into his own life. He also loses all his possessions and is broken away from the achievements on which he had built the very foundations of his sense of accomplishment in life.

As the crowning touch, he must also leave behind the very physical body with which he had identified himself so completely that he was rarely capable of imagining himself as anything but that physical body. This complete annihilation of the entire structure of the individual's earthly existence is therefore a crisis without parallel in his life.

This critical turning point, which occurs at death, is attended by both advantages and disadvantages. The greatest disadvantage lies in the fact that the individual must leave incomplete all the undertakings of his earthly life; he must leave the entire chessboard without taking any further interest in it. The scene of his life is blotted out and the chain of his mundane interests is hacked apart.

From the standpoint of objective achievement, the continuity of his undertaking has undergone an abrupt break. Advancement of the projects he has left behind must come from his previous associates, and can no longer be his concern. It is rare for the individual to be drawn back through a sanskaric linking to the identical task which he had begun in a past incarnation, to develop it on from the point where his successors had left it.

It would be a mistake to think that death brings nothing but disadvantages. Death also brings about a general weakening of attachments by shattering all the sanskaras which were fed by the earthly objects, because the mind is now torn away from them. While it is true that many of the sadhanas * undertaken by the individual during earthly life have the effect of unwinding previous sanskaras, still it is only in extremely rare instances that he succeeds in completely erasing the present and future effects of these sanskaras. This erasure is effected within certain well-defined limits by the sudden transplanting of the individual that occurs at death.
If the lessons inherent in a single death were to be thoroughly assimilated by the individual, he would benefit by the equivalent of several lifetimes of patient spiritual effort. Unfortunately this does not happen in most cases, because after death the individual usually tries to revive his accumulated sanskaras. Through these revived sanskaras he recaptures the experiences through which he has already lived. The period immediately following death usually becomes therefore an occasion for the repetition of all that has previously been lived through, rather than a period of emancipation through understanding all that has been lived out.

Regardless of these shortcomings, death does give a severe shaking to the tree of sanskaras—root, trunk, and branch—and this impels the mind to revise its attitude towards the objective universe. Death also facilitates a certain amount of disentanglement from the attractive world of form. The individual is never able to go back to earth without some modification of his approach to life.

Life in a new physical body must conform to these lines determined by the individual's sanskaras. Thus there is often a close resemblance to the past life on earth, but it is not a literal repetition of the past. It is a new experiment.

This readjustment of outlook, which is facilitated by the abrupt reorientation involved in death, is particularly helpful when it occurs after spiritual aspiration has been awakened in the individual. In such cases the loosening of all attachment which occurs at death is very conducive to the further flowering of spiritual aspiration. The aspirant now has a chance under fresh circumstances to remodel the entire pattern of his life in line with his spiritual aspirations.
Because of these special opportunities which death offers, the aspirant does not regret his own death. For him, death is not a cloud without its silver lining. The Perfect Master Jalalu'l-Din Rumi has said that he always progressed through frequent deaths. But this cannot justify anyone, and even less a spiritual aspirant, in seeking death for its own sake. To seek death in this manner is to put a false premium upon it. Such seeking of death springs from fear of life and from failure to cope with it, and inevitably must defeat its own purpose.

If death has any value, it is to teach the individual the true art of life. It would be wrong for the aspirant to seek death with the hope of making further progress thereby. On the other hand he should not fear death when it overtakes him. A true aspirant neither seeks death nor fears it, and when death comes to him he converts it into a stepping stone to the higher life. Some people are particularly afraid of the exact moment of death because they anticipate unbearable pain at that instant. In reality, all physical suffering experienced during illness or just before death terminates at the moment of death. The process of the actual dropping of the body is quite painless, contrary to the superstition that a person experiences indescribable agonies in death.
However the severing of the individual's emotional entanglement in the gross world is not found to be easy. The various religious rites observed after a death have primarily the purpose of helping the departing individual disentangle himself from these ties.

For instance, the repetition of the name of God or of scriptures, often practiced after the death of a person, has a wholesome effect both on those who have been left behind as well as on the one who has passed away, because they help to free both parties of their mutual sanskaric attachment to form. On the other hand the lamentation and wailing that is often observed has a degrading and depressing effect both on those left behind as well as the person who has passed away, for it tends to strengthen mutual attachment to form.

