Showing posts with label creation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label creation. Show all posts

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Did God Create the World? Or, Did God Become the World?

Did God Create the World? Or, Did God Become the World?

For Ananda members worldwide who share the weekly readings from our founder’s book, “Rays of the One Light,**” we begin each year with Vedic teachings on how the world (universe) was made. (**Written by Swami Kriyananda) 

Paramhansa Yogananda came from India to the west and spoke of God becoming the world rather than merely “making” it as if He went out procured the basic materials from somewhere or something outside Himself. From the standpoint of sheer logic, it makes somewhat more sense, that God would create from within and through his own consciousness. But how? “How can something have come out of nothing?”

If God is pure Consciousness, how can consciousness produce material objects? Well, let us pause to ask, “How do I create things?” Isn’t it something like this: an idea comes to us (from nowhere, right?). We like the idea and begin to chew on it, often enthusiastically. We think about how to bring this idea into manifestation. We think about shape, materials, color, location, even the financial funding.

Our ideas have the benefit of hardware stores and other ways of procuring the materials needed to manifest our ideas. But God didn’t have this benefit. So, let’s keep exploring.

If God is Consciousness then perhaps the ultimate reality of the universe is a virtual reality. Every night in sleep don’t we create a private universe, very real seeming to us? The only difference is that our dreams are personal to us. They vanish instantly upon waking. Maybe God is dreaming this reality show? Don’t characters in our dreams seem to behave independently of our interests? (Like monsters who chase us?) Ever see the movie, the Matrix? Ever read about scientists’ speculation about multi-verses or parallel realities? And what about the brave new world soon to appear: AI (artificial intelligence). Won’t AI call into question the very nature of consciousness?

You see we humans are exploring and expanding the possibilities of what reality is as science rapidly expands our mental horizons. In one century alone we went from maybe three galaxies to a postulated billions of galaxies.

This makes this God-fellow one mighty big dude! And that’s the point: He’s not a dude at all, at least not in the human sense, along the lines of mythological gods and goddesses, replete with bad moods and naughty deeds.

In splitting the atom and exploring distant galaxies we now routinely accept sources of energy so powerful they defy anything our senses can model. Why not just keep blowing up this energy thing until it is all but infinite? Nothing stopping us if we can imagine it!

The ancient teachings of India, and other traditions, use another explanation to extend the dream metaphor: duality. Known as “maya” or the Measurer and considered to be evil or at least duplicitous (in its impact on our personal consciousness), maya divides the world into opposites and thereby creates the illusion that cold is different than heat, and that men are different than women. By subdividing what would otherwise be perceived as a cosmic unity, we dash about trying to fix things to our liking and avoid things that we don’t like. That apple with the knowledge of good and evil may have appeared tasty but biting into it, scales fall from the eyes of Oneness into duality and all things were seen as different.

In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 2, Adam and Eve suddenly felt self-conscious about their nakedness whereas before they were not. The apple in the center of the garden, Yogananda taught, was the fruit of the tree of sex nerves. Central to the propagation and procreation of maya is sex force without which the cosmic illusion cannot continue. At puberty we bite the apple and encounter the alluring touch of sex temptation. Our childhood innocence is over and our lives begin to take their course into adulthood with more karma generated and more future lifetimes being needed.

The same maya or illusion is experienced nightly in our dreams as well, of course.  

Imagine that the characters in your dream believe that they are separate from the other characters, especially the biggest character in your dream: you! Next imagine that this fact pervades our daytime world as well. Maybe we imagine we are separate and that all the mountains, forests, planets, stars and all these things are real. 

And, being in the dream, they ARE real! It’s only when you wake up that you can say the dream is not real.

When in the dream we cannot pretend the dream isn’t real. We have to act as best we can IN the dream. Only when we awake will the dream vanish.

And what, then, constitutes, being “awake?” Is it the intellectual idea such as we are discussing? No, absolutely not! Freedom means to release our consciousness into the great consciousness of God. 

At present our consciousness is locked in the human body: in the tissues, senses, and the breath. Is there a way to unlock our consciousness?

