“I have decided to stick with love…
Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The sign of a great man…
“I have decided to stick with love…
Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The sign of a great man…
Over these past few years, I have wondered if the things I teach can even be taught. We all share many facts of life, but how we string them together to form a mosaic or world view of life is individual and personal, although colored and even directed by the winds of social time and place, dictating to so many their personal beliefs and convictions.
I, like so many, am fond of the Socrates quote, “The only true knowing is knowing that you know nothing. For years, I felt that the message of those words was self-evident, requiring no explanation or commentary. But what one feels, knows, and wants to believe are generally, and certainly in this case, three different things.
I, like so many, feel the truth in Socrates’ words. There is a depth of wisdom and profundity to it that rings true to the very depth of my being. It feels to free my soul from the confines and constrictions of social, political, and philosophical bounds. It feels to release me from indoctrination, limitation, and narrow vision.
It is such a relief to see the emperors of convention revealed as ultimately hollow and baseless. Deep inside, in a place where words and convictions cannot touch, we all sense, feel, and love the abstraction of Truth: the only true knowing lies beyond the convictions of perspective.
I, like so many, question what convention dictates as ‘knowledge.’ Yet, convention takes that Socrates quote and files it away in the shoe box of “I get it”, tucked neatly away upon the back shelf in the closet of what so many call ‘truth and knowledge’. We must remember that innovation, progress, and discovery always come as a surprise—a contradiction of what we previously knew to be the way things were. Knowledge is fluid; not a solid, rigid structure. The only true knowing is ‘no thing.’ Yet, we cling to things as what we know.
I, like so many, want to believe that, at least to some degree, my objective and subjective world views, spiritual convictions, and ‘educated’ perspectives are my gateway to Truth. However, it is seeing past those things which leads us in the direction of ‘true knowing.’
After years of teaching, I have come to realize that often Socrates’ quote is only understood as some theoretical abstraction or spiritual understanding of Ishwara—the transcendental reality or essence of all that is. The here and now applicability of that quote eludes most of us, if not conceptually, then certainly when it comes to living our daily lives. In life, all too often we swing from one branch of the tree of conviction to the next. We string the series of convictions together to weave that web, that mosaic, of a world view, forming a world of feelings, knowings, and beliefs that define us. And, we find solace and security in being so defined. That then is called “knowledge”.
Years ago, a student walked away from my discussion of this, vowing to repeatedly tell themselves, “I know nothing. I know nothing.” Essentially, striving to convert knowing nothing into a knowing. It just does not work that way. Yet, the habit of clinging to one branch of conviction to the next seems unavoidable.
Another time, a student put up her hand in class and said, “I know I love my children.” I smiled and, turning my back to face the chalkboard, said, “I am not going to touch that one,” as the classroom chuckled. Then I said, “But I do have some questions: Who are you? Are you the personality that loves and identifies with your children? Or are you the transcendental truth beyond the personality? And do you love them because it feels good to you? And if so, is there a selfish component to the love? Now, I certainly do not say this to undermine what you say. My motivation is only to point out that true knowing is not a thing. It transcends anything and everything. It is, as Socrates said, no-thing.” Everyone smiled and class continued.
Now I understand that this could make someone feel ill at ease, but it highlights an important point. Living from the place of knowing no-thing is very different from conceptualizing no-thing and concluding we have tapped the quote for all it is worth. True knowing is a state of being, of physiology, not philosophy. When it comes to living our lives, deep spiritual understandings go only as deeply as we are. Our level of evolution, our level of consciousness, dictates that. Not our feelings, ‘knowings,’ or beliefs.
On some level, I have found it disheartening to see how ineffective my words have been over the past decades of teaching. On the other hand, I am well aware of the progress so many of my students have made. I understand that when life is most challenging, the teachings are most readily abandoned in the name of those convictions that have woven the web or mosaic of who we are and what we know.
After all, evolution is not an on-off switch. It is a process, like the waves of the ocean upon the shore, slowly, over time, wearing away the rough edges of the pebble, until, in time, the pebble is smooth and rounded—like the smooth and rounded surface of a Shiva linga, radiating pure Consciousness… the only true knowing.
This poet’s struggle with knowing and not knowing on the level of daily life may provide some more perspective here…
Fire and rain. Yang and Yin. The Sun and the Moon. Agni and Soma. The world needs these two poles to spin around. This is a universal principle that applies to all levels of life and existence. The moment the universe manifested, Oneness (Is-ness, pure Consciousness) birthed this duality, called relativity.
Yet everything cycles. Night turns into day. What goes up, must come down. Yin births yang, and the cycles of life go on and on.
These days, there is far too much fire, too much Agni in our world. People hate. Wars rage. Tempers are quick to judge. Self-righteousness divides the people into an ‘us and them’, right and wrong mentality. We all do well to observe how these principles emerge not only in others, but more importantly, within ourselves. This is the age of Kali Yuga, when Rakshasas dwell within the hearts and minds of the people.
