Now today I am going to go into the very fundamental guts of Hinduism. But what I want to do is to begin with certain documents that are known as the Upanishads, and these documents constitute what is called Vedanta. V-E-D-A-N-T-A. and that is compounded of two words, Veda, Anta. Anta means end or completion or summation. Veda, of course is related to the Latin video, to see. Veda is the fundamental revelation of the Hindu way of life, contained in its earliest scriptural documents, which are generally dated in the period between fifteen and twelve hundred B.C.. The Upanishads, as being the summation of the Veda, found from over a long period of time, beginning perhaps as early as eight hundred B.C. Some of the Upanishads are much much later than that.
The basic position of the Upanishads is that the Self is the one and only reality without a second, that all this universe is finally Brahman, and appears to be a multiplicity of different things and different events, only by reason of Maya, which is illusion. Magic. Art. Creative power. So then, it is basic to the Vedanta that Brahma, this intangible Nama objective ground of everything that exists, is identical with the ground of you. And this is put in the formula tat tvam asi,t-a-t, tat, same as our word that. Tvam, T-v-a-m. Same as the Latin tulips, thou. Asi, art. We should translate that into a modern American idiom as ‘You’re it’.
This of course is a doctrine which is very difficult for those brought up in the Judeo Christian traditions to accept, because it is fundamental to Christian and Jewish theology that whatever you are you are surely not the Lord God. And Christians feel about the Hindu doctrine that we are all fundamentally Masks of God, that it’s pantheism. And that’s a dirty word in Christian theological circles, because of the feeling that if everything is God, then all moral standards are blown to hell. Because it means everything is as good as everything else everything that happens is really God in this must include the good things and the bad things. And that seems to them a very dangerous idea. Actually all religious doctrines contain very very dangerous ideas.
However we won’t worry about that for the moment, because what the Hindu means by God when He says Brahman is not at all the same thing as a Jew means by The Lord Adonai. Because of the Jew and the Christian means the boss. To whom divine honors a view as above all others. The Hindu, on the other hand,does not mean the boss. He doesn’t mean, the king, the lord, the political ruler of the universe. He means the inmost energy, which as it were, dances it’s the whole universe. Without as it were the idea of author of governing some intractable element that resists his or its power.
So, if a Christian or a person in a Christian culture announces that he has discovered that he is God, we put him in the loony bin. Because it’s unfashionable to burn people for heresy anymore. But in India if you announce that you’re the Lord God, they say ‘Well of course. How nice that you found out.’ Because everybody it. So then, why the great problem arises does it appear that we’re not? Why do we think why do we have the sensory impression that this whole universe consists of a vast multiplicity of different things, and we don’t see it all as one. Well, what would you think it would be like to see it all as one. I know a lot of people who study oriental philosophy hear about attaining these great states of consciousness. Nirvana, Moksha which they can do is use liberation Satori, Zen Buddhist word for enlightenment or awakening I what would it be like to have that what how would you feel if you saw everything is really one basic reality.
Well, a lot of people think that it would be as if all the outlines and differentiations in the field of vision suddenly became vague, melted, and we saw only a kind of luminous sea of light. But rather advisedly, the Vedanta philosophy does not really seriously use the word one of the Supreme Self. Because the word and the idea one has an opposite many, on one side and another opposite none, on the other. And it is fundamental to Vedanta, that the Supremes Self is neither one nor many. But as they say non-dual, and they express that in this word. Advaita is a negative word, like non divine is from the same as the man. So Advaita is non-dual. And this a fast far western US is a difficult conception. Because you naturally as a Western magician would say the non dual is the opposite of the dual, therefore it has an opposite. True, but the Hindu is using this term in a special sense it’s like this. On a flat surface I have only two dimensions in which to operate so that everything drawn to the man. To the man. How therefore, on a two dimensional level can I draw anything but two dimensions how it logic in human rationality can I possibly think except in terms of opposites. All rational discourse is talk about classification. The classification of experiences of sensations, of notions. And the nature of a class is that it’s a box and if a box has an inside, it has to have an upside, is you is, or is you ain’t, is fundamental to all classification and we can’t get out of. It’s almost as if you see whatever we see to be different is an explicit difference on the surface. Covering an implicit unity.
