Not Escaping the World
Oct 24, 1995 05:13 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
Following is another quote from "The Life and Teaching of Naropa"
by Herbert Guenther, Shambhala, pages 189-91. The passage contains
several points relevant to recent discussions on 'theos-l'.
> ... in Tantrism the ordinary world of appearance is not unreal
> but the ultimate in a limited and restricted way, and thus a
> challenge to man to perfect and enhance it with beauty and value
> which is more than earthy.
The ultimate is found on *this plane* as well as on the higher
planes. We are responsible to bring an unearthly beauty and value
to this world. Our goal is not to escape physical existence as
quickly as possible, but rather to manifest the deepest, the
most spiritual, the highest creativity that we can give expression
> Buddhist Tantrism is on the whole (there are of course
> exceptions) what William Pepperell Montague calls 'positive
> mysticism' and describes as:
> > The positive mystic is one whose revealation of the invisible
> > and transcendent serves not to blind him to the concrete details
> > and duties of visible existence, but rather to illuminate and
> > strengthen his earthly life.
Our inner awakening can lead to a positive influence upon our
earthly life. We find our experience of life in the world given
added depth. We may drive the same car, cook the same dinner, or
answer the same phone call, yet the world, to us, is different. It
is richer, there is much more going on, a sense of magic and
wonder fills our experience.
> > His outlook on the world is devoid of illusionism, pessimism,
> > asceticism, and occultism.
We do not approach life with a sense of self-denial nor of looking
at things hidden behind the external world. That does not mean
that we are pleasure-seeking nor materialist. It means that we
have no notion of personal self, and act for the common good
without a second thought. We practice self-denial when appropriate
but don't think of it in those terms. We don't seek the occult or
hidden side of things because it is not hidden *to us*; we see it
in and throughout external life.
> > To mystics of this higher type nature seems more real rather than
> > less real, and beautiful rather than ugly.
There is no effort to seek escape from the material planes, because
we recognize the divine throughout, and see its beauty in the
outer world. We find beauty before us in life. We appreciate the
opportunity to live in this world of causes, and enjoy the *sense
of depth* to life. (This depth is the contrast between the
experience of the highest planes and the physical. The lower the
plane the greater the sense of depth to existence.)
> > And instead of devoting their lives to the negation of the will
> > to live and to a repudiation of earthly existence and its duties,
> > they use their inner light to supplement the outer light of
> > common sense and of science, and strive to incarnate the kingdom
> > of heaven in the world.
This is a different approach from some spiritual paths that teach
that our goal is to escape the necessity of physical incarnation,
and to seek rebirth on higher planes (globes).
We are instead seeking to bring into manifest existence the
treasury of the Spirit. Our work is to bring about the Fifth,
Sixth, and Seventh Rounds, by creating the conditions in the world
and in our inner natures for the external manifestation of Manas,
Buddhi, then Atman.
> Both ultimacy and semblance must coincide in a unitary experience
> or the goal lived in everyday life. Technically this is known as
> the coincidence of ultimate truth and relative truth. ...
There is an experience of life in which the sense of the ultimate
and of everyday life are unified. Grand, universal, cosmic truths
and the details of our matter-of-fact world become unified in our
With Manas we have a notion of subject and object. With Buddhi
comes a notion of non-separation with others. And with Atman comes
the notion of dissolution, of unqualified oneness with all of
life. This unificiation, where the ultimate and the everyday are
no longer separate, comes yet higher in our inner nature. It
transcends the apparent duality between the manifest part of
ourselves (the ray of consciousness sent out by the Monad or the
seven principles) and the Monad itself or the unmanifest part of
> The path is essentially the attempt to 'unfreeze' the common
> state of hardened prejudices and opinions and to endow the
> smallest thing with pulsating life in a transcendent glow of
> ineffable beauty and value.
We basically learn to find the same magic, wonder, and wisdom
behind things of *this plane* which we are only able to currently
do with things of much higher planes. What we are doing is
awakening to a deeper consciousness on the physical plane,
awakening its higher or spiritual qualities.
> This comes about by a process of de-objectification,
This process happens by stopping the action of the mind to
create a false perception of an external, objective world.
> ... The goal is the realization of reality as unitary and as
> life out of this sphere which in normal behaviour becomes one
> with a living transcending awareness as a positive contribution
> to human life, not a flight from it,
We seek to realize a unified consciousness where our normal
activities take on transcendent qualities and lead to our making
positive contributions to others. This is the opposite approach
from seeking to find external life as without value, and seeking
escape from the wheel of rebirth and the necessity of physical
> or as Padma dkarppo put it: 'As coincidence, the individuality of
> authentic Being-in-the-world and noetic being as such.' ...
We seek after a state where Manas functions in cooperation with
our higher principles, leading to an unified experience of life,
an experience of "authentic Being-in-the-world".
> The idea of a double truth is thus essentially different from the
> one which in the Western world found its specific formulation ...
> as the double truth of science and faith ...
In the West there is an artificial distinction between science
and faith, or between the scientific methodology and religious
experience. There is a hard-and-fast line drawn between that
which can be readily objectified and "proven" and that which is
unprovable and mystical. That line does not need to exist and is
an inner barrier to spiritual progress.
> The conflict still continues and most people live in 'a kind of
> schizoid dissociation' which often assumes pathological
We find the disassociation in many areas of life. Some people go
to church on Sundays, then life the rest of the week doing
horrible things. Others have a huge chasm between their religious
beliefs and what they belive from popular thought, including
Western politics, psychology, history, and science. There's an
artificial and unnecessary gulf between what a Westerner thinks he
knows and his spiritual beliefs and practices, which may seem
somehow unworldly or not-quite-real.
This is entirely different from the experience of life in which
the spiritual *is a living reality* and an inseparable part of
> The demand of Tantrism that ultimate truth and relative truth must
> coincide and, in a certain sense, were in a state of coincidence
> before they were split up by a mind, is not so much a novelty as a
> new sphere which has as much an affective as a cognitive range.
It is the action of the mind that creates the false sense of an
objective world, and creates this "schizoid disassociation". The
unified consciousness that arises when the ego-creating activity
of Manas ceases is as real an experience as the power of
cognition. And it is not merely an idea, but a qualitatively
different type of experience of lfie.
> It is experiencable as the experience process itself, not as the
> content of the experience.
And this higher functioning of Manas is not something that we do.
Rather, it is a new way of doing things, a new way of experiencing
life, a new mode of consciousness, wherein Buddhi is allowed to
play a predominant role in ourselves, no longer subject to the
rulership of the ego-creating aspect of Manas.
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