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Cosmic Consciousness - 3 - On the Plane of Self Consciousness

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Cosmic Consciousness -  3 - On the Plane of Self Consciousness

Sir Charles Lyell, in the "Antiquity of Man" [113], pointed out the parallelism which exists between the origin, growth, decline and death of languages and of spececies in the organic world. In order to illustrate and at the same time broafen the present argument let us extend the parallel backward to the formation of the worlds and forward to the evolution of words and concepts.

The accompanying table will serve this purpose as well as, or better then, an elaborately reasoned exposition, and will serve at the same time as a symmary of the evolution argument which runs through this volume.

A short study of this tabular statement will make plain how orbs, species, languages and words branch, divide and multiply;will make intelligible Max Mueller's estimate that " every thought that has ever passed through the mind of India "may be reduced to one hundred and twenty--one root concept-that is, to one hundred and twenty-one root words [ 115. 401]; will make us agreee with him that, probably, that number might be still further reduced.
 
If we consider for a moment that this means that the millions of Indo-European words now in use as well as many times the number long since dead and forgotten, nearly all sprang from about one hundred roots and that these in their turn probably from half a dozen, and at the same time remember that reason and speech are one, we shall obtain a glimpse of what the human intellect once was in comparison with what it is to-day;and likewise it becomes apparent at a glance that the evolution not only of the species, languages and words is strictly parallel but that the scheme has probably a still wider, perhaps universal, application.

As regards the present thesis the conclusion to be drawn from this comparison is that words, and that therefore the constituent elements of the intellect which they represent and which we call concepts, grow by division and branching, as new species branch off from older, and it seems clear that a normal growth is encouraged and an excessive and useless development checked by the same means in the one case as in the other-that is, by natural selection and the struggle for existence.

New concepts, and words expressing them, which correspond with some external reality (whether this is a thing, an act, state, or a relation0, and which are therefore of use to man, since their existence places him in more complete relation with the outer world, on which relation his life and welfare depend, are preserved by the process of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Some again which either do not correspond at all, or only imperfectly, with an objective reality are replaced by others which do correspond or correspond better with the reality which these aimed to express, and so in the struggle for existence fall into disguise and die out.
 
For it is with words as with every other living thing, thousands are produced for one that lives. Towards whatever object the mind is especially turned it throws out words often with marvellous profusion. When some thousands of years ago, Sanscrit being still a living language and the sun and fire looked upon either as actual gods or at least as especially sacred, fire had (instead of a very few names as now) thirty-five and the sun thirty-seven [115. 437].
 
But much more remarkable examples are those drawn from Arabic, as, for instance, the eighty names for honey, the two hundred for serpent, the five hundred for lion, the one thousand for sword and the five thousand seven hundred and forty-four words all relating to the camel, these being subjects upon which the Arab mind is strongly and persistently bent [115. 438] So again Max Mueller tells us; "We can hardly form an idea of the boundless resources of dialects. When literary languages have stereotyped one general term their dialects will supply fifty, though each one with its special shade og meaning.
 
 
 
If new combinations of thoughts are evolved in the progress of society, dialects will readily supply the required names from the store of their so-called superfluous words. There are not only local and provincial but also class dialects. There is a dialect of shephers, of sportsmen,of soldiers, of farmers. I suppose there are few persons here present who could tell the exact meaning of a horse's poll, crest, withers, dock, hamstring, cannon, pastern, coronet, arm, jowl and muzzle. Where the literary language speaks of the young  of all sorts of animals, farmers, shepherds, and sportsmen would be ashamed to use so general a term.

The idiom of nomads, as Grimm says, contain an abundant wealth of manifold expressions for sword and weapons, and for the different stages in the life of cattle. In a more highly cultivated language these expressions become burthensome and superfluous. But in a peasant's mouth the bearing, calving, falling and killing of almost every animal has its own peculiar term, as the sportman delights in calling the gait members of game by different names.
 
