Tuesday, February 5, 2008

the highest secret

rejavidya raja guhyam
pavitram idam uttamam

the knowledge above all other:
purifier and royal secret,
made plain to the eye of the mystic.
great virtue, easy practice;
thus are we brought to eternal truth.
Bhagavad Gita IX:2

For some reason I as quite struck by the citation above form the Bhagavad Gita that Abhishiktananda just breezes by in his tribute to Jules Monchanin (published again recently by the ashram, that he (Monchanin)
… was more and more drawn within by an irresistible aspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that more and more he was learning from India the great secret

rejavidya raja guhyam pavitram idam uttamam,(Bh.G 9, 2)

of simply being in the Presence, atmanishtah, the very message the Almighty commissioned her to proclaim for ever in the world.
As these kind of coincidences happen in reading, Aurobindo also mentions this secret in regards the Gita:
… the path alone, as the ancients saw it is worked out fully: the perfect fulfillment, the highest secret is hinted rather than developed; it is kept back as an unexpressed part of a supreme mystery.
(But in the footnote he refers to it as rahasyam uttamam.) I just got done giving the first part of my talk for the community’s ongoing formation program on Axial Consciousness and the Perennial Philosophy. (Gosh, that sounds so gnostic and pretentious on its own, doesn’t it?) Part of what I am trying to do is disseminate Bruno’s thinking, because I don’t think people will have the patience to wade through his book to get there. But you almost have to wade through the get “there.” The “there” in this case is “participatory consciousness.” I was reviewing my notes for this afternoon’s second half, on the challenge to Christianity, and I kept coming back to 2 Pt 1:3: “…that you may become participants in the divine nature.” This is both who we are and what we are to do. Bruno calls is “participatory consciousness”: that through out participation in the Christ event we awaken to the non-dual divine light as our own identity and then awaken to this as divine power within ourself, as generative freedom, as the power, the capability of creating a human world. Our identity is our power. I think my old formula works as well: breathing in and breathing out; the love of God––the Holy Spirit––is poured into our hearts; the love of God––the Holy Spirit––flows back out of our hearts. And I want to say the great secret, “the path alone, as the ancients saw it, is worked out fully: the perfect fulfillment, the highest secret is hinted rather than developed; it is kept back as an unexpressed part of a supreme mystery”: that you may become participants in the divine nature.

The last days here have been fine. Quite a host of folks coming through. Just as Russill and Asha’s group left we arrived from Tiru with the Danes. Just as they left, my old friends Stefan and Rebecca from the WCCM showed up with a group from England, along with another old friend Michael Giddings, with whom I shared many good hours here last year. The next day Meath Conlan from Australia arrived with two friends. He was another intimate of Bede’s. He brought Bede to Australia twice, once in 1983 and again in 1992, for events that have become infamous and sort of catapulted Fr Bede’s fame internationally. During the first one they filmed a Mass in the Indian style that is still shown on TV in Australia. On his second trip there Fr Bede met with the Dalai Lama and at one point spoke for a crowd of 20,000 people. It was also Meath who helped to organize the filming of the beautiful documentary about Fr Bede’s life, “The Human Search,” and he has just released a book himself entitled, Bede Griffiths: Gift and Friend of the Spirit.” Meath has been here countless times and his family history in India goes back hundreds of years, so he is an incredible resource besides being a charming and erudite man. And then yesterday Andrew Harvey arrived with a group. He himself is a well-known spiritual writer and another intimate of Bede’s late in Bede’s life. Apparently at one point Fr Bede said that no one had ever understood him as well as Andrew Harvey did. Though he never appears on camera Andrew was the interviewer for “The Human Search.” He is quite a colorful and creative person. I haven’t had much one on one time with him.

Yesterday I went for my daily walk along the Kauvery and was summoned to sit an visit with quite a group of young guys who were intermittently playing cricket, many of them I had met along the way and we were friendly, past the stage of them asking what country I was from, etc., leading up to a hustle for cash. They were mostly in the late teens and twenties. They sat me down in the shade and jostle with me for about half an hour. At one point one of them took my watch and offered me his cell phone in exchange. One of them had recorded me singing on his cell phone the day before and another now wanted my autograph––on his arm. It was a lot of fun, and then it got ugly. A guy showed up (I won’t even mention his name) who I had met here eight years ago. I had been asking about him through another guy named Chandru, who was part of this clique and with whom I had met this guy. Well, he started not so subtly and then blatantly hustling me immediately, first asking me for something to remember me by, a necklace or a ring. I offered him my prayer beads three times, telling him how precious they were to me, ut he kept turning them down. He obviously wanted something more valuable. He asked me if I had any bad habits (this was all through a friend who was translating; his English is very poor) to throw him a party. I said that I was the guest, so he should have thrown me a party, but in any case I was busy and didn’t have any bad habits. Then he asked me to buy him some pants and a shirt or a new cell phone and kept pushing and pushing and pushing. When I didn’t answer the whole little crowd got quiet and embarrassed because he started saying some things that they didn’t translate. I said goodbye to the other guys and said I was going to take my walk now, and he said he would go with me, and apparently said something nasty about what we could do in the woods together. So I set off he trailing behind me with his friend-translator for a little way until it became clear I was really going to walk and pretty briskly, when he said, Waiting, waiting” and went back to the big tree. When I came back he started up again without his translator while I stood there watching the cricket match again, until I finally turned around a walked away. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. It was the same hustle he had done on me eight years ago when he was 17. I could have almost excused it then, and did, as the acting out of a poor kid. But at 25 it was ugly and nasty and rude, and he didn’t make any attempt to hide it. I did bow to him and wish him well, but I couldn’t find way other connection at that point. I have no illusions about the possibility that any kindness shown to you in a country such as this could be a subterfuge for a hustle. Everyone says it: that’s the paradox of India. It drives you crazy with its inconsistencies, corruption and pollution; and yet they sit, perhaps unaware, on a great treasure, “the perfect fulfillment, the highest secret.” You cannot come here expecting to get coddled unless you spend your time in air-conditioned comfort being shuttled from place to place by taxis and Air Busses with obeisant guides.

On the other hand there is a worker at Mary Louise’s who has done nothing but look at me every time I pass through Ananda three or four times a day, with a big smile on his face as if he has known me for years. One day I ran into him at night coming back from Shantivanam, and we walked together and I got his name, JaiRam. After a few moments of silence he turned to me and said, “My name?” I answered, “JaiRam,” but he pointed to me and said, “My name?” which meant obviously at that point meant “Your name?” So I told him. The next day as I was leaving Ananda in the afternoon he was just standing there waiting for me. I tried to ask him a few simple questions like “Are you done with work?” But it was no go. I said, “No English, only Tamil?” And he said, “No English, all Tamil.” So we stood there for a moment and then greeted each other I went home. And suddenly I felt bad that I didn’t speak Tamil. Which shouldn’t have been a surprise or a disappointment since here I was a visitor in his country, and while he is breaking his back cleaning cow stalls and digging ditches, I was disappointed that he didn’t speak English. The next day he passed MC and I as we were going for breakfast and greeted us. I had learned one new Tamil word: nanban, which means “friend” and so I said, “Nanban!” He smiled happily, pointed back to me and said, “Nanban.” Santosha, this is enough.