Only, it’s very difficult to talk about what it is that unifies black and white. Of course in a way the eyes do. Sound and silence are unified by the ears. So you can see, can’t you, that, if you can’t have one without the other, it’s like the poles of a magnet, North Pole and South Pole. You can have a one-pole magnet. True, the poles are quite different ones north of the other south. But it’s all one magnet. And some such idea is that is what the Hindu is moving into when he’s speaking of the real basis or ground of the universe as be you will. Take it, the fundamental opposition that I suppose all of us feel, between self and other, thou and it. There is something that is me there’s an area of my experience that I call myself and there’s another area of my experience which I call not myself. But you will immediately see that neither one could be realized without the other. You wouldn’t know what you meant by self, unless you experience something other than Self. You wouldn’t know what you meant by other, unless you understood self they go together. They arise at the same time you don’t have first self and then other office other and then self. They come together. And that shows you see the sneaky conspiracy underneath the two, more or like the magnet between the two different poles.
And so more or less that, sort of what isn’t classifiable but which lives between all classes. The class of elephants, opposite the class of non elephants, has as it were, the walls of the box joining the two together, just as your skin is an asthmatic membrane that joins you to the external world by virtue of all the tubes in it and the nerve ends, and the way in which the external energies flow through your skin into your inside and vice versa. But, we do, don’t we see and feel and sense all we think we do. The world as divided into a great multiplicity a lot of people would. Think of the universe as a collection of different things a kind of cosmic flotsam and jetsam washed together in this particular area of space. And prefer to take a pluralistic attitude and don’t see anything underlying. In fact, in contemporary logical philosophy, the notion of any basic ground or continuum in which all events would be considered meaningless, for obvious reasons. If I say that everybody in this universe every star every planet is moving in a certain direction of a uniform speed, that will be saying nothing at all, unless I can point out some other object with respect to which they are so moving. But since I said the universe, that includes all objects whatsoever, therefore I cannot make a meaningful statement about the uniform behavior of everything that is going on. True. But on the other hand, every sound you hear on the radio, whether it be a honking horn, a Bach sonata, or a newscast, is the vibration of the diaphragm in a loud speaker. The radio doesn’t tell us this, the announcer doesn’t come on first thing in the morning and say, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, from now until closing time all the sounds you will hear will be vibrations of the diaphragm in the speaker.’ That is taken for granted and ignored.
So, in the same way your ear drum is basic to all that you hear. Your lens in your eye, the retina is basic to all that you see. What is the color of the lens of the eye? We say it is no color, it is transparent, in the same way as a mirror has no color of its own. But the mirror is very definitely there, colorless as it may be. The eardrum, unheard as it may be, is very definitely basic toward hearing. The are transparent as it maybe is very definitely basic to all seem so therefore if there were some continuum in which everything that is going on and everything that we experience occurs we would not notice it. We would not be able, really, to say very much about it, except perhaps that it was there. It wouldn’t make any difference to anything, except the one all important differences, that if it wasn’t there there wouldn’t be any differences. But you see philosophers nowadays don’t like to think about things like that. It stretches their heads and they would rather preoccupied themselves with more pedestrian matters.
But still you can’t help it if you are a human being, you wonder about things like that. What is it in which everything is happening? What is the ground? But you say, obviously it’s not a part because I think that is a part is a is a classifiable thing, and so very often the Hindu and the Buddhist will refer to the ultimate reality as no-thing. Not nothing but no special thing. Unclassifiable. Can’t put your finger on it, but it’s you, what you basically are, what everything basically is. Just as the sound of a automobile horn on. Radio is in one way an automobile horn but basically it is the vibration of the diaphragm. Okay, so you are all in the Hindu view vibrations of the entire cosmic diaphragm. Put it like that, that’s analogy, one using sudden a language or cataphatic language from the point of Christianity. The best language to say nothing! But to experience it. How can you experience it that’s the whole thing? As I pointed out, last time the nub of all these oriental philosophies is not an idea not a theory not even a way of behaving but it’s basically a way of experiencing a transformation of everyday consciousness so that it becomes quite apparent to us that that’s the way things are, but you, when you it when it happens to you it’s very difficult to explain it.