Thus Dame Juliana Berners, lady prioress of the nunnery of Sopwell, in the fiftenth century, the reputed author of the 'Book of St. Albans,' informs us that we must not use names of multitudes promiscuously, but we are to say: A congregcyon of people, a hoost of men, a felyshyppynge of women, and a bevy of ladyes, we must speak of a herde of hartys, swannys, cranys, or wrennys, a sege of herons, or bytourys, a muster of peacockys, a watch of nyghtyngalys, a flyghte of doves, a claterynge of chouughes, a pryde of lyons, a slewthe of beerys, a gagle of geys, a skulke of foxes, a sculle of frerys, a pontyfycalate of prelates, a bomynable syght of monkes.
 
A dronkenshyp of cobblers, and so of other human and brute assemblages. In like manner in dividing game for the table the animals were not carved, but a dere was broken, a gose reryd, a chekyn frussed, a cony unlacyd, a crane dysplayed, a curlewe unjointyd, a quale wynggyd, a swanne lyfte, a lambe sholderyd, a heron dysmemmbryd, a pecocke dysfygured, a samon chynyd, a hadoke sydyd, a sole loynyd, and a breme splayed" [115. 70].
 
These instances will serve to show how the human intellect feels along the face of the outer world presented to it, attempting a lodgment in each cranny it finds, however slight and precarious may be the hold that it gets. For the mind of man from age to age ceaselessly seeks to master the facts of the outer world; its growth indeed consists in talllying or covering these as ivy spreads over, tallies and covers the stones of a wall; the twig that secures a hold strengthens and puts out other twigs; that which does not secure hold after a time ceases to grow and eventually dies.
 
From these few or that one the enormous number of concepts and words that have since come into existence have proceeded; nor will the evolution of the entire human intellect from a single initial concept seem incredible or even very marvellous, to those who bear in mind that the whole complex human body, with all its tissues, organs and parts, is built up of hundred of millions of cells, each one of which, however much it may differ in structure and function from those belonging to other organs and tissues than its own, is yet lineally descended from the one single primordial cell in which each one of us (and only a few years ago had its origin.
 
As we reach back into the past, therefore, we find language, and with it the human intellect, drawing into a point, and we know that within a measurable distance from where we stand to-day they must have both had their beginning. The date of that beginning has been approximately fixed by many writers and from may indications, and we cannot be far astray in placing it ( rovisionally) about three hundred thousand years anterior to our own times.

Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: A study in the Evolution of the HUman Mind; Richard maurice Bucke

 

Milarepa's World

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Milarepa's World

The Indian master Phadampa Sangye once told Jetsun Milarepa, "your lineage is like a river stream- it will flow a long way." And it has, remaining vital and alive up to the present day. It's no coincidence that Milarepa's extemporaneous teachings in song are receiving attention now from the western world's practitioners., for our religious situation is much like that of Mila's time.

Until the event of Buddhism in Tibet, the people were for the most part religiously naive, following a cult of elaborate ahamanism. As Buddhism began to be assimilated through the teachings of repesentatives of many diverse schools, a process of evaluation, adaptation, and the integration was begun, leaving in its wake a newly awakened religious consciousness.

Likewise in the West, our religious traditions have been established for many centuries as a tacit acceptance of certain beliefs and codes rater than a practice of self-liberation. And here also the impact of the religious systems of the East has lent impetus to the birth of a more comprehensive awareness of our spiritual nature and its potential.

A major element in any time of profound transition is confusion. faced with so many alternatives in belief and practice, the Tibetans brought into paly their basic sense of perspective and inclination toward unity, just as we, with our characteristic drive to ascertain the unifying principles of things, always push forward an integrated, well-ordered view of the universe.

Both cultures have succumbed at times to the same mistakes in assimilating this new material: oversimplification to the point of uselessness, mixing divergent elements instead of integrating them into a unified system, unproductive intellectual speculation, and dogmatic adherence to one interpretation over all others.

During such transitional periods persons of practical bent are primarily concerned with evaluating the various systems of thought to ascertain the "right practice." Milarepa appeared at such a time when a good number of practitioners were so engaged. Some pursued their quest in the large or small groups of monastic institutions, while others, like Milarepa, wandered the mountains and country side in the lifestyle of the Indian sannyasin-long haired, socially aloof, homeless and without possessions, begging in the streets of the villages and meditating in isolated retreats. This is the most significant difference between Milarepa's cultural environment and ours. 

