God, Free Will and the Absolute

God was bored and feeling quite alone and so he decided to create the Universe.

Isn’t it a rather anthropo-centered point of view to attribute to the Ultimate Principle (another term for “God”) psychological attributes such as boredom and loneliness and that this boredom and/or loneliness would be the cause of “God” creating the Universe and you and I? Is this all perhaps, as some venerable old ones suggest, a sort of spontaneous combustion that per default continually results in a ‘total functioning’ simply because nothing CAN go outside of the reciprocal movement of all of the elements of itself, since “there is no ‘out there’ out there” (Dr. Fred Wolf in “What the Beep”)?

For myself I use the metaphor of a kaleidoscope in which each little splitter of glass moves in unison with each other splitter of glass because they are all self-contained within the unit of the kaleidoscope. What moves them? It is the lens turning, which allows what we call gravity to move all the pieces in unison into different variations of designs. Looking at only a small area of the movement, it appears as if one piece is causing the movement of the next, but another one caused the movement of the first one, apparently. Only when seen as a whole does one recognizes the kaleidoscope mechanism. We appear to be individuals deciding to move objects and deciding to interact with other individuals in our environment. Is that really so?

kaleidoscope

We know from the research of the HeartMath Institute that our heart reacts to images shown to the eye A FEW SECONDS before the image appears on the screen. We also know from research, I am told, that the reasoning and decision-making part of our brain receives the information of an action having been performed (making a fist, for example) AFTER the fist is already made. Our mind tells us that WE decided to make a fist. Is that so? We perceive thoughts and then conclude that there must be a thinker. Are thoughts then merely a function of the mind to reflect what has happened after the fact?

Are we able to do more than reflect actions and events after the fact? Is there some principle or force engineering the actions of individuals, according to the default of ever-increasing and more complex order, which leads to balance/homeostasis/stability?

One could also ask: who or what is turning the lens on the kaleidoscope of our world?

Toward the end of an intensive yoga workshop (asanas, pranayama and philosophy 12 – 14 hours per day over two weeks) I entered into a vision-space experience: I perceived an infinitely vast immensity that I will connote with the words “river of primordial energy”. This river was absolute stillness and silence, as well as infinite intensity, similar to a spinning top, which might appear still, until one looks closer. Nothing was manifest since the entire river of energy was in absolute homeostasis. Then something lit up and my view zeroed in on that appearance. It was an infinitesimal “catch” in the flow, like a tiny snag in a silk stocking. The cause of the snag was irrelevant: it just “happened to happen”, out of nowhere. At this moment while writing I get the sense that it was perhaps like a hiccup – spontaneous.

This snag had the effect of a small branch that gets caught on the bank of a river and then creates a small whirlpool in an otherwise absolutely uniform flow of the whole. Interestingly, both words “vortex” and “whirlpool” have the Sanskrit root “vr” and “vrt”, both of which mean “to choose” and from which “vrtti” is formed. Thus, allowing the vrtti-movement of human consciousness to subside, allows this consciousness to be integrated back into the absolute homeostasis of the whole. This is called the yoga state.

According to this point of view, I realized that consciousness itself is actually a kind of anomaly or disturbance of the Primordial. And so, with Joseph Campbell we can say: “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life.”

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The Yoga Sutras tell us with “Īśvarapranidhana” that the key is to consciously enter into that intensity of Beingness in the Void (free of the mental stream) and we will know our true identity, our true nature. We will not find that Truth outside of us.

I like the following passage from Swami Rama’s book on the Mandukya Upanishad, Enlightenment Without God. In the section “What God Is” we find a more in-depth meaning of Īśvara:

“In the Upanishads, the word Īśvara is used to denote a state of collective consciousness. Thus, God is not a being that sits on a high pedestal beyond the sun, moon, and stars; God is actually the state of Ultimate Reality. But due to the lack of direct experience, God has been personified and given various names and forms by religions throughout the ages. When one expands one’s individual consciousness to the Universal Consciousness, it is called Self-realization, for the individual self has realized the unity of diversity, the very underlying principle, or Universal Self, beneath all forms and names. The great sages of the Upanishads avoid the confusions related to conceptions of God and encourage students to be honest and sincere in their quests for Self-realization. Upanishadic philosophy provides various methods for unfolding higher levels of truth and helps students to be able to unravel the mysteries of the individual and the universe.”

My vision-experience also showed me this: that which was “lit up” in this River of Suchness was that which was not in complete sync with the River of the Unmanifest. In other words, a hiccup created a slight dissonance and from there something “appeared”. This that appeared (and which became manifest due to a slightly different frequency than the Totality) could thus be seen as an anomaly, a deviation from That which, up until then, had appeared simply as the uniformity of the Totality. (In the beginning was the Word = sound = vibration.)

