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Friday, May 25, 2007

The experience of Aswapati is of a different order of Nirvana. This is something beyond the Buddhist Nirvana

Re: 12: A Downward Look by RY Deshpande on Thu 24 May 2007 06:59 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Past not-self and self and selflessness—the Unknowable
We have in the Gita a significant term brahma-nirvāņa which, as Sri Aurobindo explains in the Essays, is the extinction in the Brahman, the Vedantic loss of a partial in a perfect being. This state is different from that of supreme peace of a calm self-extinction, śāntim nirvāņa-paramām, which is not the Buddhist's Nirvana in a blissful negation of being. Generally, in these connotations, Nirvana is taken in the sense of total non-attachment and extinction of the ego. It is a state of inner deeper happiness, of peace, the peace of an absolute inactive cessation.
“Sages win Nirvana in the Brahman,” says the Scripture; everything is blown out in it, everything transient and sorrowful. It further says: Brahman-knower is he who has risen into the Brahman-consciousness, brahmavid brahmaņi sthitāh. One who has the deeper inner happiness and the deeper inner ease and repose and the intense inner light, that Yogin becomes the Brahman and reaches self-extinction in the Brahman, brahma-nirvāņam.
The experience of Aswapati in Savitri’s Pursuit of the Unknowable is altogether of a different order of Nirvana, a singular, exceptional experience of the positive kind, that from which can ensue new possibilities. But first let us see what Nirvana is. We may just read the following from Sri Aurobindo: (Letters on Yoga, pp. 46-7)
In orthodox Buddhism it does mean a disintegration, not of the soul—for that does not exist—but of a mental compound or stream of associations or samskāras which we mistake for our self. In illusionist Vedanta it means, not a disintegration but a disappearance of a false and unreal individual self into the one real Self or Brahman; it is the idea and experience of individuality that so disappears and ceases,—we may say a false light that is extinguished (nirvāņa) in the true Light. In spiritual experience it is sometimes the loss of all sense of individuality in a boundless cosmic consciousness; what was the individual remains only as a centre or a channel for the flow of a cosmic consciousness and a cosmic force and action. Or it may be the experience of the loss of individuality in a transcendent being and consciousness in which the sense of cosmos as well as the individual disappears. Or again, it may be in a transcendence which is aware of and supports the cosmic action. But what do we mean by the individual? What we usually call by that name is a natural ego, a device of Nature which holds together her action in the mind and body. This ego has to be extinguished, otherwise there is no complete liberation possible; but the individual self or soul is not this ego. The individual soul is the spiritual being which is sometimes described as an eternal portion of the Divine, but can also be described as the Divine himself supporting his manifestation as the Many. This is the true spiritual individual which appears in its complete truth when we get rid of the ego and our false separative sense of individuality, realise our oneness with the transcendent and cosmic Divine and with all beings. It is this which makes possible the Divine Life. Nirvana is a step towards it; the disappearance of the false separative individuality is a necessary condition for our realising and living in our true eternal being, living divinely in the Divine.
About himself, Sri Aurobindo writes (pp. 49-50):
Now to reach Nirvana was the first radical result of my own yoga. It threw me suddenly into a condition above and without thought, unstained by any mental or vital movement; there was no ego, no real world—only when one looked through the immobile senses, something perceived or bore upon its sheer silence a world of empty forms, materialised shadows without true substance. There was no One or many even, only just absolutely That, featureless, relationless, sheer, indescribable, unthinkable, absolute, yet supremely real and solely real. This was no mental realisation nor something glimpsed somewhere above,—no abstraction,—it was positive, the only positive reality,—although not a spatial physical world, pervading, occupying or rather flooding and drowning this semblance of a physical world, leaving no room or space for any reality but itself, allowing nothing else to seem at all actual, positive or substantial. I cannot say there was anything exhilarating or rapturous in the experience, as it then came to me,—(the ineffable