The Cosmic Vision

From The Golden Collection 4, A collection of original publications from the Bihar Yoga Tradition

No amount of theoretical exposition as to the nature of the world, God and of the human mind swayed by desire can ever bring home the realization of the ultimate truth that nothing exists in this universe which is real, that the soul alone is the eternal reality. It requires an actual experience of a sublime mystical character to carry such a conviction to the human understanding. Where doubts prevail, disbelief in the ultimate reality which is unseen and unseeable persists, where the mind is tossed to and fro on the stormy sea of desires, where the intellect remains paralyzed due to the entanglements in the meshes of a complicated existence, where the heart is parched by longing after the mirage of happiness – where in brief the human personality is completely disrupted from all sides, such an experience can only be achieved through the grace of a great guru, symbolizing in flesh and blood, the glory and the expression of the Supreme.

We have seen the state of Arjuna's mind and the methods indicated by that greatest teacher, Sri Krishna, to resolve the moral crisis in which he was involved. His intellectual confusion was dispelled through the sublime exposition on the immutability of the soul and the mutability of the world. His physical lassitude and inertia were treated by means of a correct and a true exposition of the nature and kinds of actions, the supreme need for doing them and of the kind of attitude to be developed towards them. His emotional tensions, arising out of an uncontrolled upheaval within, were resolved by showing the way to channel the emotions and centre them around devotion to God. In the course of the discussion as to the form, the nature and method of such a devotion, it was explained that the unmanifest was a matter of realization only and could not be comprehended by the finite mind and the intellect, and therefore, the seeker after truth must first slowly and gradually develop an eye to see the presence of the divine in the diversity about him. The divine glory is ever present and can be seen by one whose vision is pure and unsullied by the impurities of the world.

Sri Krishna set at rest the mind of Arjuna by pointing out that the glory of the Supreme was perceptible to the human eye and comprehensible by the human mind, and a heart full of love and devotion can see the manifestations of the divine everywhere. Nothing that exists in this world, whether animate or inanimate, is devoid of His glory. The good and the bad are the divisions of the same reality made by the human mind according to its sense of values, but in the realm of the spirit there is only the one abiding reality. The Supreme manifests himself in the light of the sun and the moon, in the smell of the earth, in the goodness of the good as in the wickedness of the bad, in and through all the created things. Whether it be a sage or a hero, a river or a mountain, a fish or a crocodile, where it is the justice of the just or the injustice of the wicked, in and through all the spheres of existence, physical, mental and emotional, He manifests Himself through these bewilderingly varied forms of His expression. Sri Krishna, therefore, asks Arjuna to look not at the surface of things, but to realize that at the depths of all things, there abides the immanent and all-pervading reality. It is not for the finite mind to dissect and analyse, doubt and disbelieve things which it can never comprehend except by and through an inner experience. It was a matter of inward awareness, not of intellectual comprehension.

The confusion in the mind of Arjuna, who it must be remembered was an enlightened soul desirous of reaching the highest state, was thus slowly resolved and the inner light began to give him a glimpse into the real nature of things. And so he longed to realize in experience this unity in the apparent diversity, this actual functioning of that great immutable law at the behest of a sovereign power, that created, destroyed and recreated a multitude of worlds. Thus enlightened, Arjuna was on the threshold of a deep and mystic experience. And when in the sovereign moments of existence, a rare moment comes when the heart and the mind with a single-minded purpose and devotion long for a great and stupendous spiritual experience with a sincere and pure heart, the grace of God descends and that moment has to be seized or it never recurs.

That great moment for Arjuna had come, he was standing on the frontiers of two worlds – one of his immediate surroundings rapidly receding in the distance, the other one of supreme beauty and grandeur about to be opened before him. At that supremely beautiful moment, when amidst the travails and anguish of the soul he surrendered himself at the feet of the Divine, or in other words when the extrovert mind turned totally inward and reached the near-self stage, away from the distractions of the world of sense–consciousness and dwelt deep within, an effulgent splendour was made visible. Sri Krishna saw the deep unquenchable longing in the depths of Arjuna's being and gave him the divine vision. This divine eye is not a mere physical phenomenon but it is the awakening of the 'third eye', the eye of knowledge or the eye of illumination, which is opened only when the entire being of man completely works in harmony with the great cosmic law, when self-effacement, self-surrender, and self-denial are complete.