Yes, of course: glad you asked! We must steadily re-direct our attention from the body (and ego) to the indwelling God consciousness at the heart of our own consciousness. God, in the self, is quiet and still. A reflection, in fact, of the God of Pure Bliss and Consciousness out of which this dream was manifested.

To achieve this, it can be a great help to train the breath and heart to be as still as possible. The heart pump ties the mind (consciousness) to the body and senses. But, as when we are sleeping (a state of partial relaxation of the consciousness away from the senses), we free the mind to soar beyond the human body. 

In meditation this happens intentionally and consciously whereas in sleep we are thrown into the dungeon of sub-consciousness where we have virtually no control of the dream.

Thus it is, to return to the question of “How did God create the universe,” we find that individuals with great powers of concentration can be transmitters of new and history-changing ideas and inventions. It is with their relative attunement to the creative power of God-consciousness that such people do what they do. And, so can you and me, each in our own sphere of karma and dharma.

It’s fun to create things. Even dreaming is enjoyable (usually). Writing stories, creating movies, symphonies, new inventions: creativity draws from the essence of the Blissful Spirit’s factory of creativity! Of course a good story will NEED a villain or it isn’t a very interesting and gripping story. But, let’s not move into the world of evil and suffering as that would take a book to discuss it. Maybe next time.

But now we have peeked under the mask of God’s matrix. Now, with God’s help, we can begin the Journey to Self-Realization. The great show of the universe is a dream of the Creator’s. If we re-direct our attention from our little self to the indwelling and omnipresent great Self of all, we will steadily march towards soul freedom.

Joy in Being!

Nayaswami Hriman

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Who will win the Super Bowl? God knows. Reflections on the Super Bowl Battle of Life

Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014:  Seattle SeaHawks against the Denver Broncos

The Divine Incarnation: the Avatara

Today we come to contemplate the great battle of life, between the people of the sea and the people of the mountains. The people of the sea are like hawks flying high and swooping low to snatch and harass their prey, the wild and bucking broncos who are of earth and mountains. The people of the sea are swift, flexible, and wise; the people of the mountain are hard, obstinate, and tough. Who will win?
Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita taught that we must take up arms and fight the battle of the Super Bowl of life. He taught that the owner of the game sent his son, the manager, as the brains behind the whole creation and that the son’s divine mother cheerleads and inspires the quarterback, God’s own prophet, to take the team to victory.

We live in an age of individualism. It’s every person for himself. All knowledge can found and accessed by anyone willing to make the effort. Social barriers, prejudices, glass ceilings: all impediments created by socially imposed rules have been dismantled or are under attack. Hierarchy, rulership, and leadership are looked upon with suspicion and disfavor. Cultures are in varying degrees embracing, fighting, or otherwise adapting to this new wave of consciousness that, so far as we know, has never occurred on a mass scale before in human history.

The freedom to do what we like and want is assumed and what we do is presumed to be our right until proven otherwise. That’s a revolution and a half, for sure.

And it isn’t wrong. But it can be misunderstood and abused, causing harm to oneself and others. It can foster selfishness, laziness, and narrow mindedness. Freedom can also inspire one to reach for the heights of one’s potential.

In former times, the imposition of social castes and taboos forced people to live within tight constraints of action and attitude. In this confinement, unnecessary desires and impulses were suppressed or redirected into the channels of one’s narrowly defined station in life. One could go deep into dharma or suffer greatly under the lash of adharma. The image of God projected in such times and out of such attitudes is not surprisingly one of King to his subjects; one of absolute ruler whose mandates were not questioned and were eternal and fixed. Religion in such circumstances is characterized by ritual, formal prayers, highly stylized music, and rigid forms of art. It is top-down and hierarchical. God as King delegates to others a portion of his absolute authority over his subjects. This is of course the priestly class who claimed sway even over kings and princes.

This rigidity of authority is fast crumbling and is rapidly being eroded by those in every walk of life as well as religion who want to take matters in their own hands. This is generally a positive step. The democratization of religion is called “spiritual but not religious.”