So in exactly the same way, when somebody has that sort of breakthrough which transforms consciousness and it happens all over the world it’s not just a Hindu phenomenon when somebody suddenly realizes it’s all one, or technically non-dual. And really, all this coming and going and all this frantic living and dying, grabbing, struggling, fighting, suffering all this is a fantastic phantasmagoria. He sees that, but when he trying to explain it he finds his mouth isn’t big enough. Because he can’t get the words out of their dualistic pattern, to explain something non-dualistic. But why is this so? Why are we under this great magnificent hallucination?
Well, the Hindus explain this in Saguna language as follows. Very nice explanation, a child can understand. The fact of the matter is that the world is a game of hide-and-seek. Peek-a-boo. Now you see it, it becomes very obvious. If you were the supreme self, what would you do? I mean, would you just sit there and be blissfully one, forever and ever and ever. Well, obviously not. You would play games. You would in other words for the very nature of the fact that I said no energy system is an energy system unless it lets go of itself, so you would let go of yourself. And you would get lost. You get involved in all sorts of adventures. And you forget who you were. Just as when you play a game, playing poker. And although you are only playing for dimes off the chips you get absorbed in the game. And you move, nothing really important to win nothing really important to lose and it becomes fantastically interesting, who wins and who loses. And so, in the same way it is said that the supreme Self gets absorbed, through ever so many different channels which we call the different beings, in the plot, just like an artist or a writer gets completely absorbed in the artistic creation of what he is doing or an actor gets absorbed in the part in the drama.
At first, we know it’s a drama we go to a play. And we say ‘It’s only a play.’ And the Proscenium Arch tells us that what happens behind that arch is not for real. Just a show. But the great actor is going to make you forget it’s just a show he’s going to have you sitting on the edge of your chair he’s going to be crying he’s going to be trembling because he almost persuades you that it’s real. And what would happen, if the very best actor, was confronted by the very best audience. Why, they’d be taken in completely, and the one would confirm the other. So, this is the idea of the universe as drama. That the fundamental Self the Sarguna Brahma, plays this game, gets involved in being all of us and does it so damn well, it’s so superbly acted that the thing appears to be real. And we’re not only sitting on the edge of our chair, but we start to get up and throw things. We join in the drama, and it all becomes whatever it is that’s going on here. Then of course, at the end of the drama, because all things have to have and end that have a beginning. The curtain goes down and the actors retire to the green room. And there the villain and the hero cease to be the villain and hero, they’re just that they actors. And then they come out in front of the curtain and they stand in a row and the audience applause of the villain along with the hero the villain for having been a good villain here over having been a great hero. The play is over, and everybody heaves a sigh of relief. Well that was a great show, wasn’t it.
So the same idea the green room is the Narguna Brahma. That behind the whole show, where there are no differentiations of I and thou, subject and object, good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. But within the sphere of the Sarguna Brahman, all these differentiations appear because that’s out in front that’s on the stage. And no good actor when on the stage performs his own personality. That’s what’s wrong with movie stars they try to cast a person to act a role which corresponds to his alleged personality. But in a great actor, can assume any kind of personality, male or female, can suddenly convert him self right from the audience into somebody who takes you in entirely. But in the green room, he’s as usual self. So Hinduism has the idea that it’s all the conventions of drama, go right along with it, that all this world is a big act. The play of the supreme Self. And it’s therefore compared to a dream, to a passing illusion. And, you should not therefore, take it seriously. You may take it sincerely perhaps, as an actor may be sincere in his acting but not serious, because that means it throws you for a loop. Although that of course is involved. We do take it seriously, but you see one of the great questions that you have to ask yourself, when you really get down to the nitty gritty about your own inmost core, is are you serious? Or do you know deep within you, that you’re put-on.