Another set of questions and their respective answers:
Q: What is the use of spiritual practices as far as Self-realization is concerned?
A: I will explain this in a double manner so aspirants will be able to understand my answer:
- From the Self’s viewpoint, there is never “someone” in bondage that needs to get Final Liberation.
- From the limited individual’s viewpoint, there is really “someone” in bondage that needs to get Final Liberation.
In the first case, as the Self is always a dense mass of Freedom and Bliss, He never sees people in bondage and consequently the entire concept of Final Liberation is nonexistent to Him. Freedom from bondage is only significant from the viewpoint of a limited individual or atomic self. The Self is beyond mind, while the limited individual is completely identified with his mind. Therefore, the latter cannot understand the former unless he realizes Him. But again, Self-realization occurs only by His Grace and not otherwise. This is puzzling to an ordinary mind and even to that of a spiritual aspirant who is not advanced. All this apparent confusion due to the incapacity of the aspirant’s mind causes many doubts in the form of: “If there is no bondage according to the Self, what is the point of doing this practice?” and the like. The spiritual aspirants, whether they are beginners or middle ones, are constantly with this confusion in their minds. But an advanced aspirant has no confusion about the Self. This is why he is an advanced disciple.
So, on one hand, according to the Self all these aspirants practicing are just Himself killing time while waiting for His own Revelation. And on the other hand, the spiritual aspirants are performing practices in order to realize their Self. Both viewpoints are true in their corresponding contexts.
A: This is exactly what I was saying before. It is the way the mind of a neophyte in spirituality thinks about the Self, Final Liberation and all that. The mind of such an aspirant is like that of an ordinary person but a little more polished. Anyway, as he is not an advanced aspirant, he is still caught in such logic. A gross mind always thinks in terms of “Yes or No”. For example, if a doubt arises about a criminal: “Is this person a sinner?” the gross mind is always caught in two possible answers: “Yes” or “No”. In this case “Yes” would be its most probable reply. But when the same doubt arises in a mind who has been polished adequately, i.e. in the subtle mind of an advanced aspirant, the answer is “Yes and No”. Why? Because there is never an “absolute” sinner, viz. someone whose actions are constantly sinful. So, if he were to say “Yes”, that would not be completely true because that criminal now and then surely does actions that are not sinful. At the same time, if he were to say “No”, it would be a lie because such a person certainly does sinful actions. As a result, his answer is “Yes and No”.
And if the Self could be asked, He would not have any type of answer, because there was never “someone” other than Himself. The concepts of criminal, sinner, virtuous, mixture of sinful and virtuous, etc. do not exist in His Abode. Moreover, the one asking is also the Self and consequently the entire situation of asking Him about Himself is entirely irrelevant. Differences only arise in the arena of the mind (gross or subtle) and never in Him, who is completely devoid of all thought activity.
For all those reasons, for Him there is no obstacle in attaining Final Liberation. At the same time, there is no reason for abandoning bondage, because it is nonexistent according to Him. This truth is crucial in Trika.
Q: Does it mean that all my efforts in the spiritual path could go down the drain just like that?
A: On one hand, according to Him, there is no need to make effort because there is never bondage and therefore there is no need for Final Liberation. But on the other hand, according to the aspirants in bondage, they must make effort to achieve Final Liberation through His Grace. Both viewpoints are right. In the end, even the aspirant is Him appearing as a limited individual in search of Himself. As this is beyond the sphere of gross or subtle mind, it is very difficult to understand. It is not about understanding by mind but about realization by His Grace.
For example, in a computer, the chip communicated by 0’s (off) and 1’s (on). The chip has no idea about buttons, menus, taskbars, word processors, etc. All these things are important to the user who is generally unable to talk to the chip directly in 0’s and 1’s. As an example: a user needs to press a button in order to print a document, but the chip only deals with strings of 0’s and 1’s. As the chip is not a human being, it does not need human language. At the same time, the user (the human being), most cases will need “a very human way” to interact with the chip because all those insane strings of 0’s and 1’s are not at all user-friendly. By “a very human way” I mean buttons, menus, programs, etc. Imagine me writing this article in crazy strings of 0’s and 1’s and not through this superb stylish interface full of boxes, buttons, menus, etc. It would quite a nightmare. In the same way, as most spiritual aspirants cannot understand their own Self yet, they need practices (i.e. buttons, menus, boxes, etc.) in order to deal with the Self.