What we potentially lose in this new-found freedom to think and act for ourselves is the remembrance that “truth simply is.” Like the law of gravity, its existence does not depend upon our acknowledgement. It’s not just the laws of nature that exist outside our assent, but the moral laws that guide the unfoldment of our consciousness. After the twentieth century’s experimentation with the outside boundaries of behavior, we have seen a rise in conservatism which affirms traditional values.  Unfortunately with this affirmation has come all the trappings of hierarchy and dogma. Thus a great struggle is taking place in the world today: between earth and water, between rigidity and fluidity, between social rules and individual freedom.

The age of individualism is, however, unstoppable though its dark side of violence and selfishness will always result in a reactionary step backwards whenever the dark side threatens too greatly that status quo.

So we come, then, at last to today’s subject: Does God incarnate in human form?

Such a teaching has been with humanity as far back as one can determine. It is expressed literally but also indirectly, as in when God speaks to and through his human prophets. The teaching of God’s involvement in human history and human lives has always had a place in spirituality and religion.

Some religionists will say God “Himself” incarnates in human form. One obvious example would be the Christian teaching that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and that God, in creating the universe, manifests Himself as One in Three: the Trinity. Another would be the dogma that great prophets like Krishna are literal incarnations of the Hindu god, Vishnu, preserver of dharma and creation.

In the other direction we have Buddha and Mohammed being described only as human messengers. But in various sects of Buddhism we see the Buddha revered every bit as much as Jesus Christ or Krishna, even if the theology can get a little murky. Buddha, unlike Jesus or Krishna, made no overt claim of divinity. The thrust of the Buddha’s teaching is to emphasize self-effort, not dependency upon grace or higher powers.

But no matter how narrow or wide the slice of dogmatic pie may be, the intercession of God, divinity or truth into the affairs of human lives and history is an undeniable tenet of the world’s major religions and most of the lesser branches of spirituality.

Here at Ananda we are in the lineage that includes Krishna, Lord Rama, and many other great prophets of India. Our lineage includes Jesus Christ and a link-up between east and west. We sit squarely in the traditional teaching that God descends into human form. Well, perhaps not exactly that way!

Paramhansa Yogananda refined the teaching of the avatara (descent of God into human form) toward a middle path. He taught that the human incarnation of divinity occurs through an individual soul who, though many lives, has achieved Self-realization. In achieving the realization that he and all creation are but manifestations of the one and sole reality, God, such a one becomes a true “son” of the Infinite Spirit of God beyond all creation. In this distinction, a Jesus Christ, Buddha or Krishna is not a divinely created puppet who is almost non-human and more like an alien but is, instead, a soul like you and I. Not different in kind but in level of soul realization and Oneness with the Father.

On a sidebar, Yogananda also explained that the entire cosmos and creation is “avatara” in the sense that God didn’t make the universe like a carpenter who goes out to obtain building materials. God became the universe by vibrating His consciousness from its eternal rest in bliss. In doing so, he became triune because Bliss remains untouched (as God the Father) by creation; the vibration itself creates the illusion of separate objects and yet is God in vibration (as the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Aum, the Witness and the Word), while His intelligence and consciousness which remain immanent at the still heart and center of vibration constitute His reflection in creation as the “only-begotten son.”

This sidebar relates more to the cosmogony and cosmology of creation and isn’t directly related to the avatara as the savior and guru-preceptor.

But it relates in this way: we, as souls, as are as much “God” as the avatar and as the Trinity because nothing within or without creation is ever “wholly other.” All is God: God alone is the sole substance of reality.
But as a wave cannot claim to be the ocean, but can only claim to be a part of the ocean, so too neither the savior nor you or I, or any single and separate aspect of creation, can claim to “be God.” “He who says he is God, isn’t. He who says he isn’t, isn’t. He who knows, knows.”

And yet, Jesus did claim, as does Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, that he is “one with the Father.” When chastened for boasting, Jesus retorted that he knew of what he spoke but they did not. So, yes, claims are sometimes made by the avatar. And, unfortunately, so are such claims sometimes made by those who are not Self-realized.