In the Tibet of Milarepa's day as in India before that, there was a social acknowledgment  and even respect for the pursuit of self-realization.  Though it was beyond the scope of most people, a space existed outside the confines of social forms for those who were willing to give up home and possessions for the slim chance of gaining realization. Even with social acceptability life wasn't easy for a yogi of Milarepa's time.

There was competition from other hungry mendicant's and from more established religious institutions. It wasn't always easy to beg a meal from poor peasant who were tired of tending the needs of wild-eyed strangers in their villages. For these villagers Milarepa was a constant wonder and challenge. He entertained them with song, scolded and criticized, cajoled, played sarcastic jokes, and encouraged them with his compassion.

He taught them the straight Dharma, and through all of it shone the uniqueness of his personality, the penetrating intensity of his intellect, and the radiance of his realization. Mila's life and his many exploits are best told in his autobiography and in the Hundred Thousand Songs

He frequently had to explain to himself, and he told his life story many times , as in the first selection in this volume. He was born in 1952 in a small town in provincial Tibet. His family name Mila descended from a paternal ancestor  who was credited with powers of exorcism, and he was given the surname Thopa Ga Joy-to Hear.

Because of his father's successful trading business , his family was wealthy by village standards, but his father's death, while Mila and his younger sister were still children, left them homeless. They were victimized by a paternal aunt and uncle, who forced the mother and her two children  to work as servants and laborers.

Mila left, and on his mother's instruction, went to study with a shaman  skilled in supernormal powers. Mila had a natural bent for mystical things and quickly acquired powers of a destructive nature, particularly that of causing devastating hailstorms. Thus equipped, Mila returned to his village to satisfy his mother's desire for vengeance. He committed the murder of his aunt's entire family and then fled.

Eventually he regretted his actions and the enormous karmic obstruction they perpetrated.

Realizing that this action had to be corrected in this same lifetime to prevent a very unfavourable rebirth, he sought religious instruction in Buddhism.


Reference: Drinking The Mountain Stream-Songs of Tibet's Beloved Saint Milarepa.

 

On the Plane of Self Consciousness - 2

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On the Plane of Self Consciousness - 2

II.
The important fact to notice at present is that, true to the simile of the tree here adopted, the numerous faculties of which (viewed from the side of dynamics) man is composed are all of different ages. Each one of them came inot existence in its own time, 1.e., when the psychic orfanism (the tree) was ready to produce it. For intance: Simple consciousness many millions of years ago; Self Consciousness perhaps three hundred thousand years. General vision in enormously old, but the color sense probably only about a thousand generations. Sensibility to sound many millions of years, while the musical sense is now in the act of appearing. Sexual instinct or passion arose far back in geologic ages-the human moral nature of which human sexual love is a young and vigorous branch does not appear to have been in existence many tens of thousands of years.

III.
To make what has been and what remains to be said more readily and more fully intelligible it will be well to go into some little detail as to the time and mode of becoming and developing of a few faculties as a sample of the divine work that has been going on within us and about us since the dawn of life on this planet.

The science of human psychology (inorder  to illustrate the subject of this volume) should give an account of the human intellect, of the human moral nature, and of the senses. Should give a description of these as they exist to-day, of their origin and evolution and should forecast their future course of either decay or further expansion. Only a very few specimen pages of such a work can be here set forth-and first a hasty glances at the intellect.

The intellect is that part of the mind which knows, as the moral nature is the part that feels. Each particular act of the intellect is instantaneous, whereas the acts ( or rather states) of the moral nature are more or less continuous. Langage corresponds to the intellect and is therefore capable of expressing it perfectly and directly; on the other hand, the functions of the moral nature (belonging, i.e., deriving, as they do, from the great sympathetic  nervous system-while the intellect and speech rest upon and spring from the Cerebro-Spinal) are not connectedwith language and are only capable of indirect and imperfect expression by its agency.