The thought or wish the dying individual holds at the moment of death has special importance in determining his future destiny. If the last thought is of God or the master, the individual achieves liberation.It is quite common for an individual not to have any specific thought at the moment of death. Even if he has had thoughts or wishes before death, he will tend to forget them at the time of death. At that moment some people hope they may not return to earthly life, but they are not exempted from rebirth by mere wishing. They are reborn, but exhibit a pronounced disgust for life, and tend to lead the lives of ascetics or recluses.
If the good* and evil sanskaras of the individual are almost balanced at the time of death, he may take on a new physical body almost immediately. He may even enter a new incarnation as early as the fourth day after death. In such urgent cases of rebirth the individual can enliven a ready fetus any time between the sixth and seventh month of embryological development. It is important to note that both father and mother give only prana or vital energy to the fetus. In addition to receiving prana it must be enlivened by some individualized soul. Ordinarily this takes place during the later stages of embryological development.

When the individual is ready for reincarnation he is automatically drawn to his future parents by sanskaric links. The parents act as a magnet due to their previous connections with the reincarnating individual. Occasionally the strongest sanskaric or karmic link which the reincarnating individual has with incarnate individuals is not with the parents, but with a brother or sister. It is this link, then, that determines the family in which he takes birth.

In times of emergency, as in wars or epidemics, when thousands of individuals may seek immediate reincarnation, it is not always possible for all to be born into families having strong previous links with them. But if the sanskaric status of the individual is precipitating him toward incarnation, his taking on of a body is not postponed merely because parents are not available to provide a suitable previous link. It is possible through the intervention of the Masters to make infinite adjustments through mutual exchanges.

Death is like throwing away clothes which have become useless through wear and tear. Just as a traveler may stop at different places, and at each halt may change clothes according to his needs, so the individual goes on changing his bodies according to the needs of his sanskaras.
Death may also be compared to sleep. When a man goes to sleep, he wakes up in the same physical body. When he drops his physical body at death, he wakes up in another physical body.
For most persons the period between death and birth is one of absorption in subjectivity. As mentioned before, after death the ego-mind of the individual normally retains its tie with the remnants of the physical body for three or four days. After this period the connection is completely severed and the individual then exists entirely in the subjectivity of his mental states. This subjective phase is brought about by the resurrection of all the sanskaras which the ego-mind has brought along with it after death.

The sudden transplanting of the ego-mind from one sphere to another does wear out the scars of the sanskaras to some extent, but for the greater part they remain intact. If death had resulted in the complete wiping out of all the sanskaric scars on the mind it would have resulted in emancipation of the individual from all limitation. But this does not happen. Not only are the sanskaric imprints retained after death, but they may unroll unhampered in the life after death.
As the sanskaric sheet is unwound, the individual experiences in the hell- or heaven-state the sufferings or pleasures embodied in the bad or good sanskaras. Every individual has both classes in his store, and his mental state in the life after death is determined by which one of these preponderates.

The intensity of the sufferings or pleasures which the individual experiences through these revived sanskaras is so great that a greater exhaustion of these sanskaras is brought about during a relatively short period than is possible in hundreds of years of suffering or pleasure in the earthly life. It is these posthumous mental states of intense suffering and pleasure which are respectively known in religious literature as hell and heaven. In popular belief they are incorrectly regarded as places or spheres. It is more appropriate to peak of a hell-state or heaven-state, rather than places.

When there is a preponderance of evil sanskaras at death, the individual gradually exhausts the bad sanskaras through suffering in the hell-state. The result is that the evil sanskaras eventually tend to strike a balance with the good sanskaras. It is as if a huge block of ice were placed on one pan of a balance, causing it to sink because of its excess over a smaller weight contained on the counterbalance pan. As the great block of ice is gradually melted and the water spills, there is a tendency for the two pans to come into balance Similarly, as the mass of evil sanskaras become attenuated through suffering, their preponderance begins to vanish and they almost come into balance with the good sanskaras. This moment, when the two opposite types of sanskaras are almost in a state of balance, is the moment when the after life of the individual terminates and he finds himself precipitating into a new physical incarnation on earth. He is precipitated into a new physical body because no further purpose is served by continuation of his subjective absorption in the discarnate life. He is ripe to accumulate fresh experience in another gross body, and for this purpose he must adopt a vehicle which is suitable for the working out of his unexhausted sanskaras.

If the individual soul has been exhausting an excess of evil sanskaras and has therefore been undergoing a hell-state, he may jump into a new incarnation in which good sanskaras tend to dominate. The cause of this unexpected reversal is to be found in the strength of flow of the sanskaric currents. At the time he incarnates, the individual has already been relieved of the excess of his evil sanskaras, and the strong tide of his good sanskaras was about to predominate. Consequently it is the vigorous current of the good sanskaras which motivates him in his new incarnation. Thus a man who had been a profligate in his last life might begin his new incarnation with a marked inclination towards asceticism.

