Thursday, October 11, 2012

2B or not 2B (Part II)

I want to continue with the discussion I began in the previous post on the subject of the state Meher Baba said the Avatar enters when he “drops his body.” Why do I harp so much on this subject? Because it has important spiritual implications.

To understand this state properly and how it fits into the scheme of things as Baba describes them, we need to review how Baba explains his theme of ten states of God.

Ten States of God Chart, designed by Meher Baba,
God Speaks, online and current in print  edition,
facing p. 158. (Click to enlarge)

Meher Baba teaches a thousand year old advaitic (nondualistic) concept that every soul really is the one Supreme Soul, Paramatma, or "the Over-soul” as Ralph Waldo Emerson named it, meaning God. Some religions teach that soul and God are two things, that at best merge and become united. But here soul and God literally are one and the same from beginning to end. The sense of division between souls and from God is merely the result of Maya or ignorance. This goes for every soul in Creation, no matter how apparently high or low, whether that of a tree or of a human being or that of an advanced saint or the Avatar. The difference between souls is in their ability to consciously recognize that they are God. And what prevents souls from recognizing their true identity as God is the principle of ignorance known as Maya.

Maya acts as a veil between the false limited self (mind ensnared in illusions) and its real Self (God). Baba says that this veil can only be fully removed by a prolonged experience by the soul of itself advancing through the sequence of species of evolution, then as numerous experiments as different human beings in reincarnation, and then yet more human lives experiencing the inner path of involution, whereby God-realization finally occurs. When the veil of Maya is finally peeled away, the soul at last sees the true state of affairs – that it was all along God Himself making this journey. In other words, after numerous species of plant and animal forms, followed by innumerable human lifetimes, the soul eventually succeeds at overcoming the veil of Maya and sees what it always was – none other than God Himself.

Thus God is really the only player in the Divine Theme of life, playing all the roles in Creation.

How can God, who is One and indivisible, play all these roles? Baba explains this by dividing God into ten states (not parts). The souls that experience these states are all God, but they are God experiencing himself in a sequence of inner states to arrive at his ultimate state of Self-knowledge. What stretches out these states in succession across an apparently immense expanse of time is itself a trick of Maya (ignorance). God never really goes anywhere or crosses any span of time when he makes the journey across these ten states. He simply embarks upon an imagined journey within himself, known as Creation, through which he eventually comes to discover his true identity. Baba likens this coming to knowledge through an illusory journey to a person who wakes from a deep sleep by first passing through a dream. In this case the dream actually teaches the man something significant and important, and upon waking he retains this great realization he has attained by way of what was otherwise just a dream. He is now fully awake and retaining the realization he gained by way of his dream. Note that the dream, being nothing but a dream, never really happened. It was all in the man’s mind. Similarly Baba explains that, while this world is also nothing but a vacant dream with no substance of its own, it is a significant dream for it is by way of this dream that God’s realization of his true nature as the only Reality occurs. Thus Baba dedicates his principal book God Speaks,
To the Universe — the illusion that sustains Reality.
Though much of what Baba teaches is from ancient traditions, some of it is utterly new to our modern world. And if we are to believe him, many of the things he says hold vast implications for how we conceive of life, how we look upon others and all the creatures and objects around us, and our place in the greater scheme of life. If it is true, it gives a coherent answer to the ancient question of what life is, out of what it was made, from what impulse it has sprung, and to what end it is going — questions most of us fail to even ask ourselves let alone can easily answer. These are the ancient questions of humanity.

Baba’s elucidations not only potentially give clarity to our modern life however, but also shed light upon ancient teachings that have been poorly understood. Take for example the Christian belief that if we hold to our faith in Christ, when we die we go to a place called heaven where we are at last united with God and see God. Baba discards this view of heaven or hell as the conclusion of our journey, giving these experiences a very minor role as temporary states between births, and not the ultimate aim of life. But he does hold that the latter part of the Christian equation is true – for union with God is the goal, but a union of a deeper nature and only after a much longer and more complex journey. Baba applies the notion of life’s quest for union with God beyond a simple human life to the full lifespan of the soul through its dreamt journey over many lives toward that goal. For the goal is, according to Baba, just as it is in Christianity, to unite with God. The Sufi word for this union is wasl. All traditions acknowledge this union. Baba would further say that while we at one stage “see” God, this seeing is shortly followed by the full experience of “Becoming,” when we experience God-realization, i.e. realization of ourselves as God when the veil of Maya is finally removed at the end of our long journey.