The grace of God descends in such circumstances upon the aspiring human soul and the little limited ego, within whose narrow confines the faculties were functioning, assuming doership and enjoyership, dividing, differentiating and distinguishing, piece by piece, individual units out of a complete whole; it is transformed and becomes the seer, a witness of the stupendous drama of creation. The mystic experience of infinite grandeur and majesty which Arjuna was given is the result of the awakening of the inner awareness of the supremacy and the all-pervasiveness of the Self. There Arjuna saw visions not only of sublime beauty but also of hideous terror. He realized that the one whom he regarded as his friend and charioteer was the Supreme, shining with the effulgent splendour of a thousand suns, pervading the entire universe consisting of those multitudes of worlds of which the scriptures speak. He was the one whose glories were sung through the infinite time by sages and illumined souls. He was 'the supreme container of all, containing everything in him and yet not contained in entirety in any', He was the great Kala, the devourer of everything in the creation and in the inward awareness of his illumined self. Arjuna saw with speechless wonder the entire universe being ground down by the fierce teeth of the terrible manifestation of the Supreme in the form of Kala.

The majesty of the vision that Arjuna saw was indescribable, for it was something that transcended the realms of the mind and speech; it was an inner mystic experience, the grand sublimity of which could only be expressed in the silence of a chastened spirit. The senses and their play were silenced; the manipulations of the restless mind were also silenced in awe and wonder, and no wonder, therefore, that when that experience of serene spiritual unity of all created things with the source of all things was felt, the heart of Arjuna was bowed down with wonder, awe and supreme humility and he realized in actual experience that the Supreme was the ultimate reality towards which the entire creation moved governed by a great immutable law, and that he was only a unit in this cosmic chain and had to play his part as the instrument of the divine.

When the illumined eye of the yogi – and here Arjuna was for the moment the yogi, who had reached the near-ultimate state of union with the Supreme self – sees himself established in the self, sees that the world of names and forms emanates from the self by the projection of His omnipotent power, it loses all its significance. For through such an experience of an exalted nature, he realizes that the power which he sees functioning is not separate from the self and that the ultimate and right relationship is with the self and self alone and not with the world, which is only a phase of the projection of the mind, with its tendencies running uncontrolled. He sees that there is an 'inward centre in us all where truth abides in fullness' (Browning), and that this identification with the self-created world and self-imagined concepts of right action and wrong action, of sin and sinlessness, of good and bad, were merely assessments of values by means of supremely mundane and finite standards. In other words what happened was the cosmicization of the ego, which surrendered its separate individuality and resolved back to its source, the self.

Such a cosmic vision which Arjuna had with the grace of the divine was nothing but the awakening of the inward awareness, the opening of the intuitive eye of knowledge, the ritambhara prajna, of the yogi, which illumines the essential nature of everything. Arjuna's experience was nothing but one sovereign moment of an existence when the mind and the senses resolve back to their source, where the thought processes were silenced and the entire being was attuned to the highest. When such a realization comes, the seeker is absolved from the results of all actions, for the mind and the senses having finished their respective functions of bringing the individual self to the stage of union cease to function. It was a case of dwelling within, of release from the state of involvement with prakriti and its laws.

Such a vision comes only to a rare soul whose entire being is completely surrendered to the Supreme and whose actions, mental, intellectual and spiritual are done, devoid of ego as a sacrifice at the altar of the Supreme. In such a state where the mind ceases to exist, there remain neither intellectual confusions nor emotional incongruity. The basis of discord in the mind of Arjuna is thus removed when he realized the real nature of his own self and stood firmly established in it. This indeed is the pledge of the Lord in the Gita (18:66):

Renounce all things foreign to thy nature and resolve thyself unto Me; then shall I release thee from all sin – grieve not.

—Swami Satyananda Saraswati, 6 November, 1964