The history of religion is as much about frauds and wanna bees as the real thing. Such is the human drama and the inherent illusionary nature of creation. When Jesus asked his disciples “Who do men say I am,” it was Peter who declared Jesus to be the “son of God.” Jesus remarked that Peter’s gnosis came not from outside himself but was erected on the “rock” of his soul intuition. It is through intuition, ultimately, that we know God: whether in human form or in the formless state of our own soul.

God cannot be proved. “Ishwar ashidhha.” And of course this is where religion and spirituality get sticky. But are the material sciences free from constant doubt and paradox? Hardly. Ultimately the verdict lies with each and every one of us to find our path and our way to the truth.

To ignore sources of wisdom in the name of going on alone or being free from false teachings and teachers is simply not possible for truth is One (though men call it by many names). Truth is something we open ourselves to. We don’t create it to suit our personality, biases, or temperament. Truth comes to us both from outside ourselves as scripture, teachers, life experience and, yes, in the form of the Godhead in human form.

Yet its ultimate reality is as much in ourselves as in every atom and in the form of the guru-preceptor.
We need to start where we are and do so with an attitude of listening, of openness, and freedom from personal bias, likes or dislikes. To receive truth we go step by step shedding every vestige of ego attachment or self-identity. In the end we receive the pearl of great price by offering the “human sacrifice” of body and personality into soul and soul into Infinity.  This is the deeper meaning of the many and varied forms of sacrifice: harvest, animals or human. We offer all matter, all lower forms of consciousness, all materiality back into the consciousness from which all things derive.

This is not a condemnation or denial of matter or form but a recognition of the only reality that is absolute, eternal and unchanging. Ever-existing, ever-self-aware, and ever in the bliss of Spirit — this describes our true Self as unique manifestations of God.

The existence of the avatar is the promise of our own immortality in God. If such a one did not exist, how could we possibly aspire to such a realization? To acknowledge divinity in such a form is to acknowledge our own potential.

The “first-coming” of the Christ divinity is thus in the human form of the avatar. The “second-coming” is the awakening of the Christ within ourselves which is sparked and nurtured by the spiritual teachings and consciousness of the living Christ in human form. There is no “third coming” in the sense that the creation itself ever becomes Self-realized. It may be dissolved wholly or in part by the forces of nature and the divine will, but only consciousness can become Self-realized because to be realized is an awakening of consciousness, not matter as matter.

It could be said that the first descent, or avatar, is the creation itself, but this gets confusing since the creation as creation is not, as such, Self-realized.

The Super Bowl of Life then is the cosmic battle of the forces of matter which are empowered to go outward and multiply versus the Spirit’s invitation to awaken and go within to find itself and reveal itself to the inquiring Mind. In Self-realization all paradox and duality and conflict are resolved in the One. But in the creation itself, the pendulum of the opposites means we will have Super Bowls onto eternity. As water is more fluid than earth, may the hawks of the sea prevail!

May the best team win!
Nayaswami Hriman


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Search for Meaning - Part 6 (of 7) : God as Consciousness; God as Joy

Part 6 - God as Consciousness; God as Joy

Science, technology, education and travel have expanded our view of reality beyond our nuclear family to include not just our city, county, state, and nation but the planet Earth! Indeed, we gaze into the heavens above and consider the possibilities of intergalactic travel. Similarly, the great preceptors of humanity have taught that Consciousness is a core attribute of God, the underlying substrata of matter. As our cosmos and as space would seem to have no end, so God, as Consciousness itself, is Infinite. There is no realm limited to our imagination and thought, neither time nor space can constrain our idea-mind. By our attunement with God, we, then, too, potentially have no limit to the expansion of our awareness. Thus it may be that by admitting the independent existence of mind, consciousness, and feeling (happiness) one has articulated synonyms for “God.”

