A SMALL SELECTION OF FREELY PARAPHRASED HYMNS … contd
Source : Hymns of the Atharva Veda [ 1895 ] by Ralph T.H. Griffith
Vedas, Vedic Age and Vedic People : A Brief … contd
LIFE, DEATH & TRUTH – ( 1 )
Is there life after death ? “ What will happen to me after death ?”
These questions seem irrelevant while one is alive and doing well for oneself, in a position to power our way through life and the world before us. But then, who is to restrain us from being whimsical or cruel, unjust and uncaring ? It must be ourselves, for the law allows much in ethics and rarely concerns itself with the moral. And, scouring through history or looking about us for how resourceful people behave, it is easy to conclude that men are poor, almost disabled, at doing the job of keeping themselves under their own leash.
On the other hand, if it were established that there is life after death, that we shall be put to account for our actions in life, the knowledge would have a profound bearing on how we conduct ourselves here and now. The non-Vedic religions preach that this is the only life after which we shall have to wait in our grave for the day of judgement, when we shall be either sent to hell or heaven, where we shall be forever. There is no second chance for sinners. And, of course, it is the deemed “elders” of the respective religions who declare which of the two we are ! We might never know if the prophesied Day was a fact but the judgement of the clergy on terra firma s real and final.
However such a practice, and the belief behind it, raises serious questions :
What happens to those who perish in a fire, their bodies reduced to ashes ?
Would they escape the Day, the hell if they were sinners or heaven if they’ve been good ?
What happens to those who are cremated, in accord with rites in their belief system ?
There are other cries of the heart to consider, should we care to hear. For instance, if this is the only life we have, why should one be unjustly born in poverty, in extremely cold or hot climes, to parents who are cruel or careless, with one or more disability, and so on ? Some are born rich, some poor, some are healthy, others afflicted, some die at an early age than others; some suffer more than others; and some are naturally more moral and ethical in disposition. Why ? And, why should we love our neighbour or give a damn to compassion or kindness, ethics or morality, so long we do not trespass the law ?
Since, there are no causal explanations from facts we know or from the belief system we subscribe to, we declare that there are no reasons behind such iniquity. What it actually suggests is that there is no rational “field” we can grasp, which we can define and reduce it to mathematical propositions and deductions, that can then present to our view the iniquitous phenomena with all its cause and effect links.
A word about FACTS …
Things might be in books, papers, media, or other people’s minds.
Yet, it is YOU who is central to everything, including facts you are aware of.
Facts are truths of the moment, as it is in your insight and conviction.
Even whether a ‘story’ is complete, or not, is a matter of your perception.
Of course, it depends upon how much details you’ve gone on to acquire and place in your awareness, analysed it and obtained a consistent insight with a critical eye.
The elephant in the room can be known for what it is.
But it takes focus, the opposite of dissipation, and hell of a lot of going through.
We’ve generally lost the motivation for going after facts and the art of going through !
The belief system of the Vedic people does not have the limitations of the material reason of the thinking man. Instead of turning away from the wall it faces, the Vedic mind soars high above it, allowing the concrete obstruction to recede and disappear. It asks : What is that, knowing which all this is known ?
What the Vedic seers observed, proposed and concluded, are as follows :
01 There is a material world out there and this material body we each consider our own. More, the material minded and the materials scientists amongst us believe that the body is all we are; that, the material composition and constituents of the body not only explain everything we are but also define and determine everything we are.
02 But, nothing explains what constitutes the human mind as it is and the mental phenomena it occurs. What is “matter” that forms it ? What is its warp and woof ? We have never had the mind on a platter and experimented with it. Even in captivity, under extreme torture, the mind is able to retain its own non–material world of ideas, images and beliefs. The mind can be free of the body, can assess the body prompts – of hunger, sex, tiredness, etc. – and can overrule them. And, the exclusively material model does not explain our own being, the “person” we are. What is the “ I “ formed of and what constitutes the variety, extent and strength of “ideas, knowledge, values and convictions” we each are vested and vest ourselves with, when the body and its constituents are largely similar ?
03 Hence, the Vedic model conceives of different spaces, one subtler than the previous, somewhat similar to the arrangement we have in the material universe as well : solid, liquid, gas. They regard the material space as gross and derived from the subtle mental space, which pervades the material one, in the manner water pervades sand. The mental space in turn is more gross and derived from the more subtle causal space, which pervades both the mental and material spaces.
The three “Great Spaces” – material, mental and causal – are concomitant, co-existent and co-incident. one into the other, having entirely different natures and laws, and characterised with transformation of consciousness from its completely awake, witness nature in the causal space to fully asleep or dead forms in the material expanse.
During manifestation from “vanilla” space, which is commonly referred to as pure consciousness, the first projection is of causal space, followed by the mental, and that by the material. During dissolution, the order is reversed : first material, then mental and, lastly, causal.
04 Question : Since the three spaces co-exist, why are the causal and mental spaces not visible to us or not available for scientific observation and study ?
Answer : That is what their relative subtlety of nature and law dictates. An animal being identified with a material body, is an entity of the grossest space, having a nature in common with the material phenomena. It is hence claimed and bound by its laws, which forecloses access to the mental or causal universe. Its witnessing faculty are directed outwards, to observe and study matters respective to the material space alone. All its knowledge is in its instincts that naturally issue as its two principal drives – survival and perpetuation of its species.
Human beings have the same animal nature. But, over and above that, they can sense their experience and think about it. They can even sense and think about their own “ self.”
