Emptiness And Bliss
In so many years I have not pondered the philosophical or intellectual question of whether there is really an immortal spirit within. It is Self evident everywhere one looks. In the end there is but one Friend, in many colors and in many places, who moves through infinite love behind all our faces.
The Supreme Consciousness or Atman simply is what it is. A mirror may reflect a rose or a mud puddle but it never really effects the mirror. Similairly, there is always present a witnessing consciousness in all beings that is in essence bliss. No matter how lowly or distorted or corrupt the mind is, there is still a pure witness behind this show.
When one goes deep within and moves close to the Atman, the mind becomes light and full of grace and love. Although the Atman as Supreme Subjectivity of the entire universe is beyond any anthropormorphic projection of our relative minds, there are revealed very noble spiritual qualities in the minds that fathom Its bliss. Somewhere between this relative mind with the notion “me and mine” and the subjective, superpersonal Atman there exists love and grace and all of the other fine qualities that one can attribute to a personal god, a theistic god. For this reason I agree with my Christian friends on the notion of forgiveness and redemption because there is an infinite grace that guides the mind back into the infinite and eternal bliss of the Supreme Subjectivity of the Atman. Many of my Christian friends can conceive of such a god without calling it “He,” or at least knowing the attribute comes from us. My buddhist friends have a similair idea but instead of grace being an act of a personal god it is rather the act of infinite compassion, which is the essence of all. It is the same universal love as the Christians, but without the anthropormorphic attributes. With this understanding in mind I have no problems with my Christian friends who tell me I am a Christian or Buddhist friends who consider me a Buddhist. Personally, I just practice meditation and try and take a few notes on the processes.
The point I want to make is that all beings deserve love and compassion and we should always try to forgive every transgression, “seventy times seven.” However, this nobility is so often exploited in spiritual groups where leaders want to hide their transgressions from their followers and not take responsibility for them. If one criticizes incongruencies or hypocrisies the rest of the flock can consider you “negative” and “critical” and lacking the finer understanding of spiritual life with love and compassion. This is exactly the attitude that the church, the state, the sect, or any hierarchical power structure wants to impose upon its followers.
Mature people try to follow their conscience under all circumstances and speak out against injustice but also to forgive. One should have infinite forgiveness on the inside while maintaining discernment in regard to forgiving people too easily, especially when forgiveness requires pardoning people who harm human society and hide from their moral responsibilities. The challenge is to forgive them within but not without, at least until their negative influence is removed from society. Spiritual weaklings always justify the path of passivity because they have not the strength to criticize the unjust acts of the powerful. They permit the shrewd and powerful to continue trampling on humanity while they maintain their hypocritical peace.
In tantra it is said that “there is no peace without a fight. Peace is the result of a fight.” Struggling against injustice is not aggression nor does it contaminate the mind with negativity if one remains centered in awareness and realizes the purpose of human life; that all beings will eventually return to their essential state of grace. One can love the most terrible criminal, preist or politician only if one understands human nature from this perspective. These people not only deny themselves their essential birth right of spiritual liberation but deny others their essential rights of life and liberty when they create governments, institutions, and businesses that deny people of their most basic needs and rights. I like the idea of Padmasambhava who is considered an incarnation of the Buddha but at the same time was a spiritual ass-kicker. He annihilated the evil sorcerers who manipulated and controlled society with his spiritual power, his Vajra. However, he also forgave when they surrendered before his mighty wrath. Perhaps we don’t have the full moral discernment and enlightenment of Padmasambhava and feel confident about confronting injustice to such a degree as him. However, it is an excellent ideal. Practically speaking, the more one gets closer to the Atman the more moral discernment one has. How else can one get close to truth? The more we love others the more we treat them as ourselves and when we see injustice imposed upon others we react to it as if it were a transgression against very own person.
I hope more and more people advance in their meditation or prayer and refine their moral discernment so that we can pull the rug out from under the shrewd minds of the materialists and imperialists with a more evolved awareness that these people can in no way manipulate. Make yourself a vehicle of the living universe under the infinite light of the Atman and have no fear. The supreme subjectivity is in favor of acts of unity. Its only duty is to make all one again, and will use any of its vehicles to accomplish this. The Vajra has got you covered.
A friend comments:
“I think it is relevant to mention the foundation of the Buddhist compassion, which is “bodhicitta”; that is briefly, the notion of the awakening mind (“relative bodhicitta”) that, along with discerning wisdom, provides the knowledge of “interdependence” among everything. plus, the understanding of “Shunyata” (“absolute bodhicitta”), which is the knowledge of “emptiness”, implying the freedom from all attachments.”
The chitta is the objective mind, the mental plasm in which the nerve cells impress their information. Bodhi is intuition or illumination. In yoga, ekagrata is one-pointedness of chitta. When fully concentrated the mind sees beyond its limited concepts and perceptions as it finds its source in the Macrocosmic mind. This idea of the union and interconnectedness of the microcosm and the macrocosm seems similar to the idea of “relative bodhichitta.” Yet when the mind is fully concentrated one also sees that the objective mind is ultimately “empty” in that the very existence of the objective mind depends on its receiving impressions from the brain, which is constantly in flux. the objective mind which depends on these impressions is ultimately empty. Ultimately, not even the Macrocosmic mind is absolute. Although all beings are interconnected within the Macrocosmic mind of Brahma, the mind still seeks shelter within the blissful Witness above the eternally changing macrocosmic mind, or God: the Generator, Operator, and Destroyer of the universe. Perhaps this idea of the ultimate dissolution of the mind what the Buddhists refer to as “absolute bodhichitta,” where there is no mind, and therefore no attachments. For a Buddhist, infinite compassion remains when the mind is emptied. According to the yogis, there is “Sat Chit Ananda” or Existence, Consciousness, and Bliss beyond the fluctuating, relative mind.
