(Continued from Part 1.)
The Trimurthy of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is not a variation on the basic theme of stillness and movement. It’s not the same as the Hindu Trinity of Brahman, Atman and Shakti, which is itself the same as the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
If we put this in the form of an equation, we could say that Brahman, Atman and Shakti = Father, Son and Holy Ghost ≠ Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
To explain what the Trimurthy relates to, we have to look more closely at the nature of the Divine Mother.
The movement that Mother God is is a sine wave called Aum or Amen.
It’s composed of three phases: (1) an upward slope, which calls matter into existence, and is called by Hindus Akar. This is the creative phase and is called a guna or cosmic force of rajas. Brahma is the personification of this creative phase of Aum, as Sri Shankara and the Divine Mother confirmed for me some time ago, on An Hour with an Angel. (2)
The second phase is the top of the sine wave Aum, which preserves matter for a while, and is called by Hindus Ukar. This is the guna of sattwa, personified as Vishnu.
The third phase is the downward slope of the sine wave Aum, which transforms or destroys matter, returning it to the Void from which it came, and is called by Hindus Makar. This is the guna of thamas, personified as Shiva.
So Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, or rajas, sattwa, and thamas, are a subset of the Mother’s movement as Aum, the Sphota, the Sound-Brahman, or Sabda-Brahman, which Christians call the Word of God. (3) They are not a pairing of stillness and movement per se though each is given a consort, reminding us of the original pairing of God as stillness and as movement.
Everything that exists is “real” at its own level of frequency but not real at a higher level with the exception of the transcendent God. Hinduism has dualists, who worship God as being outside themselves, separately existing, and able to be objectified. And it has non-dualists who usually recognize nothing else as real than God (or the Self). God to the non-dualist is the only subject and only the subject exists and is real. (4)
When this distinction is carried too far, ignoring the fact that God can appear in any way it wishes, God may allow the seeker an experience that corrects the limitation that the student is placing on God. One of the most dramatic instances of that in Hindu literature, for me, is the awakening of the rigorously non-dualist guru of Sri Ramakrishna, Totapuri, to the “reality” of the Mother.
Totapuri scorned Sri Ramakrishna for his worship of the Mother, whom he called “maya” or illusion. He would say to the latter:
“Whatever is within the domain of maya is unreal. Give it up. Destroy the prison-house of name and form and rush out of it with the strength of a lion. Dive deep in search of the Self and realize It through samadhi. You will find the world of name and form vanishing into void, and the puny ego dissolving in Brahman-Consciousness.” (5)
This advice was difficult for Sri Ramakrishna to follow. But for a brief moment he did and realized the transcendent Brahman as a consequence.
Sri Ramakrishna has only just met Totapuri and asks him to introduce him to non-dualism, It took Ramakrishna only three days of listening to his new guru to realize the unconditioned Brahman. Here Totapuri initiates his precocious student:
“After the initiation, [my guru] began to teach me the various conclusions of the Advaita Vedanta and asked me to withdraw the mind completely from all objects and dive deep into the Atman.
“But in spite of all my attempts I could not altogether cross the realm of name and form and bring my mind to the unconditioned state. I had no difficulty in taking the mind from all the objects of the world. But the radiant and too familiar figure of the Blissful Mother, the Embodiment of the Essence of Pure Consciousness, appeared before me as a living reality.
“Her bewitching smile prevented me from passing into the Great Beyond. Again and again I tried, but She stood in my way every time. In despair I said to Nangta [Totapuri]:
“‘It is hopeless. I cannot raise my mind to the unconditioned state and come face to face with Atman.’
“He grew excited and sharply said: ‘What? You can’t do it? But you have to.’ He cast his eyes around. Finding a piece of glass he took it up and stuck it between my eyebrows. ‘Concentrate the mind on this point!’ he thundered.
“Then with stern determination I again sat to meditate. As soon as the gracious form of the Divine Mother appeared before me, I used my discrimination as a sword and with it clove Her in two. The last barrier fell. My spirit at once soared beyond the relative plane [to the absolute] and I lost myself in samadhi.” (6)
In case we think this is the end of the story and Totapuri had proven his point that the Mother or maya does not exist, the Mother had a surprise in store for him. Totapuri considered that he had accomplished everything in life he wished to and now wanted to end his existence and return to God. He stepped into a river to kill himself but the Mother would not allow him to do so.
“Suddenly, in one dazzling moment, [Totapuri] sees on all sides the presence of the Divine Mother.
“She is in everything; She is everything. She is in the water; She is on land. She is the body; She is the mind. She is pain; She is comfort. She is knowledge; She is ignorance. She is life; She is death.
“She is everything that one sees, hears, or imagines. She turns ‘yea’ into ‘nay’; and ‘nay’ into ‘yay’. Without Her grace no embodied being can go beyond Her realm.
“Man has no free will. He is not even free to die. Yet, again, beyond the body and mind She resides in her Transcendental, Absolute aspect. She is the Brahman that Totapuri has been worshipping all his life.” (7)
While Totapuri was ultimately right in his conclusions, he had failed to account for the relative reality of the Divine Mother and had become arrogant in his non-dualist views. Seeing the power of the Mother humbled him and made him more tolerant of the various paths to God.