You see, the innate sense of satisfaction, fulfillment and well-being which result from an expansion of our awareness and sympathies to include others are indirect testimonies to the existence of consciousness independent of matter and, by extension, then of God. When we are angry, resentful, jealous or vindictive we are upset and unhappy. The opposite is self-evidently true. It may be true that happiness and contentment “enhance” our chances of survival (though hardly a truism) but such actions are not rooted in mere (or is it “sheer”) survival. Instead, it is the deep memory of our latent or potential for transcendent awareness. For sure, it is happiness that we seek, not only mere survival. Born from the beginning of time out of the womb of God’s bliss, we are endowed with the silent, knowing memory that happiness born of perpetual existence and self-awareness is our nature, our birthright, and our destiny.

It is simply that the drama of creation cannot perpetuate itself if all beings could achieve this final state all at once or too easily. The nature of a good drama is conflict and resolution, good and bad, birth and death. As our true nature is eternal, the impulse of the creation is to perpetuate itself. But the nature of movement is that it swings back and forth, in and out, up and down, hot and cold and, like a perpetual motion machine, it is caught in its own machinations of movement. This is the nature of creation for it is Spirit cloaked in matter. Matter cannot recognize its dilemma, only Spirit, immanent within, can cognize itself. When it withdraws back into it-Self, matter continues more or less untouched. For now, it is not important to argue or explore duality vs nonduality, for that is beyond our subject. Suffice to see that the qualities inherent in matter and creation tempt spirit-incarnate to look for itself (like the Musk deer) in all the wrong places where it cannot be found.

I say to the agnostic scientific mind, you can just as easily contemplate countless  galaxies, the history of nations, the infinitesimal world of quantum physics as to contemplate where you will go on vacation. The vacation may come and go soon enough but the galaxies remain forever (well, at least for a long time). The vacation is an unmanifested idea that has captured your fancy, while the distant galaxies are real whether you think about them or not.

Which, then, is more real? We must conclude that reality is a matter of personal interest and awareness. I am not saying that reality depends on your awareness, so much, as your perception of reality depends upon your interest and awareness.

The world teacher, Paramhansa Yogananda, taught that the joy of meditation is proof of the existence of God. That isn’t literally or logically true but it is intuitively so. The actual inner experience of a state of joy that has no outward source in pleasure, material or egoic fulfillment of any kind, and that can be experienced even in the midst of trials, tribulations, and pain shows that there exists a level of consciousness unaffected by matter. With practice and depth of intuitive perception, this strata of unconditional joy is experienced as self-existent, self-aware, and self-satisfying (needing nothing beyond itself). You need not take this on belief. Be a metaphysical scientist, and prove this for yourself.

But, there’s a catch! I cannot give this to you, like writing a check. One can inspire you; teach you; give you suggestions and counsel, but you must seek and earn it yourself, for it is within you. You have to know about it and want it. Living next door to an excellent restaurant but not being hungry does not give you the pleasure of its fare. Nor is this joy merely a product of an overactive imagination. Anyone who has experienced it would scoff at the accusation that this inner joy was imaginary. Indeed, it can transform your life. That’s reality, so far as you are concerned. And it isn’t a merely subjective reality if it helps you cope creatively, efficiently, and successfully with day to life and life’s up and downs. Nor is it merely subjective if anyone else, making a similar sustained and intelligent effort, can have the same experience. Millions of people now meditate and millions testify as to the consistent results. What more is the scientific method?

Stay tuned for our last section, Part 7 – Meditation & Freedom

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Cosmic Drama Continues: part 4 of 5: In Walks the Devil!

The Cosmic Drama
Part Four (of Five) - In Walks the Devil!

This is part one of a series of articles. It has its origins in a prior blog article entitled, "Who is Jesus Christ?" You may wish to read that first, though not absolutely necessary. This series attempts to describe the Trinity, or, how God can be omniscient, omnipresent, infinite, and immanent in creation at the same time. And, what significance this has for the reality we face as individuals. As the prior article on Jesus Christ noted, "Who Jesus is says a great deal about who we are." So, too, who God is addresses who we are.