Arthur and his knights at the
round table
To further demonstrate the connections between Baba's states and past traditions, let us turn to another Christian symbolism and see how parallel it is to what Baba says. In one of the earliest Perceval legends, the mythical King Arthur gathers his knights at the round table for a conference. Once seated, before them he has brought out the Holy Grail, but it is covered by a veil. After they see this veiled spiritual relic it is taken from the room. King Arthur then challenges his knights to each on his own embark upon a quest to find and behold the Grail unveiled. So begins the quest for the Holy Grail. The Grail can be seen as Truth or Reality. The veil can be seen as a Christian counterpart to the veil of Maya (the principle of ignorance). "For now we see through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12). The overcoming of Maya means the removal of the veil of ignorance, at which time the soul sees his true Self in Christ-consciousness.

Now let us return to Baba’s teaching about the states that God sequentially imagines himself to pass through on his quest toward Self-realization. Baba says that every soul in Creation is in one of these ten states, passing slowly from one to the next as in a journey, but that all the while each soul is none other than God Himself, and thus that it is really God in each of these ten states. It is God that plays the roles of the individuals in each state in his journey to himself through the dream of Creation.

Ten States of God

To read the full account of these, download God Speaks Part II from the Avatar Meher Baba Trust Online Library. It is the first chapter in that PDF.

1. State I:  God’s original state. This state is entirely beyond any human conception. In this original state of God, even the prospect of consciousness is inconceivable.
2. State II:  God where consciousness is conceivable. There are three sub-states of this State II that will be discussed further on.
3. State III:  God as Emanator, Sustainer and Destroyer.
4. State IV:  God experiencing Itself as semi-gaseous, not quite physical, forms.
5. State V:  God experiencing Itself in Evolution, from stone up to monkey, whereby God as soul acquires consciousness by way of this long process.
6. State VI:  God experiencing Itself as a human being in reincarnation, fully conscious but not yet on the spiritual path – trapped entirely in Maya with entirely material interests.
7. State VII:  God experiencing Itself as a human being on the spiritual path, still with a physical body, but with exotic internal experiences beyond ordinary gross experience. Less Maya, but still Maya.
8. State VIII:  Majzoob. In this state only God (or Self) is experienced, and not the Illusion. Maya is wiped out.
9. State VI:  A person experiencing a state between Majzoob and Salik.
10. State X:  The state of consciousness of the Avatar or a Perfect Master. This is the fully enlightened human master, still in his body, experiences both God and the Illusion (Universe) at the same time, in order to lift up other souls still trapped in Maya.

Now Baba says that when the Avatar or a Perfect Master drops his outer form (which we experience as his dying) he experiences State VIII. This is the state called Majzoob. In this State God continually enjoys his Divine attributes of Power, Knowledge, and Bliss, but does not experience the Illusion (the phenomenal world with its comings and goings that are only a dream and thus no longer exist to Him). In this state God is not dreaming, nor does God directly take part in the dream for the emancipation of others still caught in it as He does in State X (as the embodied Avatar or Perfect Master on Earth). The reason for this is that He takes no experience of the physical, subtle, or mental spheres that human beings do. He does not experience the Universe and thus does not intervene in the affairs of the Universe. Only the embodied living Perfect Masters or Avatar (in State X) help humanity directly. However, Baba says that worship of the Avatar or the Perfect Master after he has passed away continues to accrue for the aspirant great spiritual benefit and can lead to the aspirant's emancipation from Illusion. Such worship is called Bhakti Yoga. When the Avatar or Perfect Master is in a gross human form, the help they give to humanity is direct. When not in form (in State VIII) the help given is indirect, and in proportion to the intensity and sincerity of the aspirant's love for the Master.

So when the Avatar or a Perfect Master leaves State X (leaves his body) he then experiences State VIII. This is also called Vidnyan, or the resting place of the masters. The Tibetan Buddhists call this state Shambhala. There (in that state) they perform no function in the affairs of the world, and do not even take experience of the world because from this fully awakened perspective there is no world, since it was nothing but a vacant dream that serves no further purpose.

