The Perennial Philosophy
Excerpt from A Name To The Nameless
There has never been nor will there ever be a more exalted inspiration than the realization of the oneness of the human soul with the Infinite Being. This is an ever-renewing germ of thought in the perennial philosophy that will sprout wherever there are noble hearts and great minds that seek to love and understand the deepest parts of our being. The greatest sages of all eras and cultures have proclaimed this great truth: that the deepest source of a human being’s existence is at one or in union with the Supreme Consciousness. The universality of such a cardinal idea is not necessarily due to the cultural transmission of a great seer to others following his or her cultural descent, nor is it necessarily due to the influences of one culture upon another. Its universality represents the realization of spiritual aspirations innate to the nature of humanity. For an individual to understand the essence of one’s inner “I” which transcends all of the particularities of his/her biological inheritance, cultural orientation, social conditioning, and personal tastes, is to know the essence of the universal “I”, the infinite consciousness and life-source of the universe.
The fundamental spirit of this book is an attempt to understand the psychological and spiritual processes involved in the realization of the Infinite. The explanation of these processes will be described within the theoretical and practical framework of the intuitive science of Tantra. Instead of being a religious or philosophical system of thinking, Tantra is an experiential and intuitive science that is based on spiritual practice or sadhana. Theory explains the how and why and is verified by one’s own experience through the intuitive introspection of sadhana. Intuition and empiricism aren’t separate ideas in Tantra. Just because something is experienced on the internal levels of mind, doesn’t mean it isn’t a “practical experience.” The greatest human discoveries have always been intuitive, even intellectual and scientific realizations. The practice and outlook of Tantra encompasses not just the spiritual and internal planes of existence, but the intellectual, emotional, and physiological as well. The explanation of the mental and spiritual processes involved in the quest for our self-realization must examine the whole spectrum of human consciousness from the “simian to the seraphic.” One must understand all of the modes of thought and expressions of feeling that influence one’s soul. It is also necessary to understand how one changes and evolves from one stage of thinking and feeling to the next. Most importantly, Tantra sadhana is the quest to liberate the mind from the complexes and fetters that bind it in limited identifications that cloud our thought and narrow our feeling. Intuitive understanding gives mental freedom, peace and purity. With intuition, the radiance of the eternal, inner “I” becomes simple and self-evident.
To realize a spiritual philosophy and worldview that comprehends our nature as a whole may seem especially difficult in an age where scientific, empirical knowledge is so specialized and compartmentalized. The modern scientific disciplines are so fragmented and isolated from the other disciplines within their broad family. However, science seems to see no other alternative than to fragment and isolate in order to reach precision and accuracy.
Tantra literally means expansion from crudity. It is a process to transform the instinct into intellect and further transform intellect into intuition, where head and heart are so perfectly balanced. The uniqueness of the Tantric approach is that spiritual practice and realization follow certain psychic and spiritual laws that are embedded in the subtle nature of the mind. There are mental dynamics and laws that function just as clearly as gravitational force functions in the physical world, for example. This subtle knowledge is discovered through the trials of sadhana, of inner experimentation in the mental laboratory. Aurobindu termed this process “mystical empiricism.”
So often one thinks that a scientific approach to knowledge is only antithetical to a spiritual and intuitive means to higher knowledge. And there is certainly good reason for this. One has not only to look at intellectual and cultural history with all of the conflicts of faith versus reason. One can see the contemporary disparities between knowledge of the physical world opposed to knowledge of the mental and spiritual spheres. Science can rationally explain our physical world to some extent. However, it is very rare to find people or institutions that can explain the spiritual and deeply psychological layers of our being in a rational, lucid and methodical manner. Most of the time spirituality is seen as religious dogma and conventional belief systems instead of a practical science. One of the greatest struggles that human culture faces today is the reconciliation of the scientific world view with a modern and rational spiritual world view.
This synthesis of the spiritual and scientific approach is possible without deadening an integrated, holistic spiritual outlook with the tyranny of scientific materialism and reductionism. What is needed is a philosophy that recognizes the transcendental unity behind the changing and ephemeral phenomenon of nature while at the same time recognizing creation or nature from a perspective of the most heightened, benevolent and refined spiritual intellect: an intellect so pinnacled it conceives the essence of things while at the same time upholding “sharply delineated concepts,” as Steiner puts it. Therefore, we must realize that not even the fall of a sparrow can happen without the cosmic will but to also know the hidden, esoteric cause. We must perceive and conceive the subtle mechanisms that bring about the manifestation of cosmic will.