Ananda I had years afterwards),—but what it brought was an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom. I lived in that Nirvana day and night before it began to admit other things into itself or modify itself at all, and the inner heart of experience, a constant memory of it and its power to return remained until in the end it began to disappear into a greater Superconsciousness from above. But meanwhile realisation added itself to realisation and fused itself with this original experience. At an early stage the aspect of an illusionary world gave place to one in which illusion (footnote: In fact it is not an illusion in the sense of an imposition of something baseless and unreal on the consciousness, but a misinterpretation by the conscious mind and sense and a falsifying misuse of manifested existence) is only a small surface phenomenon with an immense Divine Reality behind it and a supreme Divine Reality above it and an intense Divine Reality in the heart of everything that had seemed at first only a cinematic shape or shadow. And this was no reimprisonment in the senses, no diminution or fall from supreme experience, it came rather as a constant heightening and widening of the Truth; it was the spirit that saw objects, not the senses, and the Peace, the Silence, the freedom in Infinity remained always, with the world or all worlds only as a continuous incident in the timeless eternity of the Divine.
This is something beyond the Buddhist Nirvana and the Adwaitin's Moksha which are, actually, the same thing.
“It corresponds to a realisation in which one does not feel oneself any longer as an individual with such a name or such a form, but an infinite eternal Self spaceless (even when in space), timeless (even when in time).” (p. 62)
Shankara wanted to dismiss the world as an illusion and attain Moksha, Liberation. Buddha would have stepped into Nirvana but, as Amitabha, he refused to do so, Amitabha who is without bound, who is infinite, is full of light and splendour. Through his effort, he created the Pure Land (Japanese: jìngtŭ) or Sukhāvatī, possessing blissfulness. By his intense tapasya, by his forty-eight vows, it has become possible for the follower of the path to be reborn into this land of happiness. Amitabha's body is golden-hued, hiraņya-varņa, his light is the light beyond mind, his brows illumine a hundred worlds, his eyes are oceans without limit, without shores.
What does he assure us? Nirvana, cessation from the cycles of birth and death, from this Samsara full of pain and suffering. But escape brings not the crown.
Sakyamuni, the Buddha of the present Age, tells us that in the past Dharmakar accepted the misery and suffering of the living creature and, by the power of his compassion, established the Pure and Perfect Land. There would dwell the liberated.
But there is something more than that, something absolutely marvellous. In the evening on 20 December1916, after her meditation at 5.30, the Mother receives a communication from Sakyamuni...
How wonderful, the source of love is infinite! “If the eternal truth finds in thee a means of manifesting itself, what dost thou care for all the rest?” The Eternal as the divine Incarnate has willed it and it must be executed. “The mystery of the manifestation seems to thee more terrible and unfathomable than that of the Eternal Cause.” Aswapati goes to the Eternal Cause and unravels the Mystery of the Creation. Tapping that Eternal Cause he has established the New Creation in the Transcendent.
What could we see in these revelations? The following: In spiritual experience it is the loss of all sense of individuality in a cosmic consciousness, or the experience of the loss of individuality in a transcendent being and consciousness, or a transcendence which is aware of and supports the cosmic action. The possibility of the Divine Life, towards which Nirvana is a step, opens out. There is only the positive reality and that is all that matters. That positive reality has been brought out from the Eternal Cause.
The greatness of Aswapati’s pursuing the utter Unknowable is to go beyond all cosmic manifestation, go beyond even the transcendental manifestation, the Manifestation of the Spirit from which in the cosmic deployment arise its own opposites, opposites that too are like itself infinite and powerful, go beyond Sachchidananda, the originator of this vast manifestation. It is thus alone, going beyond Sachchidananda, could the grim opposites be disburdened, removed, dissolved. When that is done, from the knowledge of the Eternal Cause is formed the Seed of Light, the possibility of the New Creation created. That is Aswapati’s Siddhi. RYD

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