COMMANDMENT 2 - COMMENTARY BY DR. K C VARADACHARI
Begin your puja with a prayer for spiritual elevation with a heart full of love and devotion.
Thou art the Real Goal of human life.
We are yet but slaves of wishes
Putting bar to our advancement.
Thou art the only God and power
To bring us up to that stage."
The second commandment has reference to the prayer which we offer. The prayer has three parts. The first refers to our goal, which is the Highest or Ultimate Calmness beyond all our gross experiences. The second part has reference to the obstacles or impediments to the attainment of that Goal or God. Master is the Highest kind of existence and it is Him we have to reach. The wishes which are impediments to our return to or experience of God are those which are other than our legitimate duties. We have each of us our duties and these duties are cast on us by our very conditions of common life. In a sense they are our svadharma which should not be given up. As Sri Krishna has stated it is necessary to do one's own duty rather than not do it. It is necessary not to do other person's duties (paradharma) which alone cause fear to each one of us. If we know this then we will not venture to do other people's duties. This in a sense is a wish as distinguished from duty (dharma). These wishes may pertain to all that is not necessary for our attaining the Highest State. The third part of the prayer shows that God or Master alone can lead us to That State carrying us through all impediments and obstacles which we have created between the Highest State and ourselves, thanks to lifelong attachment to 'wishes', desires and other extraneous things.
Briefly the Master has sketched how we have descended by three steps. Firstly there was that Highest State of Calm (this, of course, is the true bliss-transcendent state). This is the Highest Reality and essence. The creation starts with essence descending and due to this descent we have the heat generated during this process. This gathers particles which have the essence, however, as the nucleus, but forming rings round it. Those drops or droplets gather together and form circles and circles, and forming into rivers finally become like an ocean of heat. The samsara sagara or the ocean of samsara thus forms with extreme heat outside, though the inward Calm Essence is present.
The outer rings with heat thus give us the experience of suffering and loss of calm. The search for calmness or peace of mind thus is set up. It is true that many persons think that this heat of the outer is the world of joys or ananda, but as we have said it is but the inversion of the Highest Bliss. It is necessary to reinvert the whole being. This is done by piercing through the outer shells or rings and arriving at the central nucleus of Calm Essence within. This is what the Master does when the prayer is offered. Thus almost immediately after the prayer we have the experience of the inward calm in this Marga because the Master without any ado removes the obstacles that are in the form of many activities around particles that form the rings. This is the first step of the initiation.
The Master says the prayer implies the relationship of Master and servant. The servant fully relies on the power of the Master who is established in the Highest State and is absorbed in It always. The servanthood (dasya) implies that he permits himself to be used as the Master likes, that is for the purpose of not getting service from him, but for the purpose of raising his person to the Highest condition. It has been said that once the individual surrenders himself to the Highest, the Highest then trains the servant for freedom and Divine work. At the beginning the individual is called a servant who is in training for his own good, to achieve the calm and the state of utter freedom in God. The yoga is the Master's. Indeed it is well-known that our Master always speaks of service to his abhyasis rather than of getting service from them.
Prayer is the most efficacious method, for it releases the conditions that bring about in the most simple way the realization. Some prefer a long prayer but whatever may be the prayer if it does not contain the essential conditions of fixing the goal of prayer, of oneself and of what one seeks, the means or selection of the means, and does not realize that one must be prepared to eschew the impediments which could be eschewed by one leaving the rest to be removed by the Master, it is not a complete prayer or a right one.
There is a reference to Puja or worship. The idea of worship is essential to all religions. The God to be worshipped, of course, should be the Highest. The Highest alone can grant us the peace that passeth understanding and which is the Original or Ultimate Source. God is omnipervasive or everywhere. Worship involves the realization that man is in need of worshipping adoring some one; we all seek in worship those who are better than ourselves. Hero-worship owes its strength to this need for an object of worship. This instinctive need which everyone feels shows that man is not all but needs the Highest. What we seek is the Master or leader and ourselves are but his followers or servants. Sectarian names are not very important provided we are able to grant to those names the meaning of Omnipervasiveness. Since our worship is at the heart and concentration is at the heart it follows that the Omnipervasiveness of God includes His being within the heart. That is why the centre of the Calm is to be visualized or imagined at the heart. In a sense Omnipervasiveness will preclude the fixing of form of God in any manner except as the Transcendent Calm Central Principle at the heart which begins to break through or unwind the knots or circles that have made for the separation and distance between the individual and the Divine.
Though one may start with the traditional worship that each one has inherited, yet once this abhyasa is taken up one gets to the subtler worship of the Divine and surely attains the Highest State in the shortest possible time.
Prayer finally is the expression of one's utter willingness and acceptance of the life of surrender to the Ultimate as the goal and means of attainment.
