Dec 13, 1998 09:48 AM
by johnny atman
This effort is the outcome of a talk given to the Theosophical Society
Brisbane Lodge, in which I couldn't
cover the whole topic the way it was meant. Partly because of the
interruptions that occurred because of
the nature of personal opinion within the audience, partly because in my
attempt to introduce people to
something new, I seemingly lost them from the beginning. There was a lot of
disappointment because I
didn't quote from the books that people would normally read, and so I
didn't live up to people's
expectations. People are afraid to look at something without prior
knowledge of the subject, without some
kind of 'I know what you are talking about' smile. And according to what
they already know, they agree
or disagree with the speaker. That seems to be the way in which people are
trying to seek the Truth (at
least some of them).
This time, my approach is dual. I will quote for those who like to be using
references, and I will also
speak freely to those who don't care about Gurus and Masters, but seek to
be a Light unto themselves.
Many people go through life seemingly happy, although the state of humanity
proves otherwise. The
pursuit of happiness, as described by Thomas Jefferson in his speech at the
launch of the American
Constitution seems to be a universal theme. How people pursue happiness,
what they perceive happiness
to be, is an individual rather than a collective thing. Yet, beyond the
everyday choirs, achievements and
pursuits, there seems to be something missing, something deep and soothing,
something that some
humans have detected as being present yet illusive. Those striving for it
often meet with disappointment
or sadly, meet with mental disorders of various kinds. Some, after many
years of effort, give it up
completely, and find pleasure in some pursuits of material kind. A few, if
any, get to a state where the the
secret is revealed. They talk of a 'timelessness', of a state where duality
disappears, where perception is
clear, no longer manufactured and distorted. How do they do it? What is so
special about those people?
The questions of 'how' never seem to cease, day or night. Various sects and
groups have devised methods
as to achieve the 'desired' state, and the followers flock to the Gurus,
the teachers. Between danger and
madness, hangs the human attempt to get a glimpse of Freedom, Liberation,
books have been written, and with the answer at hand, some people become
disciples of knowledge,
arguing between themselves as to what is Truth, Reality and the like.
Opinion is the cheapest commodity
on the market, as one observer said. People group into camps on grounds of
common knowledge, and
delight among themselves at what the books and their content have to offer.
Sharing their experiences and
upholding each others beliefs, they strengthen the power of the written
word beyond imagination. Their
defense of the knowledge they have acquired is frightening, if anything.
More books follow, quoting those
previously written and the web of knowledge thickens as time goes on. But
people have to realize that the
book is not the source, the source is yet to be discovered, the book may
contain 'hints', at times may be
more confusing than enlightening. The book is not the Truth, far from it!
Some impediments to questioning.
Before any attempt is made at questioning anything, we have to be clear
about what are we doing. Where
are we starting from. What is it that we want to achieve, if anything. Is
it achievable? Are we looking for
ourselves, or merely following somebody's opinion? And the bottom question
is: How would I know if I
have achieved that which is True, when I have never experienced it before?
How am I going to recognize
it, to say 'this is it'? Are the means the same as the end, or different?
One has to be clear that the means
and the end are one, that violence never begets peace, that resentments
never begets forgiveness, that
greed never begets contentment. So the other fundamental question is: by
what means are we going to
approach this exercise?
Another thing that people have to come to terms with is that Truth is not
containable. Not a book or a
million books can express it, contain it or describe it. To do so, it would
mean to limit the Truth, to make
it into something like a commodity, to be sold, inherited and passed on.
Anything that has a beginning, has
to have an end. To bring Truth in the concrete world is a fallacy. To own
it, is madness. To speak of it is
futile. Yet, it can be experienced, so we are told. Do we have to believe
that, or can we find that out by
ourselves? And again, how is it that we may get to it? How do we know where
to start and which
direction to take?
The mind is very quick to explain, rationalize anything. We ask a question,
and we seem to find an
answer at any costs. But are the question and the answer addressing the
Truth, or are they merely for
entertainment? What sort of a question can we formulate, in order to get to
the Truth? Where is the
question born? What is the ground from which the question arises? Is it
fear? Is it greed? Is it anxiety? Is
it pain? Suffering? Sadness? Boredom?
Whatever is born of the ground, goes back into the ground, forming a closed
circle. The circle being
closed, is self-serving. The perfect definition of selfishness. The means
is the end. What is the ground?
