The journey back to Godhead discussed in the previous part does not automatically happen in the course of life mundane, ever. There is no cause in the world, no phenomenal experience that, of itself, will trigger reversal of the object orientation of the individual self. On the other hand, the causal roots of individual being and its orientation are diverse and many, fathomless and deep, and inscrutably embedded at its source.
Karma eases the hold of attachments (or revulsions) a person has for objects in his world : people and things, what they mean to him and yield to his joy and pleasure or fear and pain. That easing of its bondage is in effect a slowing of the speed and intensity with which the individual self is preoccupied, overwhelmed and taken over, and reoccupied with its transactional associations in the mundane. Delinking of thought and concern from the result, except through the period when one exerts the goal focused effort, spells freedom : the effect affords time to the individual self to remain unoccupied, engage non transactionally, or study and reflect. While it prepares the domain bound self for its reorientation, which is still just a theoretical possibility at this stage, the taste of enhanced freedom and unburdened being gives a filip to its contrarian desire to turn away from its preoccupying world and weaken the engaging force of this hunger-satisfaction-dissatisfaction routine. The need for turnaround deepens and becomes a serious work in progress. But the seed of what to turn to, in which direction, remains undefined.
The secular nature of karma intervention by the individual self, to invest wholly in the effort and free itself of any attachment to the result, fruit or consequence, is only apparent. There is no secular, worldly cause for the individual to intervene thus except through the appeal we encounter in Vedic texts, heard or read. There are sayings in the Upanishads, the Gita speaks of it, and people have traditionally followed the advisory but not without heeding the exhortation to remember the Creator or keep the Godhead in mind.
On this Karma prepared ground, the three other comprehensive disciplines contribute with respective chart of their independent paths, to complete the turnaround and head toward the Godhead. Of the three, we were introduced to RajaYoga in the previous part.
The respective goals of Yoga (Patanjal), Bhakti (Love and Devotion) and Gyana (Knowledge of the True nature of the Self) are : to experience, merge in, and identify with the Godhead. However, the eternal epiphany of the self identified with the Godhead is an integral one, in which all three explicit goals at once concur.
This all subsuming destiny is not only the common goal of all three paths but of every speck in creation and all life everywhere. The projection of the universe, consequent to the Nescient dream adjunct in which the true nature of Consciousness Pure reflects, must end in its absolute withdrawal when the dream ends. All material adjuncts gross and subtle, stellar and terrestrial, of living and inert beings, will revert to Nesceience and disappear without a trace. All individual selves will be one with the Godhead as it sheds the memory, of being Consciousness Pure, for the real thing it ever is.
There is an overarching sattva nature already upon individuals who resolve to turnaround and reorient themselves towards the Godhead in right earnest. But their predominant natures are not lost and continue to manifest in individual’s aptitude and inclined preference for the path best suited to it. Hence the three options corresponding to Sattva (Knowledge), Rajas (Devotion) and Tamas (Yoga) natures of the individual self. It must be remembered however that none of these natures would fructify into spiritual fullness without the overarching sattva that arises of love for freedom of one’s self and the individual’s firm resolve to choose such freedom over material fruits of its efforts, again and again. The three paths to raise the self to the Godhead are distinct.
Yoga is a rigorous science and demands a temper to constantly observe, review, repeat and determine facts pertaining to experience of the self, factors external to self that affect it, and wakefulness to pare being of all adjunct desires and drives, relatedness and relationship, bounds of form (or body), spatial limitations of insight, and this preoccupying transience amove in perception that binds awareness to time. The primary objective is not research, though inevitable, but the search for that stillness where all motion in body and mind comes to absolute stop, purified of all memory and identity supports, leaving the self aware of itself as it is.
Bhakti is the path through love and devotion of the self to name and form, and apparent presence and deeds of the Godhead, diversely described and profusely narrated in Vedic scriptures. Visits to temples, as terrestrial abodes of Godhead, and to locations considered hallowed and sacred are prescribed must-do for those who choose to pursue this way. Motion of the body and mind is not explicitly barred but subsumed in service to the deity, making single minded, unshakeable attachment for the Godhead sine qua non to being itself in one’s each breath, step, act, speech, thought, and leisure. Love for God, for his name, form and deed alone is necessary and sufficient to progress on the path, not reason or logical consistency or witness consciousness. It is enough to live in God, for God and by God. The duality of being, as self and God, is necessary, needed and permanent in the belief system associated with the way.
Gyana, the way through reason and knowledge, is not concerned with experienced stillness of mind or acts of devotion. There is a single question seeded in discrimination : is the nature of thing in perception self or non-self ? It methodically denies in perception to sweep it clean, at times brutally, of all substances within and without that are not essential to or a constituent of the self. Not this, not this, is the constant echo in mind for all objects, gross thing or subtle substance, taken one by one into one’s inquiry. No matter, not the body, not the vitality, not the mind, not the intellect, and not even the egoism, so the chain proceeds in witness consciousness. Its only positive affirmation is for Consciousness Pure, which alone proves true and hence real till the very end; and for the eternally reasoned realisation : “I am That;” “That Thou Art;” “All This is That;” and “That is Existence, Knowledge, Bliss Infinite.”
As stated however, the distinctive nature of the three paths blur and overlap, or relate as primary and secondary, once the aspirant, devotee or seeker progresses along its respective path. Peace and calm, and stillness, becomes a need to all three, as does wakefulness and love of being. And despite the warring, especially between votaries of Bhakti and Gyana, the destined end of each path also terminates their separation in essence.
Philosophically, Vedic perspective has a third belief system between dualism and absolute monism : qualified monism. Between the individual self and God, as eternal entity kinds, qualified monism holds that all this in the universe is the body of God. Though the self of the individual and God are of same nature, being Consciousness Pure, but their adjuncts differ in extension, their attributes that yield powers, and their ignorance.
The last — ignorance — is especially defining of the individual self : it is immersed deep in ignorance characterised by transient identity with name and form and false associations with non-self objects and derivatives. The individual is entangled in inescapable karma web that prompts choices and actions which reinforce its identity and associations and strengthen the binding web of karma. As a result, its adjunct does not truly reflect the individual self and the latter is therefore without the knowledge of its true nature.
The adjunct of God, Nescience, is free of taint, of karma repository, identity and association, and reflects the true nature of the Self enrapt memory of being Consciousness Pure which, despite the endless extension manifest and its omnipowers, retains the memory of being nothing other than Consciousness Pure.
The one Godhead is the witness pure peering through the intellect domain of individual being, the bliss infinite spread within the substratum, on which the individual self rests during its deep sleep state. It is the consciousness that coagulates or knowledge that forms in the mind. It is the energy present in food and the impulse flowing in vitality. It sits functioning in sense organs and is the cosmic knowledge, of which the elements form life, the body and its organs are formed and programmed to serve.
The entire creation, it is recalled, is a consequence of the momentary dream holding the Self encapsulated consciousness of the memory of being the one and only Consciousness Pure.
We will take up next the nature of the three states of being, individual and cosmic.
The excerpt below about Consciousness Pure is not eulogical but a patient attempt to point at it :
Know that alone as Brahman which cannot be expressed by speech but by which speech is expressed, and not that which people here worship.
Know that alone as Brahman which cannot be apprehended by mind but by which, they say, the mind is apprehended, and not that which people here worship.
Know that alone as Brahman which cannot be perceived by the eye but by which the eye is perceived, and not that which people here worship.