Conversely, a swing over can occur from good to bad when one jumps into an incarnation from a heaven-state in which the preponderance of good sanskaras had been exhausted through intense imaginative pleasure. The moment of incarnation into a new physical body is precipitated when the good and bad sanskaras have almost balanced each other and the tide of bad sanskaras is about to predominate.

A change over at incarnation from good to bad or from bad to good should not be taken as a universal law. Reversal of individual nature is frequent, but cases are also quite common in which the individual remains persistently good or bad for several incarnations. In such cases incarnation occurs before the opposite type of sanskara has built up a sufficient current of flow to result in its predominance.

The beginning of the true existence of the individual self* occurs at the moment when consciousness in the course of its evolution adopts its first human form. This also represents the terminal step in its evolutionary development. This is the moment when the limited individuality is crystallized as the "I" that exhibits the basic characteristics of "self-consciousness". This is the true birth of the individual.

The true death of the individual occurs at the moment when he transcends his limited individuality or separative consciousness by being taken up in the truth-consciousness of the unlimited and undivided being of God. The true death of the individual consists in the complete disappearance of the limiting ego-mind that has created the sanskaric veil of ignorance. True death is a far more difficult process than physical death, but when it occurs through the grace of the master it takes no longer than the twinkling of an eye. This dissolution of the ego-mind and the freeing of the soul from the illusion of separative limited individuality are known as liberation.

The sanskaric-ridden ego-mind can never attain any real poise. It vacillates in constant rhythm to the alternating dominant sanskaras. Consciousness can attain true poise only when the ego-mind with all its attendant sanskaras terminates. This is effected through the emergence of the unlimited and ultra-sanskaric individuality that comes into its own upon the inheriting of consciousness, eternal existence, which is true immortality.

The infinite poise of consciousness in realization should not be confused with the semblance of sanskaric equilibration that is approached by the limited ego-mind in discarnate life in the hell- or heaven-state. Such ineffable poise is unapproachable by the full consciousness in man as long as it remains clouded by the slightest traces of the limiting ego-mind.

At the time of taking on a new physical body, the good and the bad sanskaras of the individual are almost in balance. However there is always a slight ascendance at this time of either the good or the bad sanskaras. They are never in perfect balance, nor do they in any manner overlap or cancel one another. Complete poise can exist only when the two opposite classes of sanskaras are so qualitatively and quantitatively opposed that they exactly cancel one another.

When opposite sanskaras are not only equal in strength but also are in exact qualitative opposition, they cancel each other and can no longer act as a semi-automatic subjective propelling forces, but are transmuted into consummate understanding that is free from opposing reactions to life. This is the state of liberation.

The seeming balance that is approximated by the individual before each birth may be compared to a tug-of-war in which opposite forces are active, although neither may predominate. The matching of forces then has only to be slightly disturbed and the entire situation becomes subject to change. In the same manner, the pseudo-poise of sanskaras present at the time of birth has only to be slightly disturbed in order to imprint the sanskaric pattern for the individual life.
In the state of realization the opposite types of sanskaras interpenetrate each other in such a manner that they cease to exist as opposing forces. The resultant is not a state of sanskaric tension, but a state of complete internal neutralization in which the sanskaras have ceased to exist as propulsive elements. This is not a mere state of exact mathematical equalization of opposites, but a state beyond the opposites—of true poise rooted in unbroken consciousness of infinite unity.

During the long period preceding realization, the mind acts in each single circumstance according to the dictates of the preponderant sanskaras. As in a tug-of-war, there is movement in the direction of greater pull, but that motion represents only a small portion of the total energy spent, for most of it was used up in the opposition of forces.

In realization there is an entire disappearance or cancellation of the sanskaras such as would occur in a tug-of-war when the opposing parties finished the game and stopped pulling in opposite directions. On the other hand, in near equalization of sanskaric tension there is only a temporary arrest of express activity. Then, when some new or outside factor upsets this equilibrium, reactions occur which show that the situation had been quiet not because of lack of propelling forces, but rather because they had temporarily cancelled one another.*

However, eventually those balancing forces will shift, and once more the situation will seem to fly out of control. This is usually very discouraging because the sequence may be repeated several times without apparent improvement. The individual then often asks himself why he should continue to try, as he never seems to find a lasting solution to his problems.

But the poise originally established was due only to a happy combination of forces (sanskaras) that almost cancelled each other. Final release comes as the basic motivating forces are dissolved and reabsorbed in the process of ultimate realization.