Can we define what we are looking for? Is Truth definable? If we can define
it, what is the ground from
where the definition is born? Knowledge? Experience? Expectation?
On what basis do we define the Truth? What is the means of definition? What
does it mean to define, to
identify, to give birth to an identity? On what grounds do we identify?
According to whom is the identity
What is involved in the process of objectification, identity formation? Can
we measure the Truth?
According to a source in Theosophy, Maya means 'to measure out'.
The question of meaning.
When we question something, we normally ask: What does 'this' mean? What is
it? Well, let's look at the
word 'meaning'. The Oxford Dictionary says: 'from Latin, medianus, medius,
middle, at the middle point,
lying between, at neither extreme, that by which something is brought about
Another explanation is 'to have in mind, to intend, that which is intended
(to convey), the thought that a
word raises in the mind.
Is meaning constructed, or does it have to be discovered? Can the book
convey the 'meaning' of
something, or do we have to seek the meaning by ourselves? If the meaning
is that which is 'lying
between', what is it? Is meaning nothing other than relationship? How do I
relate to something? What is
the means of relationship? (Between people, people and objects?). Is the
means greed, self interest, fear,
violence? What is that which connects me with something else?
If we look seriously, we can find out that we construct meaning, construct
our relationship with things by
identification. We identify something, name it and the very act of
identification brings with it the meaning,
the relationship with that thing. If we describe someone as an 'enemy',
then the relationship is defined, we
'know' how to deal with an enemy. Expectation arises out of the act. We
expect the 'enemy' to do
something terrible, we prepare to defend ourselves, we avoid the person,
etc. Thus, the actions we
undertake towards that person are 'predetermined', and keep this in mind,
it has a lot to do wit Karma.
If we, on the contrary, identify somebody as a 'friend', the meaning of the
word is somebody helpful,
friendly, smiling, and we expect good things from the person. Our actions
are predetermined, in a positive
Desire is thus born. Desire to attract the good and keep the bad at bay.
In both cases, there is no freedom to act. Keep this in mind also. Not for
long, though. Is good to have an
opinion for the moment (is it?), but is not advisable to wake up with it
To define is to confine, to predetermine, to know in advance. This is
clear. The relationship is concrete,
set, immutable (or hard to change).
The act of defining, of identity formation, implies to objectify, to
concretize, to divide. The knower and
the known. The known is born of the knower, thus the knower is the known,
the seer is the seen, beauty
is in the eye of the beholder (not in the world of form, I am obviously the
fence I am looking at). But in
terms of identification, the identifier is the identified, that is, in
terms of perception, the perceiver is the
perceived. "I am Alfa and Omega, that which is, was and is to come", the
beginning and the end, the
cause and the effect. Yet, few of us are aware of this simple fact. The
Theosophical Masters, in one of
their letters, state that "duality is not real, it doesn't in fact exist".
It is perhaps correct (?) to substitute
duality with 'togetherness'. The two, are the basis of conflict, one is
trying to modify the other, to control,
to subdue, etc. Effort that is in vain. Is just like trying to change the
person in the mirror, but that person
is me, only I refuse to change, I insist that the person in the mirror
Out of this duality, the cause-effect state, the questions of freedom
arise! The question of Enlightenment!
And in fact, Blavatsky mentions that Karma has something to do with the
pineal gland, something that she
doesn't say anymore about. I say, (?) that the action of objectification
closes the gland, and maintains
duality. When objectifying stops, the gland will open, the pituitary will
open and the Reality restored. But
don't take it as proof, it is only words! Find out for yourselves!
From the Known to the Unknown.
Somebody once said: "In order to get far, we must start near." That means,
we must start with what we
know. Where we are. What do we in fact, know? What is knowledge? Who am I?
What is the process of
knowing? How do we know something? In terms of what do we know? What is
the basis for knowing?