God cannot be limited. God can remain invisible as the Void, the Way of Lao-Tzu, or the emptiness into which everything dissolves or God can manifest Itself as the Mother, as a form of God like Vishnu, as an avatar like Sri Ramakrishna, or in any other way it chooses. No form of God, no absence of form should be discounted because God is everything and all, omnipresent and omnipotent.
That having been said the basic pattern God assumes is a variation on stillness and movement, what Jesus called “a movement and a rest.” (8) God is the Self and God is the No-Self. We leapfrog from one experience of the Self to another of the No-Self and then to a more refined experience of the Self and then again of the No-Self. But always it is God alone we experience, at higher and higher levels of Reality.
We are God and we are not God: both statements are true in their realm of applicability. And the whole truth will never be answered for us because, by the time the answer comes, we’ll have ceased to be.
(1) “The Aum vibration that reverberates throughout the universe (the “Word” or “voice of many waters” of the Bible) has three manifestations or gunas, those of creation, preservation, and destruction.” (Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi. Bombay: Jaico, 1975. BA: So, 17.)
“The Hindus speak of this ‘Holy Ghost’ as the ‘Aum’. ‘A’ stands for ‘Akar’ or creative vibration; ‘U’ stands for ‘Ukar’ or preservative vibration; and ‘M’ for ‘Makar’ or destructive vibration. “(Paramahansa Yogananda, The Second Coming of Christ. Three vols. Dallas: Amrita Foundation, 1979-86, 1, 15-16.) [Hereafter SCC.]
“The pranava [cosmic sound of Aum] is Omkara [form of Aum] consisting of three and a half matras, viz., a, u, m, and ardha-matra. of these, a stands for the waking state, Visva-jiva, and the gross body; u stands for the dream-state Taijasa-jiva, and the subtle body; m stands for the sleep-state, Prajnajiva and the causal body; the ardha-matra represents the Turiya which is the self or ‘I’-nature; and what is beyond that is the state of Turiyatita, or pure Bliss.” (Ramana Maharshi, Self-Enquiry. Trans. T.M.P. Mahadevan. http://www.realization.org/page/namedoc0/self/self_0.htm Downloaded 1 August 2005., answer to question 28.)
The Turiya is Brahmajnana, God-realization, seventh-chakra enlightenment. The Turiyatita or overcomer of the Turiya has reached sahaja samadhi, a permanent heart opening, which we will upon ascension.
(2) “Holy Ghost, Aum of the Hindus, the Mohammedan Amin, the Christian Amen, Voice of Many Waters, Word are the same thing. Aum is called the word because the word signifies cosmic intelligent vibratory sound which is the origin of all sounds and languages. This intelligent cosmic vibration or word is the first manifestation of God in creation.”(Paramahansa Yogananda, SCC, 1, 19.)
“All this expressed, sensible universe is the form, and behind it stands the eternal, the inexpressible Sphota, the manifester, as Logos or Word. This eternal Sphota, the essential and eternal material of all ideas or names, is the power through which the Lord creates the universe. Nay, the Lord first becomes conditioned as the Sphota and then evolves Himself as the yet more concrete sensible universe. This Sphota has one word as its only possible symbol, and this is Om. And as we can by no possible means of analysis separate the word from the idea, Om and the eternal Sphota are inseparable; and therefore it is out of this holiest of all holy words, the mother of all names and forms, the eternal Om, that the whole universe may be supposed to have been created. … Therefore this Sphota is called the Nada-Brahman, the Sound-Brahman.” (Vivekananda in Swami Nikhilananda, trans. Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1953, 422.)
(4) For simplicity’s sake, I’m leaving out the qualified non-dualists.
“Here lies the whole difference between Advaita [Non-dualism] and other philosophies. In Advaita all is nothing but the Self. … There are no degrees.” (Sadhu Arunachala [A.W. Chadwick], A Sadhu’s Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi. Tiruvannamalai: Sri Ramanasramam, 1961., 61.)
“Although [Advaita is] the ultimate doctrine and [Self-Enquiry is] the supreme and most direct path, this, throughout the ages, has not been the most popular, because for most people it seemed too austere and difficult.” (Anon., “Intro” to Ramana Maharshi in Anon., “Introduction” to Ramana Maharshi, Five Hymns to Sri Arunachala. Sixth edition.)
“The experiencing of the integral, unitary process frees the mind from its dualism. Thus the total process of the mind, the open as well as the hidden, is experienced and understood — not piece by piece, activity by activity, but in its entirety.” (J. Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living. First Series. Bombay, etc.: B.I. Publications, 1972; c197., 1, 69.)
“Brahman and the Primal Energy at first appear to be two. But after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman one does not see the two. Then there is no differentation; it is One, without a second — Advaita — non-duality.” (Paramahansa Ramakrishna in Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 242.) [Hereafter GSR.]
(5) Totapuri in GSR, 28.
(6) PR in GSR, 29. Advaita Vedanta – The sacred books of the Hindus that deal with the non-dual knowledge. These include the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita and others. Nangta: The naked one. Totapuri had no possessions to speak of, save a water bowl and loincloth.
(7) Nikhilananda in GSR, 31.
(8) A. Guillaumont et al. The Gospel According to Thomas. New York and Evanston: Harper and Row, 1959, 29.