Perhaps music, which certainly has its roots in the moral nature, is, as at present existing, the beginning of a language which will tally and express emotion as words tallyu and express ideas [28a 106]. Intellectual acts are complex, and decomposable into many parts; moral states are either absolutely simple  as in the case of love, fear, hate) or nearly so; that is, are composed of comparatively few elements. All intellectual acts are alike, or nearly alike, in that regard; moral states have a very wide range of degree of intensity.

The human intellect is made up principally of concepts, just as a fores is made up of trees or a city of houses; these concepts are mental images of things, acts, or relations. The registration of these we call memory, the comparison of them one with another reasoning; for the building of these up into more complex images (as bricks are built into a house) we have in English no good expression; we sometimes call this act imagination (the act of forming a mental copy or likeness)-the Germans have a better still Einbildungskraft (the power of building up). The large intellect  is that in which the number of concepts is above the average; the fine intellect is that in which these are clear cut and  well defined; the ready intellect is that in which they are easily and quickly accessible when wanted, and so on.

The growth of the human intellect is the growth of the concepts, i.e., the multiplication of the more simple and at the same time the building up of these into others more and more complex. Although this increase in number and complexity is taking place constantly in every active mind during at least the first half of life, from infancy to middle age, and though we each know that we have concepts now that we had not some time ago, yet probably the wisest of us could not tell from observation made upon his own mind just by waht process these new concepts came into existence-where they came from or how they came.

But though we cannot perceive this by direct observation either of our own mind or that or another person, still there is another way by which the occult process can be followed and that is by means of language. As said above, language is the exact tally of the intellect: for every concept; there is a word or words and for every word there is a concept; neither can exist apart from the other.

So Trench says; " You cannot impart to any man more than the words which he understands either now contain or can be made intelligibly to him to contain". Or as Max Mueller expresses it: "Without speech no reason, without mreason no speeh." Speech and the intellect do not correspond with one anotherin this way by accident, the relation between them is inevitably involved in the nature of two things Or are they two things? or two sides of one thing"  No word can come into being except as the expression of a concept, neither can a new concept can be formed without the formation (at the same time) of the new word which is  its  expression, though this "new word" may be spelled and pronounced as in some old word. But an old word taking on another and a new meaning in reality becomes two words, an old and a new.

Intellect and speech fit one another as the hand and the glove, only far more closely; say rather they fit as the skin fits the body, or as the pia mater fits the brain, or as any given species in the organic world is fitted by its environment. As in implied in what has been said, it is to be especially noted that not only does language fit the intellect in the sense of covering it in every part and following all its turnings and windings, but it fits it also in the sense of not going beyond it. Words correspond with concepts, and with concepts only, so that we cannot express directly with either sense impressions or emotions, but are forced always to convey these (if at all) by expressing, not themselves, but the impressions they make upon our intellect, i.e., the concepts formed from the contemplation of them by the intellect-Cosmic consciousness, intellect-in other words, their intellectual image.

So that before a sense impression or an emotion can be embodied or conveyed in language a concept has to be formed  (supposed more or less truly to represent it), which concept can, of course, be conveyed in words.  But as a matter of fact ninety-nine out of every hundred of our sense impressions and emotions have never been represented in the intellect by concepts and therfore remain unexpressed and inexpressible except imperfectly by a roundabout description and suggestion.

There exists in the lower animals a state of matters which serves well to illustrate this proposition. These have acute sense perceptions and strong emotions, such as fear, rage, sexual passion and maternal love, and yet cannot express thembecause they have no language of their own, and the animals in question have no system of concepts with corresponding articulate sounds. Granted to us our sense perceptions  and our human moral natures and we should be as dumb as are the animals had we not along with these an intellect in which they may be mirrored and by which, by means of language, they can be expressed.

As the correspondence of words and concepts is not casual or temporary but resides in the nature of these and continues during all time and under all circumstances absolutely constant, so changes in one of the factors must correspond with changes in the other. So evolution of intellect must (if it exists) be accompanied by evolution of language. An evolution of language (if it exists) will be evidence of evolution of intellect. What then is here proposed is to study (for a few moments) the growth pof the intellect by means of an examination of language, i.e., to study the birth, life, and growth of concepts which cannot be seen,  means of words which are their co-relatives and which can be seen.

