Last week we explored about the awareness meditation, how to practice it, the various hindrances that are faced while practicing it, how to suspend or relinquish these hindrances, Buddha’s four noble truth and his eight-fold path. In continuation to this discussion on mindfulness, let us further understand how to break the cycle of cause and effect, what is Shunyata, how to achieve liberation, etc.
Mitigation of Karmic Effects
It is difficult for anyone to pay back for all his karmic debts only by suffering (to get liberation). In this way he will be always in the cycle of cause and effect. There are other means to mitigate the karmic effects. The karmic effect will take place only at a suitable time and place. By mitigating, you avoid the time or place or both and the effect gets nullified. The main means to achieve this is through service, deeper knowledge of the causes, meditation or a combination of these.
It must be highlighted that good or bad Karma is generated by good or bad thought, feeling, speech or action. In fact, it is the thought (mental action), which is more potent and it mostly depends on feeling. Speech and actions are only the consequence. The meditation referred in the eight-fold path mitigates the karmic effects. One must know the functioning of mind to understand this.
The mind has four major segments. The first segment is cognition. With this the mind gets the inputs from the five senses and the thought. The next segment is perception. Based on the past experience and memory, the mind perceives the input broadly as good or bad. The third segment is sensation. There is a pleasant or unpleasant sensation in the body depending on the perception (of good or bad). The last segment is reaction. You start liking or disliking the input depending on the sensation.
Suppose sound (words) come in contact with ears. In the first segment the mind knows just that the sound has come. Next the sound (words) is perceived as good or bad. If the words are of praise, then there is a pleasant sensation in the body and if the words are of abuse, then there is an unpleasant sensation. In the last segment you start liking or disliking the words (reaction) depending on the pleasant or unpleasant sensation. Similar will be the case for inputs to other sense organs or thought.
The reaction is like making a fresh Karma. It is like putting the seed in fertile soil with required water. It will grow into a tree and the tree bears a fruit and there come the seeds again. If you do not react to the sensations, then it is like throwing the seed on a rock. It is end of it! There is hardly any time between perception and reaction. You rarely realize the sensations of the body, which lie between perception and reaction. This is not only because of the time factor, but also because these sensations are very low in intensity. It is said that the mind multiplies the body sensation by million or trillion fold to make the reaction.
You become aware of these mild body sensations in deep meditation. If you become equanimous to the sensation and do not react nor suppress, it will slowly vanish by being aware, like a seed thrown on the rock (it will perish). The next sensation may come from another input. Similarly, if you do not react, it also vanishes. Slowly, the sensations change from course to subtler ones and they vanish as thoughts and inputs are eliminated or not cognized. So, you stop making any more fresh karma. It is something like slowly reducing the speed of the wheel of suffering and stopping it. Now the wheel goes into the reverse direction towards liberation by attempting to nullify the stored reactions of the past.
Like body requires food for survival, the mind requires sensations. Once the food is cut off to the body, it uses up stored fats. Similarly, as there are no more sensations (as the wheel has stopped), the mind picks up the stored reactions (past karmic effects), thus causing the body sensation. If one does not react to this new sensation, the stored reaction is eliminated. This process continues till all the stored reactions are completed (the wheel stops again). At any stage, if you react to any sensation, you once again make fresh karma (the wheel moves forward again). So, by being equanimous and not reacting to any sensations, you end the suffering and get liberation.
The concept of Shunyata or voidness is put forward by many in different forms. With scientific developments, some of the earlier observations have been authenticated. Based on this, attempt is being made to explain this concept. Let us think of our planet Earth. It is very big; you cannot see it fully, being on it. Compared to Earth, Sun is very big. Going further, our Solar System itself is equivalent to a small point in our Milky Way galaxy. There are many millions of such galaxies. All I am talking about is matter. It naturally appears that there is a huge amount of matter (unimaginable) in the Universe. But, think of the space in between the galaxies or in between the planets or in between the Sun and the Earth. The void space is much more than the matter.
Think of the space between the Sun and Earth. Earth may be big, Sun may be very big; but the voidness in between is much larger and thus the sizes of both Earth and Sun are negligible. It is scientifically estimated that when Sun collapses into its own gravity at the end of its life cycle, the diameter of the Sun will be about 8 Kms. That means matter is negligible compared to the voidness or Shunyata.
Next, let us investigate the negligible matter which is in the form of solid, liquid and gas. The matter is made up of molecules. Each molecule is made up of one or more atoms. They form a structure by various bonds. What is there in an atom? It has a nucleus in the center having protons and neutrons (which accounts for almost total mass of the atom) surrounded by electrons in various orbits (like a Solar System at micro level). The nucleus and of course electrons are negligible in size compared to the size of the atom with various orbits. So it is more of voidness in the atom and very less matter within the atom itself. Atom was considered to be the smallest particle. A scientist long time back said, "If it is the smallest one, then I will cut into two". People must have laughed at him at that time. His statement has two meanings. Nothing which is physical can be smallest. That means the smallest thing could be in the form of energy.