What is the ground of knowing? Well, the answer is obvious, it is
knowledge. Knowledge is the source of
knowing. Now, the question is, if the means of knowing is knowledge (as it
follows, the means is the end,
which is the source ) the answer will also be more knowledge. It is a
self--serving mechanism, in which
opinion is born, and an act of selfishness is born, knowledge sees only
itself, its products, its means and
ends. From knowledge only further knowledge is born. Knowledge begets
knowledge. Self-opinion is
blindness. Narrow-mindedness. Illusion (it is a fact, but not true, not
What is the source of knowledge (if we are looking for the source of
things)? Where does knowledge
come from? Experience! Past. Memory. Remember that what is born is subject
to death! Now, if I ask
myself the question "who am I", how would I answer that? Try it! See what
Now, we must ask: Is the Truth to be found in knowledge? Obviously, we saw
that in knowledge we can
only find knowledge. Does knowledge contain the Truth? Obviously not, we
discussed it before, Truth
cannot be contained, it is not a thing, but in our nescience, we concretize
it, we bring it from the
Unknown to the Known, and we transform it from 'what it is' to what we
think it is. Thought is the
mechanism of using knowledge. thought works in duality, by comparison and
measurement. Thus, we
lose it and remain with a bitter taste in our 'mouth'. With an impression,
an opinion. the more we try to
bring it down to the concrete world of thought, the more we fail miserably,
we feel like we are at the
'gate' but cannot enter. Funny that the gate comes in, there is a story
about a monk who did, according to
his opinion, all the good things he had to in order to go to 'heaven'. At
the gate, he knocked three times,
and a voice spoke: 'Who are you'? The monk said he is such and such, he did
all those things he had to
do righteously and he deserves a place in 'heaven'. The gate did not open.
He remained there for a while,
and after sometime, knocked again. The voice repeated the question and this
time he only gave his name.
The gate remained closed. He remained for some time puzzled, and after deep
introspection, knocked for
the third time. 'Who is it'? the voice enquired. This time, he remained
silent. 'You may come in', the voice
If the source of Truth is not in knowledge, we must progress. Where is it?
If knowledge or knowing is not
the tool of inquiry, what then? We normally expect another tool, another
method. But wait! What
happens when we realize that knowledge cannot offer us the means to Truth?
What happens to the
seeking activity that seeks? What happens when we can see that the question
arises from knowledge?
That what arises from knowledge can only be answered in terms of knowledge?
That we want to know?
That knowing implies concrete, limited looking? That knowing implies
knowledge, the known, I? We find
that knowledge cannot go beyond itself! It is limited to itself! Forever
its own prisoner, self-contained!
What is born from the ground must go back into the ground! I once said to a
group: 'The object of
consciousness is the limit of consciousness'. Beyond knowledge, there is
death! Death of the known, the
world of the Unknown! Not nothingness, chaos and terror, but simply that
knowledge has no place there,
it cannot set foot in the Unknown. The Unknown is the Unborn, the
Deathless! But knowledge, in it's
deceptive way, tries to set a foothold in there as well, and traps are
easily set to the ones who are blind!
The sensorial mind has no place in the Unknown! It cannot experience the
unknown in terms of
sensation, yet the unknown can be experienced!
Where do we go wrong? If we witness something, we want to retain some of
the event. Why? What is
the use of retention? How does it happen? How do we retain it?
The brain, is a chemical compound, its function is to a certain extent
known to psychologists, the
neurotransmitters being the messengers from one part to another. Sensation
is a physical thing. But why
bring out something, down to the sensorial level? How do we do it? By
creating an image of it! The
sensorial mind works at the concrete level. The level of form, dimension,
time. Experience is measured in
time, how long it lasts! Experience being sensorial, can only last for a
while. When we objectify
something, we liken it to previous experiences, to sensations, and we lose
the 'real' by the very act of
objectifying. We distance ourselves from the Real, the distance between us
and the Real being created by
the 'meaning' of the real. Basically, when we put a meaning to something,
we actually lose the Real
altogether. We are inside experience, sensorial and knowledge. But the Real
is beyond the sensorial. We
are left with a sensorial impression of what occurred. The sensorial
imprint becomes pleasure, the lack of
the sensorial is pain (psychological). The pleasure then has to be
repeated, because it fades, the physical
glands (endorphins) can only last for a while. Where the Real, Beauty and
Happiness, does not have to be
repeated, it is here free, but cannot be possessed! Cannot be stored,
captured, contained. It is
non-material, where the brain and the senses are material.
When the fact of the useless attempt to know the Truth is realized,
something happens to the senses.
They are freed from craving, from desire! The sensorial mind, the 'I' is
gone! The need for experiencing
in terms of the known is gone! So is the attachment to the concrete world!