This may seem a discouragingly remote solution to the pressing problem of the moment, but in such a final solution the answer is complete and the poise absolute, because the forces themselves have been annihilated and lost. With the annulment of the sanskaras, the individual is freed permanently from all sanskaric determination. As a consequence, for the first time the individual's life can express itself without latent or patent inhibitions, for it functions in the limitless understanding of truth.

This true poise of realization, which admits no further possibility of disturbance through resurrection of any limiting tendencies, can only be obtained while the individual has a physical body. It can never come through the speeding up processes of one-sided sanskaric exhaustion that takes place in the hell-state or heaven-state. This is the all-important reason why every individual has to come back to the gross world again and again in physical incarnation, until self-realization is attained.

Alternating links of the continuous chain of individual existence consist of incarnate and discarnate lives, forged from periods of birth to death and death to birth. Only in God-realization can life be freed from the shackles of limited individuality. Only in God-realization does the tenacious chain of recurrent incarnations reach final fulfillment and termination. It is a state of eternal existence, free from birth or death. It is true immortality or deathlessness, by virtue of the fact that it is above the birth and the death of the body.

True immortality is not the survival of the limited individual in the period following the death of the physical body. It is true that the ego-mind persists unscathed through death, but the individual cannot and does not thereupon attain to final freedom from birth and death. Survival should not be confused with deathlessness—which is true immortality. The chain of alternating incarnate and discarnate life is only a survival of consciousness plus ignorance, and ignorance makes true life impossible.

Life in ignorance is the very negation of existence in truth. It is so basic a curtailment of true existence that, when judged by the standards of true existence in eternity, it had best be termed a continuous death. Only in realization is consciousness emancipated from the tyranny of this continuous death which nullifies the true life in eternity. And only in liberation can consciousness arrive at that true immortality which lies beyond all curtailment and obscurity.
The individual who has achieved realization of the truth is initiated into eternal and unlimited life, for the limiting ego-mind with all its attendant sanskaras has undergone a death that is final. In this process the limited individuality is shed and the soul is invested with unlimited, divine individuality. This may be termed a journey of the soul, but it is by no means the first journey.
The first journey consisted in the evolving of consciousness through the evolutionary process, starting in the most rudimentary sub-gaseous forms and ending in the attainment of full consciousness in the human form. This journey extends from the initial attainment of consciousness by the individual soul to birth of the limited human individuality, in which full consciousness has been achieved, but a consciousness still clouded, and ridden with sanskaras.
The second journey of the soul consists in the involution of the now fully evolved consciousness through the removal of clouds of sanskaras. The removal requires the effort of numberless lifetimes and lasts from the birth of the limited human individuality to its termination in the unlimited truth. This second journey brings the individual to the unlimited and untrammeled state of infinite existence or immortality and is considered in great detail in Chapter VI. The terminus of this journey is known in Sufi literature as Fana-fillah, the final annihilation of the limited ego in the conscious state of God.

At the end of the first journey, the soul becomes conscious of maya, or the illusion of duality. This domain of maya has only imaginary existence. The entire universe thus in reality is only a zero, but this zero exists for the fully evolved consciousness of the individual human being.
Maya gives to the life of the individual all the meaning that it has, and the imaginary universe of maya continues to have a semblance of reality and significance until the wayfarer arrives at the terminus of the second journey, or Fana-fillah.

In the state of Fana-fillah the universe disappears and has neither existence nor value. This is the true and final terminus point of the great journey. It is reached when the ego-mind has met its total and final death, from which no resurrection is possible. Then only God exists as the supreme and sole reality, and the universe has become a true zero without existence even in imagination.

At this terminus the individual's consciousness is endowed with divine individuality and he is known as a Majzoob-e-kamil. At the time of the extinction of the ego-mind (or limited individuality) and the conscious union of the soul in the Over-soul, consciousness is withdrawn completely from the physical, subtle and mental bodies and these are usually dropped within four days. When the Majzoob's body, which for him does not exist, does actually drop, it is sustained by the devotees or "lovers" who have been attached to him through that body.
When the Majzoob was a wayfarer during the second journey he may have had several friends who loved him and expected spiritual guidance from him. The sanskaric links thus formed by such friends to the physical body of the wayfarer now cause the body of the Majzoob to go on living, even though he is no longer linked in any way with it.

The Bhaktas or devotees of the Majzoob provide sustenance for his physical body, which keeps on functioning automatically, and by their link with it the devotees derive much spiritual benefit. But all this activity of the body is completely automatic and involves no conscious interest on the part of the Majzoob. After the purpose of the sanskaric link formed by the Bhaktas to the physical form of the Majzoob has been fulfilled, the body of the Majzoob ceases functioning and is dropped.