Could we be so bold as to think of all of manifestation as having resulted from a “derailment” or disturbance of the Absolute? How can that be, when all is so obviously magnificent, so full of divine order and in sync with the cosmos and imbued with such intrinsic beauty? What if the Absolute (That for which we can have no suitable concept and which I can only think of as THAT which transcends and precedes any and all manifestation) is so amazing and mysterious (as all sages assure us is the case) that even a distortion of THAT is still so awe-inspiring and mysteriously magnificent as to be mind-boggling. What if God, Īśvara, the Ultimate Reality, the Tao are all preceded by a No-State State that is NOT OF the creative principle and out of which the creative principle sprang, like a hiccup, or a short circuit? We look to the Source of all manifestation as the Creator. What is the Source of the Creator?

Are these musings just the mind flying its kite or is there a deeper existential sense to such questing? My vision-experience showed me that the galaxies (all vortexes in a state of spin) are indeed the same as the whirlpool on the bank of the river where debris is caught up, and one could say “debris” is that which is “out of place” – out of sync with its environment. The galaxies are then “out of sync” with their environment (the vacuum field). Will the pre-manifestation state of the Absolute ever be restored to its original absolute homeostasis through the dynamic of black holes sucking in the visible energy and returning it to the “dark’” state? I am not a physicist and I have no answer to that question.

vortex galaxyDo the galaxies shine because their vibration was slowed down due to the friction caused by the vortex movement the energy got caught up in? Does this friction cause them to light up, show up, as out of sync to their environment of dark primordial energy? We are given the mysterious formula of SAT-CHIT-ANANDA. What about this translation: When consciousness (CHIT) becomes aware of the quality of Absolute Beingness embedded in the Absolute Un-Beingness of the Primordial Field (SAT) it begins to spin at a tremendously high rate, it “comes up to speed” again, so to speak, due to the influx of the undiluted, undistorted energy from the Primordial Field (River of Suchness) and it is liberated into Absolute Bliss (ANANDA) thus breaking free of the whirlpool and uniting with the Field. That is why all that brings us joy (follow your bliss) tends to unite us with the Divine in our life and we say we are “high spirits” and not low or depressed. We could also say we are fast and not slow.

What is the relevance of these views for my life? I refer to Ramana Maharshi’s Forty Verses on Reality:

“19. Only those who have no knowledge of the Source of destiny and free-will dispute as to which of them prevails. They that know the Self as the one Source of destiny and free-will are free from both. Will they again get entangled in them?”

This speaks to me as it is my realization that this manifested existence functions using both modalities, if I can use that term. I find the metaphor of the ocean and the waves appropriate. No wave can move in a different direction than the current and the wind command. However, it does have the choice to recognize its true nature as water and then move consciously – freely — as water moves: as evaporation, cloud, rain, lake, river and ocean. It will no longer feel trapped as a wave, condemned to the same old up and down, on and on. Similarly, we can realize our true nature as that primordial energy that has “somehow” taken on form. We are then free to feel ourselves moving as that energy, conscious of our process of forming ourselves into myriad forms.

When I recognize the basic movement that leads to the energy getting caught up in the vortex movement, becoming manifest and taking form, I can reverse engineer the process and it leads me to the living realization of my true nature as the Primordial. This is what the Yoga Sutras, as well as many other ancient schools did. The basic movement was spin. The spin began (the spontaneous “hiccup”) and its intrinsic dynamic kept it spinning.

The Sutras also say: look at the motor that keeps the spin going and you will realize how to turn it off. The motor is choice. How many ancient texts speak of “choiceless awareness”?

“One strips oneself of passion in order to see the Secret of Life” (Tao Te Ching).

“Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set apart. / If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything.” (Hsin Hsin Ming)

“People like that have yet to forget about choices.” (Lin Chi), and so on.

640px-Guru_Rinpoche_in_mist_2Looking at the vrtti movement, which is a movement of choosing, I can see what happens when something comes my way and I say “No!” and I push it away, then the next thing comes and I say “Yes!” and I draw it towards me. This psychological movement of repulsion and attraction creates spin in the mind-stuff (citta). From this point of view the freedom we are called upon to exercise is “not choosing”. That means we must step out of the whole dynamic of the mind-stream, which is the stream of manifestation. Then, as the Zen master, Lin Chi, suggests:  “It is not so with the true man who has insight into Reality. He gives himself up to all manner of situations in which he finds himself in obedience to his past karma. He appears in whatever garments are ready for him to put on. As it is desired of him either to move or to sit quietly, he moves or sits. He has not a thought of running after Buddhahood. He is free from such pinings.”

He does this because he has realized that there is only one way to pull the plug on the motor of manifestation, transmigration, dukha, karma, etc. and that is to detach. It is like stepping on the clutch to disengage the gears. The mind goes into abeyance. Then, automatically, when the mind is in the state of “sthiti” (steadiness of the mind) there is a union with that which is of the same steadiness. As Nisargadatta says: “Compared to That, diamonds are like butter,” meaning that the Absolute is of immense stability and solidity.

One very beneficial outcome of this mastery is that for every degree of “sthiti” that one enters into, one gains that same degree of connection with THAT. It is not necessary to be completely in a state of “Brahmi sthiti” as mentioned in the Bhagadvagita, (being anchored in the steadiness of Brahman; grounded in the Absolute). Rather, the understanding of this dynamic itself brings one to an inner detachment from the vrtti movement of choosing. This understanding and conviction deepen organically – spontaneously — and so does one’s connection to THAT.