Reference: Cosmic Consciousness: Richard Maurice Bucke

 

 

The Human Condition - 5

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The Human Condition - 5

That is why St. Paul could say, "What I want to do, I don't do. And what I don't want to do I find myself doing" ( Rom 7:15ff). If we don't face the consequences of unconscious motivation - through a practice of discipline that opens us to the unconscious-then that motivation will secretly influence our decisions all through our lives.

One needs a willingness to be exposed to the unconscious. This requires some courage and persistence. We can't call up the unconscious at will. With the help of psychotherapy, we might be able to call up some of it. The dark nights described by St. John of the Cross go much deeper. Normally, emotions need to be expressed in some way in order to be processed. Emotions are energy. If they are not processed, they become blocks in our bodies and nervous systems to the free flow of our energy systems of grace.

When we are not thinking, analyzing, or planning and place ourselves in the presence of God in faith, we open ourselves to the contents of the unconscious. We should do this gradually so as not to be overtaken by an overwhelming explosion of emotion. A generation ago, in the psychedelic era, people opened themselves to the unconscious before they had the humility or the devotion to God to be able to handle it. The unconscious needs tp be respected and approached with prudence.

Some one who is involved in contemplative prayer practice needs guidance. It may not be available in every spiritual guide who comes along. What matters most is fidelity to the daily practice of a contemplative form of prayer such as Centering Prayer. This gradually exposes us to unconscious at a rate that we can handle and places us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Divine love then prepares us to receive the maximum that God can possibly communicate of his inner light. Besides the dark side of the unconscious, there are all kinds of other awesome energies-for example, natural talents, the fruits of the Spirit, the seven gifts of the Spirit, and the divine indwelling self-that we haven't experienced yet and that are waiting to be discovered.

It is never too late to start the spiritual journey or to start over, and it is worth starting over any number of times. If you are over eighty, you will be happy to know that there is an accelerated course. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the course of dying, there are all kinds of transforming experiences.

 


What God is after are our good intention and our efforts in this life, but just keep trying. The contemplative journey, because it involves the purification of the unconscious, is not a magic carpet to bliss. It is an exercise of letting go of the false self, a humbling processes, because it is the only self we know.

God approaches us from many different perspectives; illness, misfortune, bankruptcy, divorce proceedings, rejection, inner trials. God has not promised to take away our trials, but to help us to change our attitudes toward them. That is what holiness really is. In this life, Happiness is rooted in our basic attitude toward reality.

Sometimes a sense of failure is a great means to true humility, which is what God most looks for in us. I realize this is not the language of success, but we have oversubscribed to that language. We need to hear about the interior freedom that comes through participation in the sufferings of Christ, the symbol of God's love for everyone on earth.

In the coming millennium, religious leaders and spiritual teachers might consider as their primary responsibility not so much to convert new constituents or new followers to a particular form of meditation, but to create communion-harmony, understanding, and a respect for everyone in the human family, especially the members of other religions.

In the world that lies ahead, religious pluralism is going to penetrate all cultures. How we live together with different points of view is going to become more and more important. I don't know whether we can make progress in such a project without a contemplative practice that alterts us to our own biases, prejudices, and self-centred programs for happiness, especially when they trample on other people's rights and needs.

Some people enter religious life looking for the family they never had. But religious life isn't that kind of family. Some people get married because they want the mother who did the laundry and provided a shoulder to cry on. Many people who enter marriage are too immature to handle its responsibilities. That is why they often break up and have to start over. But if they are not aware of the unconscious factors that caused the breakdown of the first marriage, they will just bring the same problems into the next marriage.

The false self is looking for fame, power, wealth, and prestige. The unconscious is very powerful until the divine light of the Holy Spirit penetrates to its depths and reveals its dynamics. Here is where the great teaching of the dark nights of St. John of the Cross corresponds to depth psychology, only the work of the Holy Spirit goes far deeper.

Instead of trying to free us from what interferes with our ordinary human life, the Spirit calls us to transformation of our inmost being, and indeed of all our faculties, into the divine way of being and acting..

