STUDENT: “Here is a question on ajativada, or non-origination. To date, I have been understanding this to mean that existence is without beginning, in the causal sense. I've been thinking, in other words, that the term refers to the idea that we can never find a first cause for anything because anything caused will itself have been caused (and so on, back and back), and thus, existence, while in fact existing, nevertheless has no beginning, or no origin. Now I am questioning if this is what ajativada means. I've been thinking that ajativada might instead refer to the beginninglessness of Atman-Brahman (rather than the beginninglessness of the phenomenal world composed of the twenty-four principles); and I have been thinking that aparinama (the doctrine that ajativada so often gets paired with), perhaps puts the phenomenal world into a perspective acceptable to Advaita by denying and illustrating its unreality, or by at least illustrating that it is not real in the way we think it is and, ultimately, that it is only Atman-Brahman too. How close am I to understanding these doctrines? And where (if anywhere) does my first idea fit — namely, the idea that existence is non-originated in the sense of having no first cause?”
BABAJI: All of what you say here is rightly put, and rightly understood. And there is more. Ajativada, or nonorigination (no birth, no death; no creation, no destruction) refers to both the Soul and Nature; all is unborn. This is the conclusion of the Upanisads, and of Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. Thus, all is Brahman. The only distinction to make, for that discriminating seeker wanting to avoid mental delusion forever, is that the Soul is Sentient while Nature is not. To put it in the pre-Vedantic (before the Upanisadic era) language of the rishis, Brahman/Atman is the Unchanging Reality, while Mind (Antakarana/Nature) is the changing Reality.
Another helpful siddhanta (philosophical conclusion) to draw is that Nature has come out of the Antahkarana, or Great Mind (Mahat) via its projecting power. For, if one moves to perform the necessary negation at one phase of its understanding and, either out of ignorance, oversight, or aversion, excludes the world from the picture, then the world becomes not just “unreal” (which in Vedantic language means changing), but completely illusory. This will not do, for the Soul/souls have a relationship with Nature which is important to mental development — even if such be only a type of Lila, or sporting (sporting is different than dreaming, by the way).
And here is where aparinama enters into the picture. There is no transformation, i.e., change is not possible in Brahman; It is Immutable, perfect as It is. And so, the change one sees, or any transformation that one witnesses, is 1) occurring only in nature (mind + maya + the projecting power), and 2) is all apparent only. This is the double downwards-spiraling helix of maya, which as Sri Krishna says, is very difficult to pierce through. Stroke one of maya is this constant flux and change. Stroke two is that all change is nonactual, apparent only. Due to this dual deluding power (avarana/vikshepa) of maya, beings get stultified.
But maya has more confusion to visit on the mind. There is a third stroke, and it occurs to those beings who, unwilling to give up and give in to stultification, press on and try to find answers. For these adamantine souls, maya comes to be considered as being unreal itself (big mistake), and all and sundry is then thrown away in the rush for complete renunciation of the world, of name and form.
But how can this be? Maya, as defined by the knowers of Brahman (they have seen through maya because they have arrived and now dwell in Brahman), is neither real, nor unreal, nor a combination of both. As Vivekananda has put it in this day and age, maya is a “statement of fact.” Only in Nirvikalpa (Asamprajnata) does maya disappear....does name and form cease to insinuate itself. And even here it does not go away completely, for does not the law of ajativada, which we just affirmed, state that there is no creation and no destruction? Perhaps it is that the conjuring up of something out of nothing makes that assumed something impossible to destroy.
The defense for this triple stroke of maya on the heads of aspiring beings is consciously making the connection (now a reconnection in this day and age) between mind and nature; that is, that all of form, i.e., nature, has come out of the Great Mind....or out of the Word, if one prefers. What is meant by this is that, being spiritually informed, one can no longer live in a world divorced from nature, the self, all selves, and The Self. A fragmented existence is no existence at all. Nature is just my Self in an objectified and insentient state, brought to that condition by the fabricating power of my mind, of all minds, of the Great Mind. As the scientist, James Jeans, said towards the end of the previous century, and I paraphrase: “We studied nature for a long time, and to us it looked like a machine. But now, under deeper study, it begins to look more like a thought.” Yes, a thought. And a thought must have its origin in a mind......
So, in an active and inward sadhana or spiritual discipline/practice, the soul must go beyond the material cause (food/body) and find the efficient cause (nature). Then it must go beyond the efficient cause (after making the necessary connection via meditation) and find the primordial cause (prana). After this, the next step is to uncover and explore the subtle cause, or mind. Along this inward trajectory all salient connections are to be made. If they are not, and only a cursory or an intellectual inspection is made, the real purpose of the inward journey gets frustrated. The result is atheism or nihilism, or science and its immature/premature conclusions — even fundamentalist religion which is not much more than a set of limitations and fallacies today. And beyond the subtle cause is the cosmic cause (maya and its laws), and then the remote cause (the Word), and finally the Causeless Cause — Brahman. For a more complete rendering of this tracing of origins (utpatti) please see the chart I have created for it at the end of this lesson (study it from top to bottom for “evolution” (projection), or from bottm upwards for “involution” (dissolution).
To summarize, maya’s greatest trick is to convince beings that it does not exist. But unlike the Christian devil in this regard, just hanging out waiting to get you, maya in Vedanta and Tantra is indicated to be insentient. In short, there is no process outside oneself, and other than the doings of one’s own mind, that can hamper or waylay you. Recognition of this, pratyabijna, is the thing needed. You created the dream, or illusion, and you are to awaken from it. The guru can slap you awake, but if you only want to fall back asleep, what can be done? You are the devil, then. God or maya does not need to send an external agent to torture the soul who is already expert at doing that to himself. So: “Renounce the poison of renunciation; renounce the poison of non-renunciation. You are the nectar of Knowledge, homogenous Existence, like the Sky.”