In the beginning of 20th century, clairvoyance of Annie Besant and Leadbeater were used to find out the smallest group of particles in each element. They found that Hydrogen was having 18 Particles in the smallest group and as they went to other elements, the number increased and in Radium they counted a precise number of over 4000 particles in the smallest group. The gap between the particles was much more than the size of the particles. The findings were recorded with repeated experiments. They further focused on to study the nature of the smallest particle. They found that the smallest particle in any element was similar and was rotating like a hollow top in spiral form with precise number of over 400 spirals.
Subsequently, the scientists did not consider the findings to be valid. Firstly, they expected Hydrogen to have only two particles in the smallest group (Hydrogen molecule consists of two atoms of Hydrogen) and not 18 particles. Secondly, they expected the particles in different elements to be different in size (because atoms of different elements are different and not similar. It is only recently (in 1990s), science has proven that proton, neutron and electron, which make the atom, are in fact made up of particles named as quarks. They have clockwise and anticlockwise spin characteristics. The number of quarks in Hydrogen atom is nine and in its molecule is eighteen. The number of quarks in the atom of each element is exactly same as the number of smallest particles in the earlier finding using clairvoyance. The quarks are like smallest positive and negative energy units depending on direction of spin.
Science has still not been able to say how a quark actually looks like. But with the above background, we can believe that it looks like a hollow rotating top. At this stage we can theoretically say that if you have the capability to see quarks in your vicinity, you can also manipulate them. That means you can attempt to change one element to other. Einstein proved mathematically that matter is a form of energy. But no one could physically understand this earlier. Hence, all living beings are also a form of energy. Therefore, energy-based healing systems (Like, Yoga Prana Vidya, Pranic Healing, Acupressure, Magneto Therapy, etc.) are efficient means of healing, if understood and done correctly.
Further, matter in the form of quarks is energy and energy itself is ungraspable and is analogous to Shunyata. If we extend the theory, we can say "Energy is Shunyata" instead of saying Energy is analogous to Shunyata. Think what could be a final result of bringing two oppositely spinning quarks together? It may or may not result in a huge explosion or a huge suction or a combination of the two or repetition of combination of two, but the final result would be that two quarks would nullify or cancel each other. Finally nothing would be left out. That means energy is Shunyata. The matter which is nothing but energy is also Shunyata and the space between matter was as such Shunyata. Therefore, everything in reality is actually Shunyata.
This can be said as scientific or intellectual understanding of Shunyata. But you must realize this state through meditation. One who realizes this is an Arhat. So, Arhat is one for whom Shunyata is a state of direct experience. This is also called development of wisdom eye. What we have is a physical eye which can only see an extremely narrow spectrum of wave lengths, lying approximately between 300 to 700 nano meters in the electromagnetic spectrum. We cannot see the wavelengths in infrared above and in ultra violet below. Similarly, we hear only a small band of sound waves. We cannot hear sound waves vibrating near zero frequencies and above 20,000 cycles/sec. A person who can see in the infrared and or ultra violet spectrum or having microscopic or telescopic vision is considered as possessing a heavenly eye. He is also called a clairvoyant. With the same analogy a person who can hear sound waves near zero frequencies and/ or above 20,000 cycles/sec or having increased range of hearing can be said to be having clair-audience faculty.
Other points of view on Shunyata
What is Shunya? It means nothing. It is not a thing that can be perceived by the physical senses. It is non-physical. But it is essence of everything that manifests. This essence or Thatvam of the Divine at its lowest level is Divine Spark or Paramatma. A small portion of the triple aspect of Paramatma extend down as an Individualized Higher Soul or Atma having triple aspect as Atma, Budhi and Higher Manas in Atmic, Buddhic or Intuitional and Causal or Higher Mental planes. The lowest part of this Higher Soul manifesting in the Causal or Higher Mental plane is called Jivatma or Incarnated Soul. This Jivatma or Incarnated Soul from this Causal plane extends into Personality into three aspects again, into the three bodies called the lower mental body in the Mental plane, emotional or astral body in the Emotional plane and physical including etheric body in the Physical plane. So, our incarnation in is three bodies. We must identify ourselves as the Incarnated Soul using the bodies including the physical body.
When we transit the physical body, our journey continues in the emotional and mental bodies. Further after transiting from the emotional body, the journey continues in the lower mental body. The length of stay in these higher bodies depends on many factors, especially on the development of the soul. When you transit the lower mental body and move to the causal body, one incarnation is complete. Again for the next incarnation, you will extend down into lower mental, emotional and physical bodies for further evolution. This process continues at least till full Arhatship is achieved. At this stage, you will have direct perception of reality, you will possess wisdom eye!
That means, the soul or Jivatma for its evolution incarnates again and again from the causal body. Ultimately this Jivatma becomes a Maha-Atma and achieves greater union with the Higher Soul and is considered Soul-Realized and Arhat-hood begins. When this Maha-Atma realizes certain degree of oneness with the Divine Spark or Paramatma, (that means he starts realizing the Essence or Shunya), he is a full or Senior Arhat at this stage. Higher degree of alignment with the Divine Spark is also known as Holy Master or God Realized or is said to have achieved Nirvana (Maha Vakya from Vedas: THATVAMASI). The path continues. The requirement of physical birth is no more there now. But still, few of them come down because of Great Compassion as Masters or Holy Masters and even from Paramatma level as Avatars for helping humanity.