So, how do we validate the Vedic model ? Answer : by sheer observation, experience, understanding and insight.
Rocks do not sense, have no experience.
They also do not have a nourishing system.
Trees have a nourishing system. They can sense…
the need for chlorophyl, the presence and direction of sunrays, even music.
Snails have a nourishing system and the simplest of nerves.
They can sense and direct themselves along the motor drive.
Vertebrates have both : a developed nourishing system and a developed nervous system. But what marks them out is the brain. Higher vertebrates have developed brains and, among them, humans have the most developed brain than any species on the planet.
Validation of Vedic truths in our experience and direct perception starts with an appreciation of the fallacy behind the materialist assertion that ‘ the Brain is the Mind.’ The reason given is that if the brain is not working, damaged or dead, there is no mind. Besides, it is suggested that the presence of hormones in the body-mind complex determines the nature of the mind, because a strong correlation between the two has been observed. Let’s take up the second assertion first :
Suppose, the hormones in the body are found to co-exist with say, anger, a state of mind. How do we conclude that, therefore, mind is part of the body phenomena ? The individual mind is a form in the mental space in which anger is experienced. That experience is accompanied with presence of certain hormones in the brain. It is still possible for the mind to launch an anger management process and successfully quell it.
The ground for concluding that the brain is the mind, because the mind is damaged when the brain is or the mind is absent when the brain is cut-off or dead, is ludicrous. By that logic, the world is the eye because the damaged eye damages the world in our view and an absent eye makes the world disappear !
The fact is that every sense and all experiences take place in the mind, in the mental space. Inert matter, without life sustaining structure and processes, are not an individual being privy to happenings in the mental space, and are hence without the sense and experience we associate with individual consciousness.
Which is not to say that matter are anything apart from consciousness or are not pervaded by the causal and mental spaces. All the physical facts and laws which science has discovered, of energy and forces, potential and processes, of which matter from Higgs-Boson to heavenly bodies and terrestrial forms have come to be… all of these facts, laws and processes are nothing but knowledge, formed of consciousness.
There is no need to admit a Creator, posit a God outside of the Creation, in order to accept the nature of things as it is. All material bodies are formed of physical facts, and life forms of biological facts, which are nothing but knowledge coagulates formed in cosmic mind, in mental space, that are in turn derived from more fundamental knowledge forms arising as the universal cause, in the causal space.
But it took a human being to notice the truth he discovered of himself, and extrapolate the understanding that an individual life form is a node at which the mental space form – the mind – connects with the material body, of the gross space. As noted in our bulleted brief above, the higher vertebrates actually have “experience” proper and a sense of themselves and their environment, which are forms exclusively of the mental space. It is as if a developed nervous system opens an entrance for the “conscious” mind to flow into the body and pervade it. And, when headed by a fully evolved brain, the “conscious” individual self can actually climb up the nerves-brain ladder to enter its mind, the domain allotted to it in the mental space, to observe its experience, its body and the environment, and reflect upon them.
We think in the mind when we are awake and have the sense of the body and the environment. We dream in the mental space when we are no longer fettered by the limitations of the body or by fixations in the environment. The body is kept alive by vitality that conjoins the mind to the body. Our vitality is affected by the actions of the body, by what it eats and drinks, and by the actions in the mind as well, in how it thinks and what it knows. But its survival processes are automated and it is programmed to power the sexual drive for perpetuation of the species, in accord with cosmic knowledge coagulates in the living cells and largely independent of interventions by either the body or the mind.
One instance of Vedic truth, in apparent contrast to the scientific view, is in its detailing of the process of perception and cognition, essentially a mental phenomenon. It suggests that an object is not perceived merely because light rays reflected off it strike our retina and the image conjured travels to the brain, where it is interpreted. This is the material part of the process that is essential but not sufficient, as it proves in our experience. The mental part involves an “issuing out” of the mind through the eye organ to envelope the object in view and comparing the gathered features and attributes with the knowledge impressed in the mind from before, to finally determine the certain understanding of the object. It explains why, when absorbed in the mind, we do not perceive the object even though it is in full view; and, why a baby that has never known a cow will not perceive it as such.
It has been emphasised that every experience from without is fetched through the sense organs by vitality, which conjoins the material and the mental space, and is felt in the part of the mind most proximate to the overlap zone where vitality reigns. The feeling causes a sub-conscious reaction at first, in the form of an emotion happy or unhappy, depending upon whether the feeling is welcome or not. Concurrently, the vitalised mind throws up a will to act, to possess and indulge or to avoid and eliminate, as it serves our desire. Since action brings its consequence, an intelligent being subjects the “will to act” to some thinking and analysis in the light of awareness of the present environment and knowledge impressed from hearsay or its own experience in the past.
Most human beings are materialists, no matter how wholly subscribed we are to our religion or how high a degree we acquire in secular sciences or arts. We are the same thinking, reactive entities, propelled on impressions from our past even when we seem to be leading matters about our present. Every one these forming and self-qualifying impressions, inadequately dealt with in the gray haze of semi-consciousness when they occured, are very neatly stored in the mind-stuff, deep within the overlap zone between the mind and the body, well covered with the unceasing flow of vitality and far away from the view of mind-body being we are during our wakeful hours. What preoccupies us are a whole range of quest driven by our desires for survival, security, sensual and sexual experience, our sense of incompletion and inadequacy, our relationship with other objects, beings, persons and our self.
To Be Continued … alongwith the next installment of selections from Atharva Veda.