Surprisingly, all that is really unnecessary because they are the Self constantly. This is His mystery. He is everybody but at the same time He remains hidden from almost everybody. Why? He DOES NOT want to be revealed. People go into strange explanations in order to shed light on the subject of bondage and Liberation, but in the end it is the Self saying “I want” or “I do not want”. There are no obstacles at all to Him, because He is all those obstacles too. Obstacles, such as notion of differences, notion of doership and notion of being imperfect, besiege spiritual aspirants all the time. But such notions are not obstacles to Him because He is one with them. Hence He is always unobstructed. While the limited individual strives to crawl up to Him, He strides up to the limited individual right away, and the latter gets completely liberated instantly “for no apparent reason”.
A: Because He is like that. In the concept of most aspirants except the advanced ones, He is still subject to the law of Karma (cause/effect). Of course, those aspirants do not say so literally, but they think that way. For example: “I will attain Him through my practice of repeating this mantra”. Here the practice of repeating a mantra would be the cause and Self-realization would be the effect. But this is true only in the sphere of the mind of such an aspirant. I mean, this is not an absolute Truth. The absolute Truth is always His, and it is something like this: “I will emerge when I just feel like doing so. Meanwhile I will remain hidden here in my Abode for another while”. That “while” can be from 1 millisecond to eons since time is irrelevant in His case.
When He emerges, that is Final Liberation for the time He remains emerged. Nobody ever knows whether He will remain emerged or hidden forever. Egos need reasons to do this or that, but He does not need any reason to emerge or remain hidden. This Truth about Him is only understood by an advanced spiritual aspirant who would be like an engineer dealing with the chip almost directly, i.e. without using buttons, menus, boxes and so on like other users. When this advanced aspirant realizes the Self, he becomes the chip itself and starts to speak in 0’s and 1’s. This is superhuman..
Again, if that liberated one becomes a guru or spiritual teacher, he will have to find another way of communicating with spiritual aspirants, because they do not understand his 0’s and 1’s. For this reason, if the guru is too elevated he is useless as a guru of other people simply because he sees no bondage and therefore the respective Liberation. To play the role of guru, he has to come down a little to where he is able to see aspirants in bondage needing his help.
Q: But what is the use of being a guru or an aspirant when everybody is the Self already?
A: What you say is like saying: “What is the use of this rain when the water falling is the same water that went up and formed clouds? Why doesn’t all this water simply remain on the ground and that is it?” It is the way Mother Nature functions. Likewise, all things related to a guru appearing and helping aspirants is the way He functions. It is His Play. When you say that “everybody is the Self”, this is a great truth, but is there an actual realization of that truth? Generally there is not. So, it is as if you were not the Self really. And why don’t people realize their Self? Because He does not want them to realize Him. Only one among millions of people will realize the Self. Why? Because He wishes so. It is very simple to understand, but ego just cannot tolerate the fact that the things are so simple. As ego is like that, it is given other reasons for the absence or presence of Self-realization (a.k.a Final Liberation). All these reasons are too valid but only in the case of an aspirant and not in the case of the Self as I explained before. For example:
“When an aspirant reaches the right quantity of merit and experience, it is very likely that he will realize the Self.”
That is true from the viewpoint of an aspirant. However, from the viewpoint of the Self, there is no need of accumulating merit and experience because He is Full to the maximum. Another example of good reasons for the maintenance/dissolution of bondage:
“Self-realization will not dawn on an aspirant till his system is ready for such Revelation.”
That is true too “from the viewpoint of an aspirant”. Nonetheless, from the standpoint of the Self, the system gets ready instantly if He decides to emerge. There are many other truths that are true only in the context of a spiritual aspirant but not from the viewpoint of the Self. For example:
“Meditate on your inner Self!”
That is a valid command for most aspirants except the advanced ones, because from the viewpoint of the Self, He is inside, outside and beyond space too. This is divine. So, let the human truths dwell with the human beings and let the divine truths dwell in the Divine!
Q: What is the role of a human guru?