A new world opens, beyond
description! There is no describer, in what terms should one describe it,
when the tool of description is
gone? It is there! And there is no attempt to 'know' it, because there is
no desire to know it! It is not
objective, nor subjective. It is always aplenty, but fathomless,
measureless, timeless! It cannot be likened
to anything, because in the very process, we are back in knowledge. It is
causeless, but the mind, which
only works in cause-effect dimension, looks for a cause to it. It wants to
get to the cause, take over and
anytime it needs a shot of 'reality', it simply goes to the cause and gets
one! How deceptive! How often
do we say:'You make me angry, you make me happy, I love you, etc.' We
objectify the cause, when the
cause is us, me, I. We are the cause and the effect, I am the anger and the
angry. I made myself that, in
my ignorance of events. If we would not divide the feeling, we would not
distance from the feeling,
something extraordinary would happen. But we don't. The 'you' does not
exist as a thing in perception, it
is only a physical organism. The 'you', if it exists, it is not real, it is
born of 'I', of knowledge, but look at
the things we do to each other, if we would only know that we do them to
ourselves! We are one! Yet,
anything wrong in us is projected onto the 'you', and the conflict starts!
We even talk on behalf of 'you' in
groups, that way we are exempt from criticism! If only we could see that
'I' only talks on behalf of itself,
in its self-opinionated way!
Many times we experience something, but we feel we cannot touch it! We
cannot touch the beauty of a
sunset, yet in order to find the source of beauty, we think that if we
attribute it to an object, a place,
something tangible, we can re-experience beauty by getting in touch with
the 'object of beauty', happiness.
That may be a person, a place, a song, anything sensorial and tangible. The
beauty is not in the sunset, in
the person, in the object. Beauty simply is! No cause! But the sensorial
mind, used to the tangible world,
wants to be able to touch it! To find a cause for it! And in deception, it
does! It transforms beauty in
pleasure, the formless into form, the freedom into desire and craving! But
when the sensorial mind
re-experiences the object, it is pleasure that it re-experiences! And
sensation is short-lasting, hence
craving is unsatiable. Time comes into being, the measure of sensorial
experience, its beginning, end and
greed for more! Sensation, being a material process, it is time-bound.
Matter, form that is, is bound to
change, beginning and end. Yet, being attached to the concrete world in
order to feed our sensorial
craving for experience, we are falling into what? Into Karma? Cycle of
death and birth? Bound to the
world of time, pleasure and pain, duality, and all that? Just because we
are blind not to see what is
happening, what we are doing, enslaving ourselves for the sake of pleasure,
craving, when a world of
beauty and freedom is at hand? Are we so blind that we don't see what greed
and craving does to the
world in which we live in? How trivial we are in seeking pleasure when
beauty and freedom is boundless?
Karma. What is it?
For the bookworms, there is a Theosophical Page that deals with Karma, and
it contains about 22 articles
in-depth on karma, authored by people like Blavatsky and dePurucker (to
name just a few).
For those who like to be secure and have a source of reference, I quote
from Mme. Blavatsky :
"The one Life is closely related to the One Law which governs the World of
this is simply and literally 'action', or rather an 'effect-producing
cause' (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1.
p.634). She goes on saying: "This state (Karmic) will last till man's
spiritual intuitions are fully opened,
which will not happen before we fairly cast off our thick coates of matter;
until we begin acting from
within, instead of ever following impulses from without; namely those
produced by our physical senses
and gross selfish body" (p.644).
"Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plants and
creates causes, and karmic law
adjust the effects, which adjustment is not an act, but universal harmony,
tending ever to resume it's
original position, like a bough, which, when bent down, too forcibly,
rebounds with corresponding vigor"
(Karma Lore 1, p.20).
Karma is taken to be as cause and effect. But is the cause different from
the effect? The Bhuddhist
Teachings say that whoever can see the cause and effect simultaneously, he
(she) can transcend Karma,
being free of it.
What we do, we do unto ourselves, but we don't see that. We sow fear and
expect love. We are truly
ignorant of facts, we would rather take refuge in a book, in a belief, in
something that comforts us.
What of karma? If one stayed awake through this page, one would need not
ask anymore. We don't see
that we hate, we see only the person we hate, and we come up with a good
reason why. We don't see the
act for the object. We attribute our own defects to those around us, and
don't see the destruction we do
to our psyche by allowing hate, greed, fear to reside in our selves. And we
always find a good reason to
do so, by finding an objective excuse to maintain the status quo. And the
madness goes on....
I didn't seek to disappoint the ones who like quotations from books, their
books are still available.....
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