When God “sent out” His power through vibration (“Aum”) and seeded it with His reflected Intelligence, the creation (especially the powers and intelligences behind matter) are endowed with procreative power, desire, intelligence, and individuality. Just as the son, who may resemble his father in many ways, is given free will to make his own choices in life, so too, the creation and the souls in creation have been given, and have, made choices. As vibration acquires form, individuality and intelligence it acquires a relative degree of independence. Not absolute, but relative. This power, force and intelligence assumes unto itself a self-perpetuating momentum, not unlike the famous computer HAL in the movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey. The outflowing power of God becomes, by degrees, not only independent but, as it begins to assert its self-identity, either rebelliously or ignorantly, it become satanic. The term “satanic” implies a conscious intention to remain apart and independent. It implies a purposeful rebellion against harmony and attunement with the Creator. It is not sharp line in the sand, but a gradual continuum from divine attunement to forgetfulness to restlessness to ignorance to harm and to conscious evil.

Endowed with intelligence and empowered to go out and multiply and then acquiring the form and feeling of separateness (from God), this outgoing power takes onto itself the responsibility and desire to create, multiply, dominant and remain its own “god.” (Think of the myth of Lucifer or Adam and Eve wanting to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.) Thus does the outflowing force begin gradually to make its own way. The further from God its consciousness inclines, the more the good intention becomes gradually an evil one, usurping God’s power and worshipping itself as godlike. (Thus was Jesus tempted by Satan to have dominion over all the earth if he would but worship Satan as the creation itself.) Thus humans set up false gods, worshipping money, the pleasures of the senses, power over others, addictive substances, and so on. Satan, in the form of the creation, invites us to worship him as the summum bonum of existence. In the end he takes our souls, metaphorically speaking (only), in the sense that we lose (temporarily) our soul joy and innocence in God’s bliss. Death, old-age, disease, disappointment—at last, he reneges on his promise leaving us with neither God’s peace nor our moth-eaten treasures on earth.

There is another aspect to this loss of innocence. As Spirit is cloaked in form, individuality, and separateness, it finds itself competing for survival in a world of the senses. Forced to feed, clothe and shelter itself, it finds that the compelling necessities of its outer form cause it to look outward through the senses. The outer world gradually becomes its reality and lost is the divine memory of its own omniscience and immortality. It will take untold incarnations for this lost soul to (ascend first to the human level, and then untold more incarnations to) rebel against the “anguishing monotony” of continued rounds of rebirth, struggle, pleasure, pain, illness and death after having exhausted every avenue of sensory and ego-affirming, but ultimately disappointing, fulfillment.

Thus, the macro-characters in the cosmic drama are God (as the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) and the satanic force which opposes harmony with and union with God. Paramhansa Yogananda put it this way: the satanic force has sowed the creation with patterns of imperfection (pain, disease, & physical death) so that our memory of divine perfection will impel beings to want to return to the creation to make it perfect. But alas, the cosmic drama requires the villain that we might love the hero. The villain must be punished and the hero is applauded. As we act more like the hero we come closer to God. In this way, even the satanic force of maya (delusion and ignorance) act to sow the seeds of our longing for perfection. This perfection, this bliss, this union is found only within our souls—in God alone. We have an eternity of free choices to discover and seek this re-union, just as the prodigal son in Jesus’ story, hungry and famished, decides to begin the journey home to his Father. There he is welcomed and embraced (not punished).

Whether we view the betrayal of God’s divine purpose as the result of the “first man and woman” (Adam and Eve) or as a choice we all make, especially beginning with puberty, is perhaps a matter of taste. The reality is that, from the human point of view, evil exists, ignorance exists, wrong choices and bad things happen and we need to make things better. Blaming God has its place, but only to a point. Doing so doesn’t change the bad things. We have to take action and we have to take at least some responsibility for ourselves and our neighbor. Without this, life would be not worth living. Besides, in truth and at the present moment, most people wouldn’t have it any other way and are not the slightest bit interested in knowing, loving, serving and uniting in love with God.

The "devil made me do it",

Nayaswami Hriman