Ahead of Shunyata
You may tend to remain at the state of Shunyata. This results in attachment to Shunyata itself. One who further comes out of such attachment and utilizes his awareness to help and lead mankind towards liberation is said to possess the Dharma eye and such a person is called Bodhisattva. Finally, where there is no more duality or when there is no difference between person or Universe, subject or object, then he is said to have become a Buddha. Now there is no relativity. There is no difference between Buddha eye (which is the fifth and final eye) or Buddha.
Finally you may ask, “Why should I know all this and make an attempt to realize it through meditation and other practices which are seemingly difficult and consume a lot of time?” Another important question could be, "It appears that everyone will ultimately get liberated. I will also get liberated when time comes. Let me enjoy my life. Why worry now?” There could be similar such questions arising in your mind. There is a definite and serious reason. It is mentioned in Basic Theosophy that the average number of lives a human being takes before liberation is about 700 years. Literature from Buddhism states that Buddha recounted all his 550 human lives after his enlightenment. The average number of lives being 700, you can reduce it to 550 by serious practice towards liberation. Or you may even take 850 or more lives, by living normally and continuing to make many mistakes. The difference between 850 and 550 is about 300 lives. This clearly means that you can reduce the possible number of births by few hundreds, by being, serious towards liberation. This is too huge a gain for you to ignore meditation and other practices.
Secondly, almost everyone believes that life exists in higher forms. Different religions give different names to these higher forms. The various names could be Holy Angels, Spiritual Guides, Siddhas, Devas, Brahma Devas, etc. That means there could be various levels in the higher forms of life. In certain literature it has been revealed that there are six Deva lokas in material form with different levels of fineness, one Brahma loka is a fine material form and one Brahma loka in non-material form. Life in all these lokas remains for predominantly very long periods of time. Everything here appears to be permanent. There is hardly any un-satisfactoriness (or Dhukha), however, “I” consciousness still continues. Therefore, you cannot easily realize the Truth in these higher forms. It is only in our life, in this physical world, in the form of human beings that impermanence, un-satisfactoriness (Dhukha) and "I"-lessness can be very easily realized (by Nirvana or becoming the Holy Master or Asekha). Hence, this life is meant for total liberation.
If one does good deeds and casual meditation and does not overcome all hindrances fully, he may land up in one of the higher lokas for a long time. Therefore, you must aim to realize the truth with utmost sincerity in meditation and other suggested practices, here in this life to get total liberation! In the process you may get natural powers or siddhis. One must utilize them for the benefit of others or mankind, but not get attached there. That is not the destination. One must continue on the path by being aware and equanimous with everything that happens. That is the only sure way to final liberation.
Few Important Points:
1. There is a definite purpose of Incarnation. The Soul grows. As you grow, you must help others grow. As you climb up, give help and take help as needed. You do not have to wait till going to the top to start helping.
2. Law of Karma or Law of Cause and Effect or Law of Entitlement is the Divine Law. This law is exact and it operates in the worlds of Incarnation. It is the instrument of evolution and not fatalistic. As you sow, you reap is based on Law of Karma. Forgiveness, service, tithing, sharing and all acts of mercy have positive karmic consequences. In every situation there is something to learn and forgive. Consequently, the Soul grows. If you want to know your past, see the present condition. If you want to know the future, see your present actions. Future is dynamic.
Thinking and feeling generate karma apart from speaking and acting. Sadness generates negative karma. You are ultimately responsible for your difficult condition. Apart from you, many are responsible for your good condition. Therefore, we must live with an attitude of gratitude. Count on the blessings and have good self-esteem.
3. Human birth is a rare opportunity. You have a great responsibility to maintain physical health, emotional balance and mental clarity to utilize the opportunity optimally. Yoga Prana Vidya is therefore very important.
4. Identifying and aligning with a right group is very important for safe and substantial growth of the Soul. Sangham Sharanam Gachami!
5. We are all part of our Divine Sparks or Paramatmas and therefore connected to God. God loves all without exception. The Higher Soul is pure but evolving. We all make mistakes in the process of evolution. Therefore, we must learn to forgive, ask for forgiveness and forgive ourselves.
Everyone’s need is Peace. In spite of having everything, if you waste time, opportunity or do not use your capabilities, inner Peace is not sustainable.
You may try our YPV Sadhana app which has guided practices for exercises, breathing exercises, forgiveness sadhana in order to purify yourself at physical, emotional and mental levels as a preparation for meditation. There is a guided Planetary Peace Meditation which can help you experience oneness with your higher self. These techniques also improve and strengthen your immune system.
These techniques are also being practiced in our live sessions on Facebook, thrice daily. These live sessions are extended up to 30th September 2020 @ www.facebook.com/ShriNJReddy. Timings: Morning 7.15 AM, Afternoon 1.00 PM, Evening 6.30 PM.