The prayer is an oral and mental act of self-offering to the Highest Being. Its purpose must be defined. That purpose must state the object of the prayer which is an instrument so to speak seeking the fulfilment of that aim. Men have all kinds of goals. Our ancients usually said that man has four aims: Artha (wealth and power), Kama (pleasures and enjoyments), Dharma (life of law and justice) and Moksha (liberation from all kinds of bondage and attainment of release from birth and death). President Eisenhower seems to be right in calling these food, family, friendship and freedom. All beings have needs of these four kinds. Most men are seekers of wealth and pleasure which is of course legitimate when such wealth and pleasure are for the support of one's life in simplicity and truthfulness. Thus necessary needs of the body and its comfort are legitimate and they are to be conditioned by the principle of respect for other people's similar needs which is law. However, these are but means to the primary necessity of freedom from the bondage that develops in the use and pursuit of these ends. They tend to become ends in themselves rather than means to the highest end of man - his freedom from death and birth or rather freedom from birth after death. Both have been sought. There have been men who have again and again sought physical immortality or freedom from death. They have sought it through alchemy (rasa), through mercurial and other preparations. They have sought it through hathayoga and lately through the help of the vijnana (supermind). But the real goal is not these but God Himself, not merely His Experience, but Himself. The upanishad calls Him the Immortal Person (Purana Purusa, Amrtam). Therefore the Master is the ultimate godhead, who in this samstha is called the Guru. All our masters are Himself since it is through Him and by Him is all these transmission done. It is His Power that is working out the subtle changes in us, transforming us so as to enable our knowing Him, seeing Him and then entering into Him with our Real Being. Jnatum, Drastrum Ca Tattvena pravestum Ca as the Gita Acharya said.
God thus is our goal (upeya). The Paramapurusartha or supreme goal greater than even freedom from birth-death cycle. Shri Ram Chandraji has thus laid great stress on this most important goal of life. In this he has followed the Vedic seer who affirmed that God is greatest wealth (rayi) a wealth which is undiminishing and infinite Achyuta, Ananta and Amrta. Thus Sri Ramanuja also affirmed that the Brahma or God is the goal of human life and in fact all life.
The means or Upaya is also He. This is what is expressed in the last part of the prayer, for He alone has the power to lead us. Indeed God is God because he is the Power and the only Power which could take us to that state of his Paramapada, Supreme Abode (dhama) from which there is no return, even as the Gita-acharya says. Other powers can lead us to their abodes but the Supreme Being alone can lead us to His abode. This is very important to remember for the Supreme Being is one only and all other powers are subordinate to Him unless He Himself wills it or commands it. Therefore God who is the Ultimate alone is the Power that can take us to that state of His. All teachers are commanded to take one to that state by Him. But if the teachers are not competent or have not the Adesa then it cannot be done by them. In our samstha we find, the transmitted force by the Master is the Highest Consciousness of God Himself that is capable of leading one through all the images of the created private world of ours. Thus superconsciousness is higher than the vijnana or supermind, even as it is above everything such as mind and the senses. The yogas which use the human mind fail, and surely those which use the prana and others also fail. It is not quite clear whether the supermind will succeed, as it is but a penultimate mind and not the Supreme Being Himself. Indeed the intermediating of the mind of any kind is ruled out, for these are but formations of that Power in Its Ksobha or creative manifestations.
The Supreme Being or God and Master alone can lead us to that Goal. In the ancient Veda it is said that Agni who is the divine will alone leads us to that Highest State, because he knows the devious ways and can surmount the crooked way of descent of man (jatavedas) and turn us to the true path (supatha) that is subtle and direct, to the Centre. Our Master who is one with God is verily the Knower of the paths of descent and ascent and, therefore, can individually lead every individual to that Highest State whatever may be the crookednesses that have developed in him. He is the God of the entire Universes (visvani deva). All this is significantly brought out by the simple and direct prayer. Thou art the only God and Power that brings us to that state (of Thine).