In summary, choosing is a sign of a deep inner attachment to manifestation and form. This implies a belief that release from the bondage of conditions (and thus my happiness) is dependent on conditions. Because I believe in the world, it is real for me. Only when I realize my true nature as “not of this world” am I free.

The greatest opening for me recently has been my realization that “happiness for no reason” (pure joy from within myself) has the effect of increasing the rate of spin of my whole system (mental, emotional, physical) beyond the vrtti state of friction and dissonance with the whole. My whole Being moves into a state of coherency and syncs with the River of Suchness. I feel carried by a deep knowing that this Suchness transcends all beginnings and endings, all births and deaths.

Han Shan with scroll“All the world’s deluded people
stick together like cooked millet
they don’t see the carefree man
on his own beyond their reach
go back to the source right now
let the three worlds rise and fall
swim in the river of suchness
don’t drink the water of darkness
.
~ Han Shan (Poet of Cold Mountain)

–      End –

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11 thoughts on “God, Free Will and the Absolute

  1. You distill so well. We all benefit from your generosity of the share from your hard work. It is one of the greatest gifts one can ever receive… not that we should sit back and wait for others to do all the heavy lifting, but it is so nice to get access to others Cliff Notes from time to time. 🙂 -x.M

    • Thank you! We are all standing on each others shoulders, in a certain sense – specially on the shoulders of those whose expression has come down to us through the ages – they inspire me greatly. ☼ tomas ♥

  2. Thank you Tomas for sharing your experiences and insights. They are illuminating as always! I have been reading the Gnostic gospels recently and what you wrote about the “hiccup” or “distortion” made me think of what the Gnostics say about a lower-order demiurge “creator of the world” vs God, or even how the mainstream Christian creation myth talks about the Fall of man. Choosing, or rather attempting to impose our will, is what pulls us out of unity with the divine and casts us into the tribulations of the world. But then there is the paradox of “choosing” choiceless awareness as a means of returning to that state. Is there any choice on our part involved? Or is this the place of surrender – “consciously” turning over our will to God, and letting the Divine take over? What do you think?
    Warmest wishes of the heart,
    Anna

    • Yes, Anna, that is the crux of the matter. We have become so enamored with our thoughts. Humanity believes that thought can take us anywhere – new technology, genetic engineering etc etc. This has gone far past the point of using thought as the very useful tool that it is and has become an attitude of arrogance in our relationship with nature. Once we are able to see clearly that thought is limited then something new starts. Thought itself is now beginning to experience its limits and when that happens it refrains from going beyond its limits because it is actually concerned with safety. Now it is starting to recognize that safety means not abusing its capabilities. Then that which is far, far greater than thought is recognized by thought as the ultimate authority and thoughts’ actions become tempered by this greater force. We stop choosing when we are able to really accept ‘what is’ – moment by moment. There are no real choices beyond ‘choosing’ to acknowledge ‘what is’. When we do that, the present moment shows us clearly what is to be done in order to be in alignment with the Totality, or God or whatever word you use for that Great One. Another way to say that is as you have phrased it: “Or is this the place of surrender – “consciously” turning over our will to God, and letting the Divine take over? ” Cheers! enjoy yourself! tomas ♥

  3. Tomas, your workshop experience can only be expressed as “poetically divine”. As difficult as it is to convey the inexpressible where there are no worldly context or concepts, you share with us that…. primordial vibe. Thanks for giving us a taste of this yoga state of being. ♥

  4. Hi Flow from the Heart…I Love the mix of your writings and the quotes! Thank You! I just noticed that you have a section…These are good ones…I feel blessed to be among one of them. Thank You for that At the moment my first book is at the editor, so I have to enter deeper into the abyss of the internet world myself…Face book etc.When I know how to make…a these are good ones, you will be definitely be one of them! Namaste, Pina

    • Hello Villapina! That section comes from the “widget” – which you find under “Appearance” on the left side of your Admin page (where you have your dashboard, posts, media etc. When you go to “Appearances” and then to “Widgets” you find they are in alphabetical order. The widget “Posts I like” (A list of the posts I most recently liked), when you drag it over to the right side to bring it onto your blog, it has a small arrow to click on so it opens up – then you can change the title. I then wrote “These are good ones” – Have fun!
      also: this is a good link for help: http://en.support.wordpress.com/
      Cheers! tomas

  5. Pingback: This Bed of Peace | heartflow2013

  6. Life is a unique phenomenon and the concept of mechanism is not adequate for its analysis. It is a factual Whole. We are used to a type of knowledge which is sectional and piecemeal, fragments of a total experience that do not fit together. They are mostly based on cause and effect, like an externally worked machine. But, as you have pointed out, life is spontaneous, a center of indetermination, freely choosing, rejecting, reflecting on the past and dynamically imagining the future; and that convinces us that mechanical explanations are inadequate.

    • Complete agreement! There is definitely nothing “mechanistic” about it – our linear thinking is not capable of grasping it. Only our Heart can connect with the depth of Existence, because we are “of” it – and then we can “know” but not in a mental way through words. Thank you for your comment! tomas ☼

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