Reference:The Human Condition: Thomas keating

Drinking From The Mountain Stream - Milarepa

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Drinking From The Mountain Stream - Milarepa

Preface
by Lama Rinpoche - formerly Thartse Shabthung of Ngor Monastery Tibet
 
Songs of Tibets Beloved Saint
All the water and drink you've consumed, through beginningless time until now, Has failed to slake thirst or bring you contentment. Drink therefore this stream Of enlightenment mind, fortunate ones. - Milarepa 

MILAREPA is one of the most celebrated spiritual teachers of all time. He was not only an eminent leader of the Kagyupa lineage, but also a very important teacher for all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He was a star of early Buddhism in Tibet, and a brilliant star of yoga that shines on the path of Dharma today. Certainly he was not a paranoid man who left society and hid in the corners of deep caves. In fact, he was an adventurer who reached the summit of the high mountain with a panoramic view of samsara (samsara). He was a true warrior who succeeded in conquering the real enemy, thus becoming a savior of beings.
 
He was a man of three powers. His body was equivalent to the body of Vajrapani, his voice was the voice of Manjustri, and his hearing was the hearing of Avalokitesvara. Milarepa was healthy, vital man of matchless endurance in the search for liberation. His voice was beautiful and capable of rendering anything in spontaneous song, and with it he expressed the essence of the Buddha's Dharma in ways understandable to all types of listener. His hearing was a penetrating as Avalokitesvara's, the compassionate bodhisattva the Tibetans call Chenrezi, who attends to the voices of all living beings.
 
There is a saying among common people of Tibet, "In the forest the baboons and monkeys are more agile. In the barnyard the cows and sheep are most stupid. In the mountains Milarepa is the most skillful in meditation." As I said, Milarepa was a very illustrious yogi in Tibet, and perhaps the best known in the rest of the world. When his guru Marpa Lotsawa went to India to study with Naropa, Naropa said to him , "you should know that in the future you will have a disciple who will excel even his own teacher. The son is greater than the father, and the grandson will be greater than all of us." He then folded both hands together at his chest, bowed in the direction of Tibet, and saluted the future yogi Milarepa with this verse:
 
I bow to that buddha, Named "Mila Who Is Joy To Hear", Shining like the sun on snow peaks In the dark gloom of the Land of Snows
 

 
Milarepa sang many songs in his lifetime. It is said that most of them were stolen by the dakinis. It seems that Mila was a popular teacher among non humans also! The particular collection of songs we have translated for these pages has never been rendered into western language before. We were very fortunate to have come across this rare and precious book to to have been able to translate it through the auspices of Lotsawa and Ewam Choden center.
 
If the reader is expecting something like a magical and instantaneous reward from these pages, I would say that it is rather difficult-do something else. These pages are just not a collection of entertaining short stories. It should be read like a road map while traveling through unfamiliar inner roads on the way to the central valley of the fully aware mind where you can peacefully camp out. It is not like tantalizing a child with the sight of plastic toys just out of reach. This is the real thibg-like a child being nourished by a good mother. So read these pages carefully with the alert attention of a traveler.However, everything will not be immediately understandable.
 
When traveling by map and reaching an unfamiliar town one must stop and get detailed information of the locality that is not clear on the map. Similarly, the reader of these pages should find asistance to get all the meanings of these songs, a special teacher who is skilled  in this particular subject. The pages, the reader, and the teacher together might produce something of value, something useful. It's good to read this kind of pages, but studying it is better. And better yet is to extract its significance and apply it in practice.
 
I'm very grateful to my co-translator, Brian Cutillo, whose knowledge of Tibetan and the subjects of Buddhism and whose experience in translating Buddhist works have made this collaboration successful. I am grateful also to those who have helped in this work, particularly Vivian Sinder and James Wallace in the development and editing of Drinking the Mountain Stream as a book. Acarya Losang Jamspal for clarification of a number of points in my absence, and Nathan Swin for furnishing the Tibetan Xylograph.
 
I sincerely wish that all readers of these songs of Milarepa find the inspiration to practice and ultimately realize the true meaning of HUman life. These pages are dedicated to the work of Ewam Choden and to religious practitioners everywhere.
 
Reference: Translated by Lama Kunga Rinpoche & Brian Cutillo 

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