Saturday, November 17, 2012

There and Back Again

One of the principal refrains in the book The Lord of the Rings, which Baba had read to him twice, loved, and compared to the spiritual path, is the line "there and back again." It is actually the title of the book (a book within a book) by the character Bilbo of his adventures that start the story, which he in turn passes to Frodo to continue as The Lord of the Rings, and which Frodo in turn leaves with his companion Sam to complete its appendices. The line "I'm back" is also the final line of the whole book, and the last line in the movie as Sam returns to his family after Frodo parts across the Gray Havens.

Here I wish to describe a sense in which Baba's Divine Theme (outlined in his book God Speaks) is also the story of a journey 'there and back again,' albeit an inner journey taken by the soul.

The full title of Meher Baba’s main book is God Speaks, the Theme of Creation and its Purpose. In it Meher Baba explains in detail the stages of the journey that the soul takes through illusion, a subjective dreamt journey that is actually one taken by God Himself in the form of each individual soul.

The journey is one from God unconscious, through His dream of Creation, and back to Himself as God conscious. This is Baba's “Theme” of Creation. The “Purpose” in the title of his book refers to the underlying purpose of this dream in granting to God (via each individual soul’s journey through this dreamt Creation) His identity as God with full consciousness when that soul finally awakens to its being God.

Thus it is a “there and back again” kind of a journey, passing into an illusion, and then back through lesser and lesser degrees of illusion to experience his original State consciously.

The first stage of this journey is one of Evolution, in which the soul experiences itself as all the diverse increasingly more conscious species of evolution. By this avenue the soul gains full consciousness in the human form – which is thus the terminus of physical evolution. Each soul (though in fact being God) takes this evolutionary journey.

The irony is that while consciousness is incrementally gained by way of this evolutionary journey, this consciousness is gained for the soul at the cost of acquiring an increasing false ego-mind. So as human the soul is conscious, but falsely conscious – taking itself to be a limited man or woman, but not unlimited God which is what it truly is.

Thus man, while standing at the apex of evolution, ironically stands at the nadir of the journey as far as mind and ignorance are concerned. While God in the soul of a man is fully conscious and self-aware, he is aware of himself only as a man, and not as his true essence as God. Man takes himself to be finite, bound, and a part of the whole. While Baba says in reality the soul is infinite, unbounded, and indivisibly One with All Being.

So to precipitate the return of human consciousness from this nadir in the journey, back up to its real self, God, Baba says the soul must traverse an inner spiritual path, or “the inner planes of involution.”

Involution is a direct counterpart to evolution, returning in the opposite direction from which it has evolved, but in the mind itself. While evolution is a descent from unconscious God to ego-mind, on the path of involution the aspirant consciously as a man retraces the steps he took through evolution semi-consciously consciously. Importantly, Baba says that though this return path to the Self is internal, it is essential for the soul to have a physical human body to traverse it. Thus the individual goes on experiencing further incarnations as a human being even after embarking on the inner path as he retraces internally the stages he made from Himself in the dream in the course of Evolution.

Thus Baba has seven steps of descent the soul makes while gaining full consciousness.

1. Stone and Metal
2. Vegetable
3. Worm
4. Fish
5. Bird
6. Animal
7. Man

And the return by a human being traversing the inner journey of the path of involution also has seven stages which he calls the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and finally 7th plane of consciousness — 7th being God fully conscious.

Here then we see this journey at a glance.

Chart from Beams of the Panorama, by Meher Baba, p. 81
(journey to be viewed from bottom to top)

If one were to cut out and role this chart cylindrically so that the top touched the bottom, and placed the center of the chart at the bottom, one would hold in their hands a model of Baba’s Theme of Creation. A journey from God Unconscious to God Conscious, 'There and Back Again.' 

Maulana Shabistari, in Gulshan-e-Raz,says: 
Gar andar amad avval ham bidar shud 
Agar cih dar ma’ad az dar bidar shud. 
“He returns to the door from which he first came out, 
although in his journey he went from door to door.” (God Speaks, p. 160)

Now let us return to The Lord of the Rings. We will see this very concept objectified in poetry and image.

When Frodo enters into Mount Doom where he must destroy the ring in the fires from which it is made, he enters the very door where Sauron exited when he forged the ring at the beginning of time. In God Speaks in Lord of the Rings I describe what I see as the full inner meaning of this entering into a door from which Spirit exited, and what I see as the symbolism of the ring's creation as well as its destruction.

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