offerings अर्पणम्

September 12, 2012


Filed under: VEDANTA — Tags: — arpanam @ 10:10 pm


We discussed something which I noted as “relying on the Ground (Brahman, Ishwara)”
I can somehow sense the meaning of it but I find it very difficult to put it into words that would make sense?

The aspect I would be most interested in is “aligning our actions with the underlying incomprehensible laws of Ishwara“, action been understood in a very broad sense, including thoughts and subtle intentions. However, due to my own conditioning, I find the concept of Absolute as being an entity or “person” very difficult to relate to. I can be wrong, but this seems to be implied in your article. For example, a result of a certain action can be unpredictable, not because the cause/effect are a very complex stuff, but because it’s decided by Ishwara.
That’s why I prefer to call it a “ground” or “sacred”, since it allows to avoid any connotations of god-father in charge of everything.


To answer your question on reliance on Ishwara I have spent some time in explaining these terms and having right perspective about them in keeping with Vedanta teachings. Thereafter I have taken the aspect of reliance on Ishwara for a spiritual seeker.

Culmination of human endeavour is to recognise his/her true nature which is un-negatable, self evident, pure existence. That existence is non-dual; that is there is nothing apart from it and therefore there is no real creation. This is the Vedic vision. However if someone is  unable to see this with clarity, Vedic philosophy, takes into account his/her present orientation and keeping that into perspective, it presents its body of thought, in such a way that one can apperceive one’s aforementioned nature. As a result of this recognition one is free from all sorts of affliction like conflicts, sorrow, insecurity etc. Therefore it stands to reason to purse this path.

Our present orientation is that creation is real and I am someone separate from it. I am constantly engaged and related with the creation and this relationship gives me a status e.g. doer, enjoyer, thinker etc. In nutshell the creation is important in my perspective.  Therefore creation is discussed at length not to validate creation but to negate it. Creation as word implies and as we understand and believe must have been created or evolved in time. Any form of creation involves essentially two factors, viz. ‘material’ and the ‘efficient’ causes (upadaan and nimita karan, respectively). Classical analogy provided to illustrate these terms is in making of gold ornaments. Gold is the ‘material’ cause and gold smith is the ‘efficient’ cause. Rather the form, shape and size etc, keeping with utility and aesthetics etc, in goldsmith’s mind, is the efficient cause that got evident in the lump of gold. Ornaments are essentially gold and any alteration in the structure of the ornament does not alter the gold. Therefore gold is the reality of the ornaments. Ornaments are just names and forms superimposed on the gold, the actual substance.  In creation, however, we are unable to perceive its material cause which is Brahman, referred by some, as the ground (adhisthan).  And creation is just a superimposition (adhyasa) on It in keeping with plan of efficient cause.  To bring our attention to the material cause is the sole intention of Vedanta and to do so the ‘efficient cause’ is taken into account, as this would facilitate the process. Unlike the example, in creation, the efficient cause is not separate from the material cause; rather nothing is separate from it. Because ornaments not real therefore the efficient cause, too, is not real. However any talk of ornaments would necessitate inclusion of efficient cause in the analysis.

Efficient cause in creation is basis of its laws. The relationship between various objects, in entire creation, is based on laws. These laws have a basis which is ascribed to an Intelligent Principle. The Principle, however, is un-conceivable by our mind and un-perceivable to our senses. Therefore it is difficult to relate with the Principle, as such. We thus superimpose this Intelligent Principle on an entity, christen it with a name, the creator or Ishwara, we may even give it form, thus we can relate with the Principle, as this relationship is necessary to make meaningful headway in spiritual path.


The spiritual path is a part of this creation and therefore within the ambit of the laws of This Principle, integral part of His grand plan. Unlike worldly pursuits where the end can be conceived by our faculties of senses and mind, the Spiritual end, does not lend itself to be a subject of these faculties. Also, the relationship between the means and the end is relatively straight forward, in worldly pursuits, but this relationship in Spiritual pursuit is much more complex. Nevertheless there is a relationship. Therefore, if Spiritual pursuit is divorced from these laws would be like moving in dark room to find an un-illumined object. Thus one may find oneself groping in the dark and get exhausted in the process.

Thus if one needs to make any meaningful headway in spiritual path one needs acknowledge the existence of the Principle and have understanding of the laws. Thereafter lead a life based on these laws, as these laws are just, they will bring about order in his life and more importantly in his thinking processes. This order is quintessential for recognition of his true nature.

One appreciates those who have been able discover the essence of life, the venerable liberated souls, their discovery was not a matter of chance , as lucky few, but in keeping with endeavours undertaken, by them, in the past. They in their utter humility ascribe this discovery to be grace/benediction/blessing etc, from the Principle, but in actuality it is fruition of their endeavours and attitudes, in keeping with the laws. In words of Vedanta saint we “gracefully call it grace”.

As the Principle cannot be perceived by the senses and the laws, in its entirety, cannot be conceived by the intellect, one is left with a doubt in about, both, the very existence of the Principle and His laws. This scepticism is more is in those who have unreasonable reliance on their intellect and are obstinate about accepting anything that is not perceived by the senses. They want evidence and there is none. Their egos are stubborn and somehow feel by accepting the principle they would be either irrational or servile. They want things to move in what they call as rational but the Laws of Nature don’t fall in their paradigm of rationality. They reject the Principle as being figments of imagination of some mislead believers. They are unable to trust and reject any help that comes their way. Paradoxically, there scepticism is further aggravated by observing the absurdities in life of those who fall within the other end of the spectrum. These are the group that have blind belief with exaggerated emotions on the Principle and have rejected their rationality in the process of pursuing their belief.

So developing a right attitude towards the Principle is of paramount importance. The attitude is based on appreciating the role of the Principle as the basis of laws and the laws are just. The attitude is of reverence and not sentimentality. This attitude would bring down the misplaced confidence we have on our will, intellect and knowledge, and thereby mitigate our inflated ego. We think we are arbiter of our course of life. We realise the folly of this thinking and acknowledge that events in our life are governed by more factors that we unaware of. But these factors are not in any unfair way influencing and governing my life. These factors are my own making but we cannot recall that cause now. It brings acceptance of unfavourable events in our life. The disposition to accept the vicissitude of life with pleasant mind and know the inherent limitation (not rejection) of our knowledge, intellect and will is essential quality of spiritual seeker.

Thus seeker now relies on the Intelligent Principle, the efficient cause, to facilitate him/her to discover the material cause for in that discovery his true wellbeing lies. He has implicit faith in that Principle as a beacon of light to help me find the desirable end.  And has patience if despite his efforts this discovery does not come about. He knows it takes time for anything to ripen and that is in keeping with nature’s law. And in a ripe mind this discovery is as natural and effortless as blossoming of flowers during spring, inevitable and indeed, the most beautiful.


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