A: The Divine is like the main chip of a computer, always speaking in divine ways only understandable to Himself. The only difference would be that the main chip of a computer is manufactured by someone else while the Self is self-existent. A human guru is like the operating system of a computer. If you could understand the chip of your computer, you could communicate with it by 0’s and 1’s all day long. But this is not possible for most mortals on this planet. As a result, you need an operating system acting as a translator. If you would turn on your computer only to see that the entire desktop is full of insane strings of 0’s and 1’s, that would spoil your day. Even the welcome screen would look like a nightmare. But the operating system translates all those insane strings of 0’s and 1’s into human language and nice buttons, menus, icons, etc. So, you can interact with your computer in a friendly manner.
In the same way, a human guru is someone who can understand Gurú (the Self in Grace mode, as I explained in a previous article) and make His messages understandable to the aspirants. For example, let us take the following stanza extracted from a scripture written by a great saint. In this stanza there is a teaching coming directly from the Divine. This teaching is not “clearly” explained in any commentary I have read so far. Evidently, the commentators did not want to reveal its full meaning. It occurs in Spandakārikā-s I.8:
“This (limited individual) does not direct or drive the goad of desire. But yet, by getting in touch with the Force or Power of the Self, (that) person becomes equal to That||8||”
Now, when a spiritual aspirant reads that stanza, he could think that “perhaps” something is wrong there because the logic is not looking good. By “That”, the Power of the Self is indicated… good, but that part about the limited individual does not look consistent with the final statement, i.e. the stanza should have been written like this according to that spiritual aspirant:
“This (limited individual) does not direct or drive the goad of desire. But yet, by getting in touch with the Force or Power of the Self, (that) person can direct or drive the goad of desire||8||”
Now it looks coherent according to him. Anyway, the scripture is not saying that! Assuming the role of human guru (like an operating system) now, I will explain to the reader the hidden meaning of the stanza. Possibly, it is the first time someone “writes” about it in the entire human history (and I am not joking). These things are generally kept in secrecy for reasons the reader does not need to know right now. Even the sage Kṣemarāja is not explaining it very clearly in his commentary but in a veiled way. I am making the meaning of this stanza clear by my direct experience with the Self (the main chip in the example). My explanation will be practically an expansion of my previous exposition about sense organs and sense goddesses, which occurred in the last article.
As I explained in that article, there are two groups:
- A group composed of sense organs such as eyes, ears, etc.
- A group consisting of the sense goddesses who make those sense organs work as they should
The organs are inanimate while the sense goddesses or deities are alive (i.e. they are divine). Suppose that there is a family made up of husband, wife and son. The husband is the Self, the wife is the Power of the Self and the son is the limited individual. The son is always at the mercy of his mother. This mother feeds, caresses and punishes him all the time. This is why he is a “limited” individual who is incapacitated to become free from this bondage imposed by his own mother. But, one day, his father decides to get involved in this situation and says: “Woman, stop the punishment and only show your favorable aspect to him”. That is a good way to describe how the Self mixes His Grace or divine Benevolence with the Power of the Self.
Now, the son or limited individual is always unable to direct or drive the goad of desire, i.e. he cannot control his senses’ desire of seeing, touching, hearing, etc. because all of these are under the control of his mother (the wife). The wife is full of different aspects. One of those aspects consists of the sense goddesses. Then, these deities are also the “wife” (the mother of the limited individual). As he is her son, he cannot control her ever. Limited individuals are receiving love, punishment and so on from their own mother all day long. They cannot control her because they are in the category of “sons” and not “husband”. But one day, the husband intervenes to stop their suffering and respective limitation. This is His Grace bestowal on a limited individual (His son).
Therefore, this limited individual who can never direct or drive his senses because they are under the control of the sense goddesses (an aspect of his own mother), by the Grace of his father, bypasses the activity of his senses and gets connected directly with the goddesses (his mother) with the help of his father (the Self in Grace mode) who commanded her not to punish this little son any more. His mother is pure Bliss at all times and consequently this limited individual gets in touch with her Bliss while she, in the form of sense goddesses, controls the senses and their activities. The limited individual is no more interested in the futile activity of trying to control his senses because it is his mother the real Doer always. The Power of the Self is doing everything constantly. No limited individual has ever done anything on his own, because such a conditioned individual is an invention of the Power of the Self, viz. he is the “son” of the Power of the Self.