When the body of one who has arrived at unlimited truth is automatically dropped at the end of four days, or is dropped after its link to the devotees has been fulfilled, the event can be properly termed neither death nor a journey. It cannot be said to be death, because at the time the body is dropped it has no connection with the consciousness of the person who was once attached to it. The link with the soul has already been snapped and the body continues only on the universal flow of divine benevolence. Death is a severance of the connection between consciousness and the physical body, and since in the two cases just described the body retains no connection with consciousness, They are not properly cases of death.

Nor is it at all suitable to call such deaths "journeys of the consciousness", for the dropping of the physical body makes no difference to the consciousness that was once attached to it. With or without the body, Consciousness remains what it had become upon the complete vanishing of separative individuality: abidingly illumined and infinitely absorbed in truth.

If, as occurs in rare cases, truth-realized consciousness returns to normal consciousness of the body and of the universe (without diminution or curtailment of realization), this event is properly described as the third journey. This third journey is undertaken only by the Perfect Master (Sadgurus, Qutubs) who, upon returning to consciousness of body and universe, establish their divine and unlimited individuality in the apparent world of duality. This state of affirmation of unbounded truth in and through the universe of maya is known in Sufi terminology as Baqa-billah, or abiding simultaneously in God and in illusion.

The apparent universe now has existence for the divine individuality, but at this terminus of the third journey the universe is realized as being nothing and having absolutely no value. The only thing that has real value is God, and the Sadguru sees that the entire universe has no reality in itself and exists only as the apparent manifestation of God.

If zeros are placed after the number one (e.g. 100000), each zero assumes value not because it has value in itself, but because it is placed after the number one. In the maya-ridden state, the relative status of the zeros and the number one are not realized. The two are confused together so that the zeros which constitute the physical universe are taken to have both existence and value in themselves.

In the Fana-fillah state of truth-absorption, all the zeros of the entire universe that have been added on to the number one have been cut out. Only the one (e.g. 1ØØØØØ) exists.
In the Baqa or Sadguru state of truth-affirmation in the universe, all the zeros of the universe reappear, but they are placed from a mathematical standpoint before the number one (e.g. 000001). In this manner of reinstatement, the zeros have existence but no value, regardless of how many there are.

In this last case any increase in the number of zeros neither adds numerical value nor alters in any way the value of the number one. The value neither increases nor decreases.
A Perfect Master can perform any miracle. This does not involve any breaking of the law, because he is beyond the domain of maya and its laws. Among those who enjoy the Sadguru state, the Avatar has unique consciousness. The Sadguru experiences the state of "I am God and God is everything.", while the Avatar experiences the state of "I am God and I am everything." Man as God (i.e. Sadguru) sees God in everything, but God as man (i.e. Avatar) sees what God as God sees: Himself in everything. In fact the Avatar not only sees himself in everything but sees Himself as everything; not only as being in the many, but as being the many in exactly the same manner that He is the One.

When the Avatar or the Sadguru drops his body after finishing his spiritual task in the imaginary universe of duality, he retains the God-consciousness that is his continuous eternal state. This fourth and last journey of the Avatar and Perfect Masters is the same as the second journey of the Majzoob-e-kamil. Their unlimited individualities suffer no extinction in spite of the fact that they are now removed entirely beyond the world of forms. Their individualities persist because their divine unlimited consciousness abidingly remains as the very inalienable nature of the soul, which requires no form for its locus standing.

Sanskaras or the sanskaric ego-mind can subsist only by attaching itself to some form, but no expressive medium of form is in any way necessary for the existence of divine consciousness. This, the very nature of the soul, is self-sustained. The dropping of the physical body by the Avatar or by the Sadguru is not death, for even while he uses the body he is in no way attached to it and has no sanskaric link with it. Nor does the dropping of the body in these instances involve the usual survival of a limited individuality or ego-mind, for these are simply non-existent in the Sadguru and the Avatar.

Their dropping of the body also differs from the death of advanced yogis who may voluntarily drop their physical bodies after completing their work. The advanced yogis cannot discard their ego-mind or limited individuality, which clings fast to them even after severance of their connection with the physical body, but the Majzoob-e-kamil, the Sadguru and the Avatar embark upon a unique and direct "journey" to the unbounded and indivisible ocean of divinity.

By Meher Baba, from the book 'LISTEN, HUMANITY', NARRATED AND EDITED by

D.E. Stevens