In India, God, called Brahman, the Reality, is considered to be nonmaterial, beyond the scope and influence of energy, and transcendent of thought. It is thus deemed Ever-Pure, Ever-Free. Brahman is to be left where It naturally resides, “on High,” to quote Christianity, attracting souls Godwards towards It rather than being pulled down to easy comfort zones — as if that were even possible. To the Indian rishi, or seer, it was never advisable to commingle that purely spiritual Principle of Brahman with the world and its concerns, nor was such to be attempted or intended; it was considered both unwise and impossible. Otherwise, a helpless trespass on universal Divine Law would be the outcome, followed by disharmony. Much later in history, when the Christ reminded both the Pharisees and the Romans that “one cannot serve two masters, God and Mammon,” He was rightly affirming what the rishis of ancient India had so deftly proclaimed much earlier — that is, and to utilize a metaphor, oil and water cannot mix. These two liquids may be able to coexist, but they cannot remain unified for long. And the fact that they seem to mix, and only temporarily, is a warning that must be heeded and taken as a clue. Watching and waiting for this inevitable separation process confers a valuable lesson. In other words, the “oil” of Consciousness and the “water” of matter cannot mix; they only seem to merge to the impetuous, impatient, and impervious mind. Thus, and though a seeming contradiction to the word “oneness,” God and the world are distinct from one another. Their twoness exists in terms of essence and nonessence, but their oneness persists on the level of pure and natural Existence.
That God and the world are two separate factions — this is real wisdom, a true revelation on the nondual level. No burning bushes, parting seas, or descending angels here; only a flat-out statement of fact that will, if properly understood, place living beings on the path to freedom. These ardent seekers may sometimes encounter and even take note of moral codes, mystic signs, and phenomenal visions, but they will not stop short or stagnate as the adherents of conventional religion are prone to do. That person or religion that wants to grow up spiritually must acknowledge Reality to be nondual, and follow up by perceiving all religions to be coexisting facets within one scintillating diamond of Truth. Otherwise, one risks complicating and distorting the natural way of things, as the materialistic West is presently doing. For, as Christ stated: “One cannot serve two masters,” and “Grant unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” In this connection, Swami Vivekananda observed: “It is the tendency to bring everything down to the level of a machine that has given the West its wonderful prosperity. And it is this which has driven away all religion from its doors. Even the little that is left, the West has reduced to a systematic drill.” The words of the prophets are written on the temple walls. Short of merely noting them, India offers the world the way to realize them, and to thus beat a hasty path out of Maya.
To properly understand the unique nondual Principle gifted to the world by the Indian rishis, then, all seekers after Truth would be well-advised to take up and study the Indian darshanas. A darshana is a philosophical system which allows for clear comprehension of Truth. Buddhism is one of these Indian darshanas, a way based in the nonduality of Vedanta, and it is being spread broadcast in Western nations even today. Other notable vehicles for engendering spiritual insight are the Sankhya darshana of Lord Kapila, and the already widely-recognized philosophy of Yoga (here is meant the superior Raja Yoga, called “Patanjala,” not hatha yoga). The authentic Tantra of the rishis, should be included in this enlightening philosophical presentation as well, though in its pure form it is practically inseparable from Vedanta.
To explain more about these eternal philosophical systems, the metaphor of India’s healthy spiritual body is herein utilized. Vedanta represents the illumined mind of this well-rounded unit, consisting of the affirmative nondual Truth element allied with a spiritually salubrious attitude of negation that strictly disallows any form of ignorance or false superimposition (vivarta). Tantra is the devoted heart of Mother India’s spiritual body, moving with patience in a painstaking fashion to gather together all the experiences relative to God with form so as to further inform and fill out its existence. This divine couple, which can be described as Wisdom and Worship (knowledge of formlessness and deification of form), are the Two Great Streams which have run side by side with one another ever since the dawning of India’s far-distant past, commingling their pure and ignorance-slaking waters almost inextricably for the overall good of mankind over countless centuries. And if these two darshanas represent the mind and heart residing within the body of authentic spiritual existence, then it is Sankhya philosophy, that most ancient of Eastern systems, that symbolizes the life’s blood of this healthy body, while Yoga, the Eight-Limbed system of spiritual ascension, constitutes its vital energy, capable of refining all its tendencies in order to attain mastery via practice. A clarified mind, an open and loving heart, an unimpeded flow of pure blood, and a vibrant and vitally percolating store of vital energy — what problem cannot be solved, what ignorance not be dispelled, what insight remain unrealized with such a well-rounded vehicle at our disposal? Thus we hear Vivekananda saying:
“Our religion should be preached in Europe and America. Modern science has already undermined the basis of religions like Christianity. Over and above that, luxury is about to kill the religious instinct itself. Mankind ought to be taught that religions are but the varied expressions of The Religion which is Oneness, so that each may choose the path that suits him best.”
What is being proposed here is what is required for true spiritual advancement. Experiences in the world only, dalliance with the occult, conventional religion, and the rest will fail the higher goal; even moral excellence will not be enough for the realization of “The Self” within — the “I and my Father are One” revelation of Jesus. The acquisition of a perfectly balanced spiritual body which knows no bounds and lacks nothing in its singularly-directed impetus towards integral knowledge is necessary. That incomparable adept will guide aspiring beings along that path leading to the Universality of Religions which Sri Ramakrishna walked.
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