The second part of the prayer states that we (I) are (am) yet but slaves of our (my) wishes putting bar to our (my) advancement. The prayer could be made in the singular or plural nominative as when one prays alone or in Satsang or congregation. This is very important since it assumes that man has desires and precisely those that offer obstacles to one's attainment of the Highest State or God. These are Pratibandhakas or obstacles which are very difficult to remove or abolish. We know that our desires of wealth and pleasure are varied, some of them are legitimate but when in excess they turn out to be illegitimate and even misery - producing not only to others but to oneself ultimately. The search for wealth and pleasure has been condemned and renunciation had also been such as to lead to excess of renunciation, that is even of the legitimate. The result has been two fold obstacles due to excess of seeking and excess of renouncing. The middle path, however, cannot be arrived at by our mentality that is incapable of Samatva (equableness). Secondly, desires are of two kinds those that lead towards the goal and desires that are turned away from the goal. If the goal is constantly before one's vision, then those desires that lead upto it are integrated with it. These desires cease to be our desires but are Divine Desires (satsamkalpa of God or satyasamkalpa). The desires that have become our peculiar difficulties on the path are desires which are personal or private and seeking to satisfy our human and animal nature. These belong to the private universe which unfortunately has been for all practical purposes cut off from the Divine Universe. When we turn to God these private desires act as brakes to our turning and moving into God and check our progress. This is due to our habits of society and community no less than to our own individual cravings for satisfaction. Indeed the ego itself acts as a brake as it is feeding on these desires and manifests itself through them. We have our plant-ego, animal-ego and even when we develop a supermental-ego it will proceed to develop systems of autonomous functioning of spheres of desires. This we have if we observe ourselves, plant desires (torpor and stability call tamas), animal desires (as activity and movement and perpetuation of desires called rajas) and mental desires (of having and possessing and growing consciously). Consciousness itself becomes a kind of desire-result. But since this consciousness that we have is but consciousness of limitation and consciousness of need for a fuller experience, the Ultimate is something very different from this type of consciousness. This obviously cannot be the nature of the Ultimate Being which is infinite and omnipervasive and indivisible and Ultimate depending on no other status or state beyond it. Our desires have also been habituated in the sense that we have all been brought up to cultivate desires. Thus very innocuous mottoes such as 'Aim High' and so on, leave the definition of 'high' out and thus men are pursuing the worldly height which brings out the results of such ambition, sorrow, defeat and collapse of ideals of the outer region. It has been clearly shown through history that ideals of infinite extension of power and rule over Nature and Man has met with defeat invariably. Outer power has a tendency to inflict self defeat and dissolution, for it is not the intrinsic goal of man. True religious and spiritual life seeks inward discovery of God rather than objectification of the personality of God or of oneself. Desires are thus the central problem for man.
Ignorance of one's true nature may be said to be the cause of wrong desire. Ignorance of one's present condition also is the second cause of wrong desire. Men do not know which is right desire and which is wrong desire. We are in a world in which perhaps the wrong desire appears to be right desire and right desires are said to be wrong. Surely the 'right' of Buddha had the inward-turn whereas the same 'right' of modern man is outward-turn and the tables of interpretation have been clearly turned. It seems to be a capital truth that there is a peculiar process of Vivarta or inversing or upturning in the human mind itself which periodically makes the right appear as wrong and wrong appears as right. The meaning however, in this inversion does not remain the same as in formal logic. It is precisely the business or task of the Supreme Consciousness to reverse or inverse this inversion and lead to the proper spiritual perception of the reality. It is a task which the Divine Consciousness alone can perform since it alone will modify the workings of the ego which is the maintainer of the system of inversions through habits ingrained by desires of particular outward going type. Thus the obstacles for ascent of the individual to the awareness and experience of reality are capable of being overcome or crossed over by the Divine Consciousness working through man's heart and carrying him to the higher centres or spheres of reality experience.
All men are aware more and more in a world that is expanding and becoming one in saying that the 'old' man is no longer enough and that the 'old' mentality is a bar to higher and larger work of God. Both in the material and in the spiritual sense man is inadequate and confused. Expansion of his desires only develops ambitions which cause more and more estrangements and conflicts. The upward radical transformation. The fixed ego of ours has to become a plastic and spiritual vehicle of the Divine Nature.
Desires centre round the ego and reinforce it and, therefore, they have to be seen as obstacles to ultimate realization of God who is the Ultimate. God indeed is transcendent to all our conceptions of Him.
Therefore, the Prayer starts with the statement of our Goal (upaya-purushartha); the impediments to that goal are stated next so as to seek God as the helper and power to reach Him. Lastly, He is sought as the means (upaya). Vedanta indeed stated that God is both the means and Goal of man.
In this connection ancient seers of the South have found that the great system founded by Sri Narayana and sponsored by Sri Krishna called the Pancharatra stated that true prayer has to contain the essential ingredient of integral surrender. This self-surrender to God should contain the basic limbs of (i) Anukulasamkalpa (willing the helpful), (ii) Pratikulavarjana (renunciation or abandoning of that which impedes or obstructs of realization); (iii) Goptrtvavaranam the choice or choosing of the goal proper to our endeavour); (iv) Mahavisvasa (faith supreme in the Guru or Master or God that He is competent to save); (v) Atmanikshepa (offering of the soul itself or placing it at His disposal); and lastly (vi) Karpanya (utter dependence on God for everything). Sri Ramanuja and Venkatanatha called this nyasavidya. In the Prayer given by Sri Ram Chandraji we have in fact, the stating of the third limb Goptrtvavaranam, first then the Pratikulavarjanam, and thirdly the utter dependence on God and placing of oneself under the Master for the change and growth and development and attainment (Atmanikshepa).
It is thus seen to be the simplest prayer which has a direct appeal to God for a direct approach.