The word vidya means knowledge or self-understanding. Avidya means ignorance. Avidya refers to ignorance about one’s own nature. If one doesn’t understand about one’s own nature then one’s life becomes fragmented due to identification with that which is limited or partial. If I do not comprehend what life is and what the suchness or isness of life is, then I become identified with the partial. The word suchness is used in Mahayana Buddhism. The word isness or beingness is used in Vedanta.
If the beingness of the awareness as the energy of intelligence is not perceived or intuited, then it is possible that you will think “I am the body and the body is me”. Then there is wrong identification. You are then identified with the partial. It is a wrong equation and a wrong identification. However at the same time, without the body the essence as the energy of intelligence cannot manifest itself. The manifestation of this intelligence requires form. The very expression requires the form and the form is part of the intelligence. But it is like the skin of the fruit.
The word Asmita has been translated generally as ego or the “I” centre. This “I” or “me” has only ideational or vibrational reality. Even though there is no “I” in the body, it is composed of the conceptual conditionings and programming which have a vibrational existence permeating the body. So asmita is this identification with the ideational structure or programming. If avidya is the confusing of the essence of being with something it is not (ie. the body) then asmita refers to the identification of conceptual ideation with the essence of being.
As a consequence we identify the wholeness of life with an idea or with the concept of me and all the beliefs, ideas and complexities involved in that. So this concept of me around which your life revolves becomes like a point in geometry. If you try to define that point, you can’t. It’s not really there but it appears to be. In reality there is a movement of knowledge but without a knower. There is the movement of experiencing without an experiencer.
Positive and negative energy
The word deva refers to luminous or light energy. In modern terminology we might refer to this psychologically as positive energy. The word asura means heaviness or darkness. So you might describe this as negative energy. So the terms deva and asura do not refer to entities living somewhere but refer to the functioning of energies in the physiological and vibrational psychic structure of the body as well as in the cosmos generally. The asuras as the energies of heaviness and darkness express themselves as disorder, disharmony and fragmentation. The devas are the positive energies which are harmonious and which are implicit in the natural order of the cosmos. The asuras represent imbalance or a falling away from this implicit natural order. So this is reflected in the human being and human society when life is turned into a battleground where the forces of harmony and disharmony play out.
This is metaphorical language. Heaven and hell are not places up in the sky. All the heavens and hells exist right here. You can either convert the energy that is available to you into the negative energies of disorder and disharmony or you can turn them into positive and creative energies which enhance and enrich the harmony of the cosmos. That is your choice. That is why the human form is called unique and the human faculties are unique. The human being has this extraordinary faculty of being able to realize the positive energies that are implicit in the cosmos as divinity.
The relationship that one has with the cosmos is one of receiving. The human being receives the energies of the cosmos. There is an abundance of energy all around. So one has to learn to receive and contain these energies. This is to live in communion with the cosmos mentally, sensually and also sexually. But in order to live in communion one has to be in tune with the energies of the cosmos and so there needs to be harmony. And then one can say that one is a lover of life.
So we have to learn to be in tune with the unlimited creativity of the cosmos. That learning and adjusting never comes to an end. To be alive is a journey of learning and the enrichment of harmony and order. There is no end. That is why life is worth living to the very last breath when the prana is returned to the emptiness of space. Until that moment one’s responsibility is to receive and share the organic intelligence of the cosmos and to use it fruitfully to enrich the harmony and order of the cosmic life manifest on this planet that one is a part of.
The material universe is constituted out of innumerable energies. When they have the aspect of solidity, we call them matter. When they are non-solid they can be called energy. The whole universe is really a field of the interplay and interaction of energy. It is the cosmic dance of life.
If you observe all the changes around you will see that everything, as the play of energies, is in a constant state of flux. All of the life around you on the material level is an endless torrent of change. So don’t try to impose any theories or permanency on this vortex of change and don’t try to arrest it either.
What is all important is to learn to live in harmony with the cosmos which includes all forms of life. Harmony is the proof of intelligence. Thought can create imbalance and disharmony but intelligence leads towards harmony. Thought wants to divide and assert but intelligence is fulfilled in being. The manifestation of intelligence is always love and harmony.
Balance is the art of moderation. Moderation has nothing to do with vows. It is not a prison house of musts and must nots or oughts and ought nots. It is the art of living without compulsions or rigid frameworks to which you are bound. Because as soon as you bind yourself to some conduct or discipline or belief you are blocking the flow of the natural creativity of intelligence which flows through you. Moderation allows for the natural conservation of vital energy. So balance is how you conserve vitality.
