THE STUDY OF EASTERN LITERATURES
Brahman -- The Total Godhead
* Existence Itself
* Absolute Oneness
* Absolute Joy
* Absolute Knowledge
* Absolutely Unknowable by conscious human mind
* Absolutely Present within all creatures/objects
Brahman Within = Atman -- (The two are One: No Division)
* Brahman, in absolute sense, can not be known by conscious human mind.
But Brahman can be experienced:
* Samadhi = Union with God: superconscious state achieved
by saints. Steps to reach this mystical vision are described in Bhagavad
(1) sense contact with outer world broken;
(2) by discrimination, spiritual discipline, meditation--mind turns
inward on itself;
(3) realize presence of Atman (indwelling Godhead).
* Brahman beyond action; therefore, Brahman can not be said to create/destroy.
Ishwara (Brahman united with His Power) = Creator, Preserver,
Destroyer of Universe = Personal God. Ishwara is all human intellect
can know of God.
* Ishwara has three personalities/aspects:
(1) Brahma--divine function of creation
(2) Vishnu--divine function of preservation
(3) Shiva--divine function of dissolution (not destruction).
(Universe is never destroyed. Since universe is subject to eternal
power of Brahman, universe is part of beginningless/endless process
which alternates between two phases:
* When one "expression" of universe dissolves, it passes
into phase of "potentiality"--a seed-state awaiting its
* Creatures in universe continually being reborn/redissolved. They
return to power of Brahman which sent them forth, remaining there
in unmanifested state until time for re-manifestation arrives.
Power of Brahman = Prakriti/Maya (basis of all mind/matter)
* Whenever Ishwara wishes to be born among humans, He fashions Himself
a body out of Prakriti. But, as God, He remains the Master
of Prakriti, even in his human form. He enters/leaves the world
* Humans are also a combination of the Atman and Prakriti.
But humans are subject to Prakriti, deluded by it into thinking
they are not Atman.
* When humans unite with Atman, they throw off delusion, winning
liberation from process/cycle of birth/death. Liberated men/women
cannot be reborn because they are no longer subject to Prakriti.
Prakriti = composed of Three Gunas (forces):
* in phase of potentiality, three gunas in state of perfect equilibrium
and Prakriti remains undifferentiated.
* manifestation/creation phase disturbs equilibrium. Gunas begin combining
to form all aspects of differentiated mind/matter. All three gunas present
in everything, but one guna always predominates.
* In Physical world:
sattwa = everything pure and fine
rajas = active principle
tamas = principle of solidity/resistance
--sattwa predominates in sunlight
--rajas predominates in erupting volcano
--tamas predominates in block of granite
* Gunas also represent different stages in evolution of any entity:
--sattwa = essence to be realized
--tamas = inherent obstacles to that realization
--rajas = power by which obstacles removed and essential form becomes
* In Mind of Humans:
--sattwa = tranquility, purity, kindness
--rajas = passion, restlessness, aggressive activity
--tamas = stupidity, laziness, inertia
* Sometimes one guna predominates in human mind, sometimes another;
thus, human moods/characteristics vary accordingly. But we can cultivate
any one guna by actions/thoughts/ways of living:
--tamas can be overcome by cultivating rajas
--rajas can be overcome by cultivating sattwa
* But ultimate ideal is to transcend sattwa and reach Atman (above/beyond
Some other important terms:
- Dharma-- "the truth within"; one's obligation,
- (1) work, a deed, action
- (2) effect of work, deed, action
- (3) causal law governing action and its effects in physical,
psychological, spiritual planes.
- (1) Union with God
- (2) prescribed path of spiritual life. Various yogas are different
paths to union with God. I. E., Jnana Yoga = path of wisdom/contemplation;
Karma Yoga = Path of selfless, God-dedicated action.