For a spiritually oriented mind there is no end to the capacity to understand this universe. In accordance with Tantric theory, we can understand and conceptualize everything in this creation be it crude matter or subtle mind. The only limitation to our knowledge is in defining our inner “I” consciousness. What is meant is not the common use of the term consciousness as particular perspectives and idiosyncrasies of an individual. Consciousness is rather the fundamental Witness that is the hub of the identity, a Supreme Subjectivity. All of the personal qualities, experiences, feelings, and intellect are but spokes stemming from the hub of the Supreme Consciousness. All that exists is seen by the Supreme Consciousness. There is no existence apart from this, only the illusion of our separateness. Our deepest subjectivity or sense of Self is in essence the immediate, inner presence of the Supreme Consciousness. The Upanishads ask, “How can the Knower be known?” The Supreme Consciousness witnesses and sees all minds and hearts from its state of pure, subjective Consciousness and cannot become an object even for the most refined intellect. The only way to know the Absolute is to become one with it, to merge into it by discerning its reality within the inner feeling of “I-exist” and to know and feel that you are It. This refined, mindful, intuitive vision is the essence of mysticism. This is the highest spiritual knowledge and existential realization possible in Tantra: to be and live in union with the Supreme Consciousness.
And what about the stages along the journey? Are there realms of being in-between the relative physical world and the Absolute? Are there simply name and form here and namelessness and formlessness there? Or does the spiritual and contemplative life becomes so nebulous and abstruse that we entirely abandon our intellect and language when things become subtle? And what of the passions and sentiments? What is their place and purpose in existence? A truly spiritual outlook must have the scope of understanding the array of feelings from the basest to the passionate to the most noble of human sentiments.
In the times we live in, psychological balance and a deeper meaning of life is quite rare. More rare is finding a spark of cosmic consciousness present within ones life. The lot of humanity is moving towards self-alienation as meaningless pawns in a degenerated materialistic system with little or no regard for humanistic and spiritual endeavors. It is no wonder that so many lives are governed by fear, resentment, insecurity, ambition, and vanity when there are so few healthy channels for human expression. When a sincere person does try to open the heart and mind, one finds so much inner conflict and confusion that the temptation to rejoin the herd-consciousness is almost izrresistible. One finds not the inner, blissful consciousness but rather a quagmire of self-doubt, repressed fears and complexes.
However, we must find a solution, both as individuals and as a united human society. We must not give way to fear and apathy and the repression of what is truest and pure in our nature. Tantric philosophy and practice may give us such a deep understanding of the all of the mind’s existential and emotional needs that it is possible to understand and heal them. With the integration of the psychological limitations one can progress onward toward the deeper, intuitive layers of mind until one finally understand the core of consciousness and purpose of life. Finding this great “I” within liberates one from suffering and shows the way to freedom. This inward gaze is a feeling of eternal joy, of knowing beyond all doubts that the internal “I” has always been free. Our truest essence is bliss.
The Supreme Consciousness is the Self, the subject and witness of all created things- the mind, the body, and the entire universe. This blissful, pure Self is so essentially unified with in us and so close that the mundane mind can’t even grasp it. Mysticism is the process of revealing what is inside and hidden. This mystical union is possible through the science of sadhana, spiritual practice. Through cultivating our inner oneness with the infinite Consciousness our entire being can indeed be gazed upon from that abode of bliss.
Through our union with the source of infinite knowledge, resourcefulness and creativity, all things are capable of being understood. Within the universal mind, is the intuitive perspicacity to penetrate the secrets of heaven, the subtle worlds, or divine realms. It can understand all things, including itself, up until the point it asks itself “from where have I come, what is my source?” The Vedas even mention that Brahma, the Creator, does not even know its origin. Only when mind attempts to fathom the unfathomable is it ultimately defeated, but defeated in bliss. Like an arrow in its target, the mind becomes lost in Brahma. Mind dissolves in its essence and origin with that final inquiry. “The only way to know Brahma is to become Brahma.”
This understanding brings us to a very fine balance between the intuitive approach of eastern mysticism and the dynamism of the western intellect. At one extreme is the complete transcendence of the mind, world, and body: at the other, the reduction of all things to matter. So the modern contemplative must of course be able to tread the fathomless ground of the godhead, of the absolute, uncreated Brahma. While at the same time it is necessary to maintain an acute intellect and intuition that can fully comprehend all the spiritual and psychological processes along our journey through the physical, psychic and spiritual worlds. With this harmonious balance of the inner (subjective) and outer (objective) spheres the individual attains his/her own emancipation by realizing the Infinite Being within one’s very own existence. This realization cultivates one’s deepest humanity and gives the wisdom and compassion to care for and further the progress of all creation. . Download “A Name To The Nameless”Vishal Quetzal, author profile