The Veda is eternal at every point in creation. All verses go on simultaneously, eternally, and everywhere. One facet of that diamond of omnipresent Is-ness tells of Shiva and Vishnu in conflict. Mother Nature (Shantadurga) takes each of them by the hand and brings peace between them, peace to the universe.
Today, there is a need to bring our world back into balance. More Soma is needed for peace and harmony to reign. Soma must always be maintained as the fires of Agni eternally burn. Mount Soma was born in dedication to this eternal need, so acutely felt in our time. Soma is the nectar for the Gods: “Flow Soma in a most sweet and exhilarating stream for Indra to drink.”
Yet it is said that as the universe comes back into balance, disharmony becomes enlivened. When the red hot sword is plunged into the cool water, the caldron spits and hisses its fiery storm. Yet, the sword is tempered and stabilized.
We see this mechanic today in our world. The climate of human mentalities seems more polarized than ever. People hate, judge, take sides, dig in their heels and fight. Yet there is a deep mechanic here, as the sword of Agni is being plunged into the cooling waters of Soma.
So as we see and experience the raging conflicts of our time, take comfort in the understanding of this underlying mechanic and keep a steady hand on the rudder of your life. We will get through this. Those dedicated to the process are the front line angels of our time. The principles are there, in the Vedic literature, as they are in the laws of physics. Knowledge of the light of life, of the nature of life, illuminates the way.
I received this quote in an email and thought to share it with everyone:
“Acquire Knowledge. It enables its possessor to distinguish right from wrong, it lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when friendless, it guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery.”
~ saying of The Holy Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace.
The difference between our modern level of wealth versus primitive humanity is not based upon money, gold, or treasure. It is based upon knowledge. Money is not true wealth. Knowledge is wealth.
One of my students recently had a doctor’s appointment. When the subject of spirituality came up, the doctor commented that every spiritual group claims to have all the answers. Yet, the spiritual groups disagree with one another. They each claim to have the one valid knowledge. I think we can all agree there is a degree of truth in the doctor’s point.
So who is right? Are all of the spiritual groups wrong? What is going on here? So many are so adamant that their knowledge is the correct one. It ranges from the atheist to the devoutly religious. Is this a commentary on the spiritual oblivion of our time? Is there a way out of this dilemma? Isn’t it interesting that people generally believe what they believe, simply because they were born in a certain country, to a certain family, and grew up with a certain group of peers? How can that be the proper foundation for one’s perspective on the nature of life and existence? Furthermore, life seems to be permeated with paradox… irreconcilable facts. How can we sort all of this out?
Personally, as a young man, I was compelled to take a step back, look, think, and feel before I went along with any particular viewpoint. I needed to figure it out for myself. To me, it was about understanding the nature of life and existence. All the pieces of the puzzle of life needed to fit together. All paradox needed to be reconciled. I needed to use all of my resources to do my best to fathom the mystery of it all. I had to think rationally. I had to feel deeply. I needed to see how physics, anthropology, the arts, linguistics, and all aspects of life come together in a unified and harmonious manner. After all, isn’t that the nature of Truth? If something is true, shouldn’t it hold up to all forms of scrutiny? This path of exploration has spanned a lifetime. A brief overview of my conclusions follows. I believe they will provide some insights we all share.
Watching moths dance around a candle flame at night seems to say it all. Every moth is drawn to the candle flame, but no moth is able to grasp it. They simply dance around it. Similarly, in physics, the unified field is the non-tangible essence of all that is. It is the one thing that is the source of everything. Similarly, Iswara (God) is understood to be beyond fathomability—intangible, undefinable, ungraspable. We all sense that there is something called Truth. We all long for it. We all try to grasp it. We all try to define it. We all try to fathom it. We all feel the need to grasp it. Yet, physics, like Iswara (the Transcendent) tells us it is ungraspable. Everything, all of us, dances around it like moths around a candle flame.
However, the ancients tell us that there is a state that can be attained, where all of the pieces come together at the depth of one’s being. All paradoxes resolve. But even then, we, like the moths, continue to dance around the candle flame that some call Iswara, or the Transcendent, or God, or the unified field. We remain in the dance, but see beyond it. We are in the world, but no longer of it.
That state is not perspective, religion, philosophy, attitude or belief. To think you understand that state is to “understand” it too soon… for it is not just an understanding. It is a state of consciousness. Like the candle flame, it cannot be grasped. It cannot be fathomed. It cannot be defined. Yet, the pursuit of it is inherent in the nature of life… all life. From the amoeba to the human, we all reach for that undefinable something.
There are certainly levels of understanding of science, of every religion, and of every field of life. Personally, I searched to find whichever offered the deepest understanding with the most rigor and clarity. That turned out to be most readily available through Vedic Knowledge. At the same time, like the candle flame, the beauty of that knowledge is that it is ungraspable. When those living from that place speak, their words join in the dance. Those words immediately cease to provide the deepest meaning, and become what the listener heard, as the dance, ’round the light of life, goes on and on.