Anandamurti said the mind is a relative, ever-changing, and functional entity. without association with the external world and sensory images from the brain, the mind withdraws into the inner “I.” Without objective impressions one cannot identify with the experiences that they create such as i am walking, i am seeing you, i hear you…etc. yogis understand that ekagrata, or one-pointedness of mind, gives one complete knowledge of the interconnectedness of the relative universe, but also reveals that all phenomenal things are relative, or “empty. “
It seems the Buddhists dont assign too many words or objective concepts to what the yogis call the supreme subjectivity because those concepts are all mind born ideas. In tantra maya meditation the spirit of the atman is not given objective names either. the great subjective mystery beyond the emptiness of the mind is called hunab ku, a term very similiar to what tantrics refer to as purusottama, the consciousness nucleus. here, of course, “consciousness” refers to an essence, not a process of being conscious of something ultimately empty in the chitta. I see the ideas of tantra maya as a synthesis between Buddhist and traditional indian tantras as regards to what to call the Atman-Spirit-Witness.
Meister Eckhart, a 13th century Christian mystic said that with true detachment, which was for him the highest spiritual virtue, not even God can bind the soul. He distinguished between the active God as trinity and the essence of the “Godhead” from which the activity of God arises. The soul ultimately is at one with the Godhead and transcends even God. Yogis have the same idea in that the Generator, Operator and Destroyer of the universe can never be liberated (or be a liberator) as God (Saguna Brahma) is infinitely busy with activity. This aspect of Brahma is like an ocean full of active waves. If one wave dies down there will always come other one’s in its place. In deep meditation and contemplation one may take refuge in the deity without attributes (Nirguna Brahma) like an infinite and peaceful ocean without waves. this is the Godhead, Shunyata, or Nirguna Brahma.
In ancient Indian Tantra Yoga the mental ideation or concentrated thought for the practice of meditation is taught as “I am That” or “I am Brahma.” For the extroverted mind without intuition of the Supreme Subjectivity of the Atman it is quite necessary to use an objective mental concept like a mantra to refer to “That,” the mystery of mysteries, especially in the beginning. Who understands silence and what lies embedded in the silence underneath the wavering, coquettish mind? Without an objective, descriptive idea of the Supreme Subjectivity with the qualities of love, light, bliss, or even a personal being with human-like qualities, this contemplation of the Atman is impossible for most. It is only when the mind has matured and internalized and understood the problems and complexes related with the personality and its external, social world and has developed intuition and self-reliance in spiritual and existential affairs that it is possible to begin to understand the Atman or Supreme Subjectivity as a “This” instead of a “That.”
After so much sincere practice, the sweetness of Om reveals the blissful essence of the Atman as the essence of one’s person. Atman is inconceivable for the mind’s intellect and ego but is in no way “impersonal.” The heart usually knows this simple truth well before it is so furtively and constantly churned away in the mind over so many lives and deaths. Atman ultimately is revealed as what is most near and dear, closer to me even than my eyes or nose or hands. Atman is within the very notion of “I exist,” It is the I-Witness. Now, I only see, so “I am This” becomes a more natural form of ideation.
The mind is usually too involved in unresolved conflicts of the psyche and/or social world to be able to have this deep spiritual confidence and simply be Oneself. This Atman, this “I-Witness” is far too close to be considered an object, a “that” or thing outside of Oneself. Even the most refined concepts of divinity are but maps and references that refer to what is inconceivable for the mind. Eventually we encounter subtle in-originalities, things acquired along the way that served quite a good purpose but no longer quite express our honest and direct truth. Fine wine becomes vinegar some day. In Ramakrishna’s experiences of samadhi he held on so firmly to the image of the Great Mother archetype until he finally had to shatter even this loving image to merge into the transcendental Atman beyond even broad-minded vibrantly charged religious concepts. Buddhists seem to have fewer problems with this issue. One fine morning the Zen master wakes up and shatters his little Buddha figure.
“This” implies greater closeness and points deep within and cannot be confused with the image of the ego and its concepts that are witnessed from above by this Supreme Subjectivity. The mind cannot distort this intuition because it cannot even grasp what is not idea, a “that”. The Atman sees all but is not captured by what It sees. The Atman, contemplated in peace and silence, totally consumes the whole notion of “I am,” much less any idea like “I am a Buddhist,” “I am a Christian,” or what have you. This notion of ego, of “I am” is the progeny of the Atman. After sporting about in all orbits of time and space for eons, mind always finds its nucleus as an immortal and ineffable Witness. Older than all stories ever told, only the Atman’s perspective gives a positive reference for our persons in a fleeting and ephemeral world. “Yes, I have been with you all along, has there ever been anything meaningless?”, is the voice we all long to hear. Atman then dissolves and liberates the mind like a spider who in some strange manner recovers and consumes its own Self-spun web.
“I am not I. I am this one walking beside me whom I do not see, whom at times I manage to visit, and whom at other times I forget; who remains calm and silent while I talk, and forgives, gently, when I hate, who walks where I am not, who will remain standing when I die.”
— Juan Ramón JiménezVishal Quetzal, author profile