When this limited individual gets connected with the mother directly, bypassing the sense objects and the respective sense activities, he becomes immensely Blissful because his mother is all possible Bliss. When he embraces his mother that way and enjoys her Love, the father also approaches and embraces them both. This is the achievement of Final Liberation and only happens when the husband intervenes in the relationship between mother and son. If he does not command her wife that way, the son remains always at the mercy of all that his mother wants to give him (caresses or punishment, for example). But when the husband decides that “it is enough”, spiritual enlightenment occurs and the son becomes completely free from the caprices of his mother.
That was just an example, with all the imperfections to be found in mere examples. Anyway, it is handy in showing how these processes work. Now, how is the experience of the limited individual when he gets connected with his mother who is pure Bliss? He says:
“Let these sense goddesses feast themselves on all these objects! If they want to see this, let them see this, and if they want to hear that, let them hear that. Let all of them delight in their respective objects whenever they wish. Even the other deities dwelling in the mind, such as the goddesses called fear, sadness, cheerfulness, disappointment, enthusiasm and so on can also feast themselves on all those various feelings. While these goddesses are delighting in their objects, I will get directly connected with all of them by the Grace of my own Self and enjoy the eternal Bliss coming from this group of goddesses.”
All those goddesses are his own mother (the Power of the Self, which is Full Bliss). When he enjoys Bliss, this is a clear indication that he became “equal to That”, as the stanza reads. He “got in touch” with the Power of the Self (the Force of the Self) directly by His Grace and the ex-limited individual became one with Him, because the Self and the Power and the Self are one and the same thing.
That ex-limited individual is a liberated one. If he retains his body, he is called “liberated while living”. His state is human/divine.
A: Because that person lets all those goddesses feast themselves on their objects, be they are external objects or inner feelings. As he realized he cannot control them because the Power of the Self is the real Controller, he just allows the sense deities to do whatever they want. Therefore, he will experience delight, joy, peace, sadness, fear, disappointment, enthusiasm, etc., because the goddesses are delighting in all that, but at the same time he will be extremely Joyful because of his becoming one with the Force of the Self. As all those goddesses are aspects of the Force or Power of the Self, when he becomes one with the latter he becomes one with the former and vice versa. In the end, he is equal to That since the Power of the Self is always one with the Him.
As a result, his behavior is puzzling to an ordinary human being because he is glad while seeing “this” but extremely Joyful at the same time; because he is sad while experiencing “that” but extremely Joyful at the same time; because he gets seriously disappointed while feeling “this” but at the same time he is delighting in the greatest Joy. His condition cannot be understood by any ordinary mind, because it works based on “Yes or No”. However, that person is the very embodiment of “Yes and No” at all times. He is sad and Blissful, glad and Blissful, disappointed and Blissful, afraid and Blissful, enthusiastic and Blissful and so on. He can lose all his possessions and experience tremendous affliction, but at the same time he is extremely Blissful due to his connection with the Force of the Self. Or else, he can be extremely glad because he has become the owner of the entire world. However, along with that joy he is constantly drinking the most Sublime Nectar of Joy.
A liberated person is not like an ordinary person only “reloaded”. For example, an ordinary mind thinks that a liberated one is someone who is never sad, never disappointed, never afraid, never loses, etc. NO. A liberated person is a mixture of human and divine. He totally behaves like a human, but simultaneously he is completely absorbed in the Highest Delight. This is superhuman, because no usual human being could be very sad and Blissful simultaneously. All the limited individuals are always dependent on external circumstances for their joy, but the liberated one has autonomous Joy which is the fruit of His Grace. The Self mixes His Grace with the His Power and this person feels all that the group of goddesses (forms of the Power of the Self) brings to him (cheerfulness, enthusiasm, fear, amazement, etc.) but simultaneously he realizes his own Self and feels absolutely Joyful.
Therefore, the stanza I quoted condenses the entire process of how to attain Final Liberation. I worshiped that stanza for a long time until I squeezed the last drop of its wisdom. What else might I say about it then? Let the stanza and the great sage who composed it be praised forever!