Shifting Perspectives from Individual to the Universal

This rather long excerpt is a transliterated (and sanitised) question and answer session between the leader of a philosophy school, I was once a member of, and a previous Shakaracharya (Teacher – and realised man) of North India. The text has lots of Sanskrit terms, which I’ve attempted to translate. Hope you like it..

QUESTION: “In the awakening of memory, which is a movement from Vyashti (Individual perspective) to Samashti (Cosmic perspective) depending, as you have previously said, upon the level of being, may this process be thought of in terms of stages, which could be used for practical operations?”

(more on Vyashti and Samashti here:

ANSWER: “The awakening of the memory in Vyashti and its journey towards Samashti may be seen through seven steps. The first step is “Subhechha” (Subha Good impulse + Ichha pure desire). This Subhechha is the point of movement, the primal wave and the beginning of the play of awakening.”

“There are many ways to come to a good impulse. It could be a good book, a school, a holy man, or a teacher, or even an incident in one’s life. All these, or any one of them, could remind the individual of something latent in him, and he would then make a move to materialise it. This is the ordinary course.” “There are others who come with ready made Sanskara, (the fruits of previous lives) ( ), and are placed so favourably in the world by providence that, not only reminding, but the way is laid bare for them to tread right from the start. In the BHAGAVAD GITA when Ajuna asks about the fate of a Yogi who, for some reason, leaves the body and discipline before full realization, Shri Krishna says that such men are born in better surroundings, descend with extra power and energy and naturally pick up the thread again to complete the self realisation. They may not need a book, or even a guide in the usual sense. There is enough within which unfolds itself step by step. They start from where they left and keep moving of themselves until full realisation (awakening) is materialised.”

“For example, a seed lying in the ground sprouts automatically when the season arrives and everything is provided by nature to transform it into a big tree. This is how some special beings rise very quickly to high levels.” “For common man, it is either an accident or the availability of a school or the descent of a teacher, and most of it is not much of his own making at all. The good impulse, the pure desire, is a universal desire. This is the desire of the Absolute which manifests in stages with various Vyashtya (plural of Vyashti) to perform their functions to please Him.”

“This is very much like a theatrical company in which the director lays down the plan and the proceedings in a certain order, and delegates different parts to people with appropriate capacities. In this play, some perform their parts beautifully and win the applause of their audiences, win the favour of their master, and enjoy the satisfaction of a good work. Those who do not attend to their part properly lose patronisation and also the job. Finally, they have a run down and suffer depravation and humiliations.”

“Those who manage to get a good impulse start their own drama of a journey back to home. Within this great drama of the Absolute, the individual then takes the first initiative and the reversal drama starts; the Vyashti has now at least turned his face towards the Samashti which is still unknown to him. If he does try his wits, according to the pure desire, he will soon find himself divided in opposing loyalties. This unrest of the mind will call for knowledge and guidance.”

“If he manages to get enough true knowledge and a proper system to apply his knowledge to reason, then alone will he come face to face with truth and it’s direction. In this situation, the un-useful and negative forces seem to press very hard on the individual, either as temptations or dire consequences of punishment and depravation. Reason would, of course, dispel such evil forces and the individual would firmly stand to go with Truth and the call of the Atman (spirit). This is known as Suvicharana and the result of this ascent is a decision and this establishes his way.”

“Many would give up and feel safe and comfortable, knowing not where they were heading. If, in any case, reason prevails, the individual would settle down for Truth or discipline. He would work hard and would move in steadiness and fairness. This naturally keeps him away from evils, wrongs and a number of vices. His inner being begins getting cleansed and purified. His collections of the past, which so far used to cloud his mind and emotions would find no hold over him and leave. He would feel lighter, for his load of rubbish and muck would have gone and this stage is known as Tanumanasa”

“He would now employ his energy in direct work without any loss. He becomes efficient, untiring and much more capable within and without. This sets a new process in action. So far, the loss or misuse of energy has been stopped with the result that more energy is available for useful and efficient work. Now the energy itself comes under conscious work and finer energy is thus evolved. Satva (Balance, order, purity) now abounds and every aspect of his being becomes bright. Not only does he live under light, but he himself sheds light, and things and situations around him begin to transform. This stage is known as Satvapatti.”

“Satvapatti is very much like an interpreter, or transformer, through which the lower and upper steps of the ladder are connected. This is the fourth stage and falls in the middle. This is the region of light. Only under light can one see clean from dirty, good from bad, beautiful from ugly and so on. Now, it is no longer a matter of convention or association for the individual to discriminate between good and bad, right and wrong. He sees the situation under the light of Satva, observes the facts as they are and without falling prey to the delusion of sentimentality, he goes for the good and the right.” “Since he lives in the region of light, he has no fear, because all fear originates from darkness and ignorance. He is now steady, upright, unhesitant and clear. He comes to gain a sense of his caliber and power and looks forward to the next steps with courage and hope.”

“This prepares him for a different realm which is called Asamsakti. At this level, the vision of the man undergoes a great change, for he now sees beyond the apparent. When he moves on to the next level of Asamsakti, then he is a far freer person. Since all things in the universe have their origin in the Absolute and are pervaded by Him, there is bound to be some relation between all of them. These relations are binding elements. They could manifest as attachment, love or bondage (Moha). Moha would have long since disappeared and now Raga (attachment) is also dissolved.”

“The disciple appreciates the brilliant, glorious, enchanting and attractive appearance of all things and also enjoys them, but he never hankers for them and never chases after them. He sees everything new and naturally responds to it, not from the past, nor from the future, but only from the present; the present which flashes the will of the Absolute.” “He still maintains the knowledge of his own being as separate from things and also as separate from the Absolute. The drama, the actor and the performances, and enjoyment from them, are all cognised as having a special significance and yet nothing would seem to bind him. He is only bound by love and in this detached state responds to the will of the Absolute.”

Padarthabhavini. Having experienced the world as it is, and without having any personal reference to himself, he is now ready to go deeper. He looks at forms which are apparent and manifest and also beyond the apparent. The apparent forms are all held by the unmanifest, the cause, the substance which is about to create new forms or about to bring change in the existing forms. He sees the being, the real being, the outer being and the inner being together. He in fact experiences the presence of the Avyakta, the will of the Absolute unmanifest, holding all space, all time and all Guna (the 3 primary qualities of creation – Satva, Rajas, and Tamas (law of 3)). He sees the clay and the pot simultaneously, the table and the wood, ornament and gold, thread and cloth, all come under vision as one. Everything seems like nothing but the body and being of the Absolute. (sees spirit or God in everything everywhere)”

“Things in this level become transparent. They do not disappear, they are not negated, and yet they are transcended and one sees the laws and also the maker of the laws. He is like a lover, who cannot see anything except his beloved in everything and at all times. The thing to watch in this realm is that he and she are both there. There is nothing more than he and she, or the individual and the Absolute.” “Turiya. The next dive is into the union. The diver, the depth and the diving are all known and experienced as one. The drama goes on. He stops nowhere; he stops nothing, but allows all things to happen. In union he only knows himself to be Absolute and he does act as an Absolute.”

“He has creative power and his being uses it without any claims whatsoever. This state is Turiya. This is hardly a state, for all states are within it. It is the fullness, the oneness, the reality, something unqualified and indescribable. There is the Absolute without a second. This is where Vyashti becomes Samashti.”