Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Pissing In the Wind

"The shadow gone autonomous is a terrible monster in our house..."
The Shadow by Robert Johnson

As children most us learn that you can't spit into the wind or throw sand into the wind; you get back the same result: it flies into your own face! But somewhere along the way to adulthood we seem very often to forget this truth. Many of us seek to level our relations with others by these very means. There are relatively few facts in the world; most are about nature herself. For example, day follows night and night evolves again into day; there is the sun and the moon and all the seasons exerting their force and pull upon earth and its inhabitants.

are airplanes, and then there are pilots; drivers who drive cars; wind and ice which foils them, sometimes with injurious or deadly results. We like to think of our self as master of all, in control. The sad fact of physics is that often we aren't. For many this provokes a deep anxiety or unconscious dread. We are protective, even defensive of ourselves and our positions. This often leads to a sort of self blindness, not unlike that experienced by the Emperor in the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Emperor's New Clothes. Regular readers here will recognize the theme...
Simple acknowledgment of our desire to make things safe for our self in relations with others goes a long way to enlightening the mind.

In the spiritual life, we seek to find a unity with these unacknowledged parts of ourselves, parts which often riotously erupt at sometimes the most inopportune, the most inconvenient moments. For some the solution, at least temporarily, is to squelch or sequester these emotions, this energy out of sight and effectively, out of mind.
"In the cultural process, we sort out our God given characteristics... we begin to divide our lives." This process Robert Johnson calls, 'shadow making' in his book, Owning Your Own Shadow.
Without some measure of self-regulation, routine social interactions would become potentially very messy on a very regular basis. However these now "forgotten" traits don't often slink away; instead they lay in wait for another time. Lying in the darkness of the anterior mind, the shadow strength builds. In some it provokes deep depression or anxiety, in others a general mental disorder.

There is the sorting process which we think of as culture, by which the facets of the accepted and unaccepted self are rendered either active or passive; the active parts we think of as personality and the inactive become unknown, or from time to time emerge as 'bad manners' which culture seeks to rope in and regulate.
Yet this sorting process is "quite arbitrary," Johnson observes. For the spiritual growth of a person in mid-life, the two must reconnect for a balance, for unity to arise.
The Hindus for example, acknowledge the presence of the gods of creation and destruction simultaneously. In Hinduism, the balance of these natural forces is called Ananda.
In the west, the word we use to describe this same process is religion, from the Latin, it means to re-relate, to put back together again, to restore. It is in this move towards restoration that our spiritual selves find rest, peace and balance of the whole.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Christianity and India

"Christians living in Kerala astutely relate the Christ to the Vedic tradition."

Christianity in India is about as old as Christianity itself. In the south, in the Tamil province, especially, the cult of the Christian is especially well developed. In parts of India it easily adopted the Brahminic mode of expression. Syrian Christians living in Kerala engage in casting their horoscopes for example, and astutely relate the life of the Christ to Vedic traditions. In some regard, Christian-ways in these regions are ubiquitous; in turn it gives culture to India.

 The deeply imbedded notion of the Avatar inspires many. Through divining the personality of the Christ, Indians see the Christ as something of a Supreme Being, incarnated, come to earth to save mankind. The idea of wrong, of sin is overlooked. In this type of salvation drama, Christ, the Avatar is most appealing. Sabrania Bharati, a Tamil poet of national prominence and a Shakti devotee wrote:

My Lord expired on the Cross
and ascended in three days.
Beloved Mary Magdalene
 saw this happen.
Friends! Here's the esoteric sense.
The gods will enter us
and guard us from all ills 
if we transcend pride.
Mary Magdalene is Love,
Jesus the Soul.
The outer evil destroyed,
the good life sprouts.
She praised the radiance 
in that golden face.
That was the love of Magdalene,
ah, what joy!
If Sense is bound to the Cross of Truth,
and crucified with nail austerity,
Jesus of the strengthened soul 
will rise as the boundless sky

Magdalene is Eternal Feminine,
Jesus Christ is deathless dharma,
Draw we close to the symbol:
look, an inner meaning glows.

The poet does not mean to give a philosophica
l view here. Instead he is deeply moved to record his experience in poetry, the song of words. Praising the image of the Christ upon the Cross, he attempts to reconcile this image with the sure knowledge of deep suffering, of passion. Why should there be so much suffering? Is the persecutor Pilate to be the ever source of this suffering? What remains now of godliness, of mercy, of holiness? The heart in ascension rises and opens to the eternal, to hope.

How, muses the poet, shall we coax, the Lord of Hosts to enter our consciousness, making us the carriers of the imperishable Dharma? With Mary Magdalene as love incarnate, love then is the entrailing of the gods to combine the human with Jivatman and Supreme, the Paramatman.
Where love is expressed, smallness falls away; there lives instead the Divine, for God is Love, we learn. The Supreme responds to the sincere strivings of the Human being.

Another Indian of great repute, Sri Aurobindo also felt the indescribable pull towards the imagery of  Christ upon the Cross. Affected by the story of The Divine Comedy,  Dante who remarks with simple clarity, 'in His will is our peace,' reflects the view of Aurobindo equally himself.
Aurobindo freely engaged the life and gospels of the Christ in his own writings. For Aurobindo, the Christ represented the ideal, the strivings of the One to completeness, to wholeness. The Avatar, he believed, was significant for man's spiritual progress, for his ultimate ascension. In his epic poem, Savitri, he writes about the Christ as Avatar in a step towards human unity.