The Christ coming again,
descending through clouds
Baba says that only the Avatar (the Christ, Messiah, Rasool) takes births again after this ascent to God Beyond (State VIII). This taking birth periodically or re-descent from a higher state is anticipated in many traditions as the return of the Avatar, the Saheb-e-Zaman, etc. Based on certain words by Jesus the Christians await the Christ's descent through clouds. Meher Baba explains the meaning behind this.
All the great mystics have understood the word 'clouds' as a symbolic expression for states of consciousness or spiritual planes. When the Christ descends from the infinite, the seventh plane, he brings with him to earth the infinite goodness, wisdom, power and love, and also the powers, signs and experiences of the six lower planes . . . (QA p10-11, Life Eternal)
Other Perfect Masters do not return after they depart, but retire permanently when their journey and final work of helping to emancipate others ends. Both the Avatar and the Perfect Masters are in the same State VIII when they die, but only the Avatar takes a future birth and comes again and again – according to Meher Baba.

Now one thing should be made clear. All souls when they are God-realized and lose consciousness of the Illusion enter into this identical State VIII that the Perfect Masters permanently enjoy. Thus it should be noted that every soul will one day become United with the Over-soul in this state.

Let us then turn back to Christianity. The goal is to become United with God, to see God. This is the same concept as State VIII. The one difference from Baba’s perspective is that this full uniting with God does not occur after a single human life culminating in heaven or hell, but after countless lives, first as various diverse increasingly conscious species of Evolution (state V), then through additional lives as a human being in the course of Reincarnation (State VI), and then through a few more lives as a spiritually advanced human being (State VII). Baba says that heaven and hell are merely the mental experiences of the mind between human lives that help the individual process the events of its previous life before taking a new birth to continue its journey.

Baba’s view thus encompasses as part of this journey not just a single human life but the whole of Creation, including all species, both animate and inanimat. It is a far vaster scope of vision, and a reorientation of our view of the spiritual. In other words, all is spiritual, all has spiritual purpose, and all are eventually destined for the Bliss of Self-realization, both sinners and saints alike, though over a longer span of diverse experience – a very long climb that includes everything in the Universe.

Regarding the Christian belief that the ultimate goal is to see God, and to be united with God, realize that Baba’s view is the same – only the scope of this process is broadened to include more and extended over more time and thus it is more universally encompassing – making all life spiritual, rather than most of life being a mere backdrop for a few.

Where is Baba Now?

Now we return to the original question I raised in May. Where is Baba now? He is in State VIII, as is clearly stated in his own words both in God Speaks (online version, p. 226) and Listen Humanity (online version, p. 114). What are the implications of this for Baba's lovers – those who follow him and seek to unite with him one day? It is that one day they will not just be near him, but will actually experience his very state and be merged in him. For there never really was any separation except in appearance, as the result of Maya. And union with Christ is the same for those who love Christ, when one day they achieve Christ-consciousness, and for the Sufi who loves the Prophet union with Allah in wasl (union), and for the Hindu union with Krishna in moksha (liberation), with Buddha in Nirvana (enlightenment), etc. etc. it is all the same.

This is why Baba says, “You and I are not We but One” and "I am what you are" (Time Magazine, 1932).

Sub-states of State II

State II has three sub-states, all of which are really God in his "Beyond State" (meaning Beyond the Illusion). The first sub-state (State II A) is God as He is before the Creation, before the soul (which is God) begins its journey. In this first pristine state God is unconscious. The second sub-state (State II B) is the state I have been talking about that Baba said the Avatar and all God-realized souls pass away to when they die. The third sub-state (State II C) is the state experienced by the living embodied Perfect Master or the Avatar while on Earth, who takes experience of Reality and the Illusion at the same time in order to help emancipate souls still caught in the trance of Maya.

Baba further says that the entire journey of the soul can be summed up as the passing from State II A (God unconscious) to State II B (God conscious) which is where Baba is now.

2B or not 2B? Yes, definitely 2B. It is where Baba is (that state, not place) and where we are all destined to be – according to Meher Baba.

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