There is nothing wrong with pleasure. We have beautiful senses that operate through the sophisticated organism of the human body. The eyes see colours and beautiful shapes. And so there is a spontaneously arisen pleasure in each moment. However if you want that pleasure to be continued and you run after it or try to re-create it, then you are just sowing the seeds of your own disappointment. In itself the contact of the faculty of sight with the various colours and forms allows for the perception of beauty. There are the beautiful flowers, the rose and the lotus, with their scents and fragrances that relax, invigorate and enliven the energy centres of the body. So there is a natural spontaneously arisen reciprocal pleasure that arises. It is only when wanting the repetition of that pleasure that you chase after it in order to re-create it that the problem arises. Then you want to capture the object or the individual that has given rise to that pleasure. So you want to own it, possess it, exploit it and retain it for yourself to the exclusion of others. That’s how all the attachment, disappointment and misery gets created.
Happiness as joy is wholeness because happiness indicates harmony. Unless there is harmony in your relationship with yourself and with the universe, you cannot be happy. There is a sense of fulfilment or completeness that is involved in happiness and joy. You may well enjoy pleasure but you may still not be happy. You may have the physical conveniences that wealth might confer but this won’t make you happy. You may have the influence of power or recognition by others but this won’t deliver you with the joy of happiness that I’m talking about. That’s because this natural joy is related to inner harmony. It is the harmony of the physiological and psychological within and the energetic universe without. Harmony is balance and balance is health. Without this delicate balance there is no happiness.
The mantra OM is the expression of this harmonic balance. It’s an exclamation of joy and prosperity. I don’t mean the prosperity of money in a bank account. This is the wealth of joy. When there is sensitivity, care, concern and love there is prosperity. It is the prosperity of the physiological and psychological structure. We might say that it is psychic wealth.
In the human body it is prana as the vital breath or life force which enables the body to move and function. When the vital breath is gone the body no longer moves. By way of analogy, like the prana in the body, the sun is burning and this brings prosperity or well-being to the planet. When the crops grow and trees grow and the flowers blossom there is prosperity. Prosperity as well-being is a word that expresses life. You may have a huge bank balance and that’s your wealth but it has nothing to do with prosperity. The content of prosperity is happiness and joy.
If the mind is balanced and there is equipoise amidst the ever changing relationships of life, then that inner peace is the prosperity of the mind. Human life must have prosperity and happiness otherwise it is not worth being called human. Misery and suffering is not the destiny of mankind. Misery is caused by ignorance of the correct relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm. In other words it is imbalance. So we must rediscover our relationship with the cosmos and reorganize the way we live so that there is prosperity and love in the psycho-physical organism. The cosmic order and harmony manifest in human life and relationship in is the expression of inner-prosperity.
The sun brings about the prosperity of nature. When the sun shines plants grow and the birds sing. In the human body it is prana that brings prosperity. If the prana is weak there is no appetite for life. The movement of prana is intricately related with the functioning and movements of all the organs and limbs of the body. If the prana is not circulating properly due to blockages then there is heaviness in the whole psycho-physical organism. Just as nature becomes somber and heavy when the sun doesn’t shine, in the same way when the prana is not circulating properly the person becomes heavy and depressed. When the movement of prana through the body is clogged, the body becomes heavy and lethargic. The mood becomes dark and the mind does not work clearly. Then the quality of attention is damaged and sensitivity is benumbed. Prosperity is lost.
The responsibility of the human race is to be in contact with the cosmos sensually and to be in communion with the cosmic energies mentally. To be in unity with the cosmic intelligence through awareness, that is Brahman. Unity between the microcosm and the macrocosm is through awareness. So communion takes place through the faculties of thought and feeling and the senses which are in contact with the earth, the oceans, the mountains and the other living beings. This is called being in communication with the cosmos. So the manifestations of intelligence are wholeness, happiness and contentment. Where the relationship between human beings and the cosmos is in balance the result is harmony.
Since human beings are gifted with intelligence there is a great responsibility to be in harmony with the cosmos. The planet must be respected. Food needs to be grown properly. The rivers and oceans must be kept unpolluted. The skies need to be kept clean and free of pollutants. There is the responsibility not to distort space through wrong kind of relationship. The sound energy needs to be used properly. If the human race insults nature and pollutes the rivers and the oceans then there is cosmic disorder. So if we do not discharge this responsibility towards the cosmos then there is imbalance, disharmony and misery.
The sun that never sets
If we look at things clearly, even though we talk of sunrises and sunsets, the sun never rises and the sun never sets. The sun never rises and the sun never sets, the sun knows neither day nor night. The sun being light is always radiating light, it never knows of such a thing as darkness. The sun is always radiating warmth so it never knows what is coldness. In the same way within the body there is a light that never sets and a space that can never be destroyed. When the form of the body disaggregates you call it death but there is only the dissolution of the form. However space can never be dissolved and so it is called the nectar of immortality.
The space within as the soundless sound is that immortality. One who knows that inner space or akasha understands that there can be no such thing as destruction or death. There is only change and the dissolution of outer form. There is the emergence of form and the merging back of form through dissolution into the ocean of emptiness. The dissolution of form should not be equated with the absence of life.