A Sahaj Marg book I finished a while ago, like many other of the Marg’s books, has me really pondering some things. I’ve been planning to write a post about the unity of Truth and how it is indivisible and had kept putting it off. Based on reading of late, I kinda feel like this might be that post but I’m still yet unsure.
Let’s see where this goes.
So, within the Sahaj Marg the focus is absolutely on spirituality and not religion. In fact, religion has been referred to as a form of kindergarten which is eventually (when the individual is ready) surpassed, transcended, and left behind. Naturally, abhyasis are encouraged to transcend that component of human existence as soon as he or she is able. It’s because of this that Sahaj Marg doesn’t endorse any particular form of God or murti or mantras, yantras or tantras, etc… Depending on who you speak to within the Sahaj Marg there is assigned more or less value on these things, but the Goal is understood to be far beyond and infinitely more subtle than any component of religion can actually offer.
I think one critique Chariji offers of the Hindu religion (which, btw, he is clear about thinking is the most sublime of humanity’s many paths.) is its depiction of Truth, or rather its multitudinous depictions. Our Vedas are clear in the popular mahavakyam, “Ekam sat – vipraha bahudha vadanti,” but I think in the hands of humans this often becomes a trap of sorts. Instead of focusing on the “Ekam” we focus on the “vipraha bahudha vadanti.” Yeah, sure – we use this to validate the assertion that all paths are valid and contain the same Truth. But even then, the emphasis placed on the One Truth is weak and we still find ourselves having to make a strong effort to see past external differences to find that One. The attention is always given to the “various ways” in which Truth is experienced and expressed. This can be understood to be the foundation of religion, and if not, then certainly the skin it develops.
Deepak Chopra has said that all religion really is, is the attempt at replicating one person’s experience of That. I experience Yoga, I tell you the path I took and possibly even recommend it, and then you attempt to recreate that experience yourself. Voila: The Religion (of Yoga).
Speaking of religion, Yoga was likely never intended to be a religion. Well, at least not a religion that belonged to more than the soul practicing it. Yoga was around long before religion was and that’s a very powerful and indicative piece of knowledge. Truth is one – yoga is one. And those who experience it, experience and name it variously. Ekam Sat, vipraha bahudha vadanti. No where in that mahavakyam do we read, “Truth is one and groups of people experience it collectively.” The minute you have groups experiencing collectively, or trying to, you have religion. You have separation.
If one group says, “We experience Truth like this” and another says, “We experience Truth like that” you can assume they’re speaking of the same Truth – after all if Truth is one, then those experiencing it must be experiencing the Same. But you can also know that something not quite true is being said. A more accurate thing for them to say would be, “We try to experience Truth together in this way.” But even then they’re missing the mark: They are seeking the same Truth, perhaps in the same way, but so long as the individuals within that group have unique karmas and samskaras, etc… you can be sure the experiences will be equally unique – not the same.
Just some food for thought on your Thursday. I’ll close with a quite from the well-known Dr. Vamadeva David Frawley, “The Hindu mind does not seek to impose itself upon people from the outside through force or persuasion. It is not interested in a mere change of names, labels, titles or beliefs. It looks to restoring our linkage with the higher consciousness behind the world, whatever name or form we might want to approach it through. The Hindu mind’s wish is that we reconnect with our true Self and Being that transcends all outer appearances and religious divisions and that we honor all the various expressions that Self takes, which can never be reduced to one religion, philosophy, language or culture.”
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha