Vivek has been corresponding with a childhood friend for many years; a friend who is mostly suspicious and sometimes, dismissive of Vivek’s pursuits and labours in the spiritual arena. Why, petals are falling from his small home shrine daily, as he writes. Vivek is happy to share his knockabout and somewhat amusing introduction to the Vedas and Vedic Religion with his childhood friend, here, on the World Wide Web in this humble blog. So this day, we commence the Mists of Maya, Vivek’s letters to his childhood buddy.
My Dear Bala
Now that you’re determined to develop your spiritual instincts, the time has come to give you an overview of what it entails.
The basic tenet of all the Vedic teachings to which you will be exposed is that this is a sentient Universe. In other words, it is conscious, sensitive, perceptive and responsive, living intelligence.
Forget the nonsense you have been taught about God being anthropomorphic, that is, a grey-haired old fella floating in the clouds and holding out his finger to Adam as Michelangelo portrayed him on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. That’s fine for kids and Sunday School. We are going to be a bit more exact than that.
In ancient Vedic philosophy, all matter that exists within the Universe is energy. Every blade of grass, every cell within all animate as well as inanimate things, every drop of water, every atom of all matter is pure energy. This has been in recent times confirmed by science, with Einstein and his e=mc2 theory. In Vedic teachings, there is nothing in existence that is that is not energy, which is called Shiva in the language of the Vedas.
Shiva is not a grey-haired old pervert floating up there and sneakily spying on you and me and everybody else. Shiva is the formless, pure, loving, unimaginably intelligent, thinking ENERGY that permeates the cosmos. Shiva is the all-pervading, awesome vitality extant in all that exists, even in the great voids of space and within atoms.
Sophisticated people can understand this, more or less, but not everybody can, for the simple reason that our IQ’s vary. We’re not all on the same mental and evolutionary level, so how does one convey this intellectual concept to a less-evolved soul in a way that he or she can comprehend? It was imperative to find a way, for it is in uplifting others that group enlightenment comes.
This is where the sages who have always guided mankind come in. Some great sage of eons past pondered this very real problem and came up with a solution. He called in the most respected sculptor of the time, a silent, reserved man of great perspicacity, and explained the abstract concepts he wished to convey, suggesting the use of a form that everybody, even total dummies, could understand: the human figure.
The sage explained that using the human form, the sculptor had to convey the concepts of the Universe within which the elements of air, ether, water, fire, earth and the atomic elements of matter such as exist on earth as well as the human emotional elements of ignorance, compassion, unconditional love and equanimity are portrayed as though in eternal, rhythmic interaction.
Tough one this, but the sculptor listened carefully then took leave of the sage to go into the forest to fast, perform certain other austerities, meditate in seclusion and call for Divine help. This was the accepted way, for the Vedic peoples were in tune with the Universe. The sentient Universe, they knew, always answered the sincere Seeker.
The sculptor emerged from the forest a week later and went in deep thought to his workshop by the river. His assistants brought river clay, and as though in a trance,he started his work on a figure. He transformed the picture that had come into his mind in his week of silent meditation into the clay beneath his deft fingers. Slowly, a superb human form emerged, tall and slender, with the typically sharply-cut features of the Dravidian Caucasian.
The great surprise was that it was not a static figure. It was an exquisitely graceful form frozen in a rhythmic dance-step. It so clearly showed constant movement, suggesting all the elements within the Universe vibrating through its eternal song, OM, for one of its four hands held a conch shell symbolising that very sound. The greatest surprise was that it also clearly alluded to the human element of ignorance yet above it all, compassion and forgiveness, those essential aspects of unconditional love.
The sage was called to inspect the first clay form. He saw that it depicted all the elements he had stipulated. The sculptor had succeeded superbly in materializing the philosophical concepts of the sage’s description. He had translated into tangible form not only the Vedic notion of a sentient Universe but the abstract concept of the karmic imperative of all life to evolve through the accumulation of knowledge in a benevolent ambiance in which love was the binding factor.
So emerged the greatest work of symbolic sculpture ever created by the mind of man, the Dancing Nataraja, to enchant and guide the Vedic peoples throughout their incredibly long journey across untold eons of existence since the advent of man on this planet.
In this ethos of eternal cosmic benevolence, you will be guided towards the spiritual knowledge that you seek. There is no compunction for you to commit to any aspect of these teachings. You are free to accept or reject whatever emerges from these tutorials. You are requested only to carefully consider all that emerges. Turn it over in your mind with equanimity; in time your Higher Mind will show you the validity or otherwise of whatever has been conveyed to you.
You do not have to commit to a system of religious practice; there will be no church, priestly hierarchy or dogma: you will be free to adjust and modify whatever may be presented to you to fit into your perceptions, remembering always that you are free to conceive the existence of God in any way that suits you best.
It is respectfully requested only that you understand that you are eternal cosmic spirit on a journey of self-discovery on this earth plane and that your presence on earth in this lifetime is only one of numerous, repetitious visits, that you make these visits only because you are in search of yourself,that the body that you occupy in each visit is not the real you but only your temporary earth vehicle of convenience and that once it has served its purpose, you will cast it off and continue your existence in other realms until it is time to occupy yet another disposable earth body, that the real you is the Atman – soul – within your earth body that it is essentially the essence of a wondrous, loving Universe, that you are on a journey of self-realization through the mists of maya – forgetfulness – that this writer is your humble guide in this stage of your journey. You are assured that eventually, with diligence, you will break through the enveloping mists of illusion to reach your true destination.
If you agree to these easy stipulations, climb aboard and enjoy the ride.You are free to do whatever you may wish with the knowledge that will flow from these lessons. Rest assured that there are no conditions and obligations. Rather than lead you into any commitment, what you will learn will take you to the portals of eternal life within an indescribably wondrous universe of countless worlds in endless galaxies.
If you do this with love and sincerity, at the end of it all, you will realise that YOU yourself are the entity that man calls God.
This is what self-realisation is all about.
With love and light always,