The Absolute And The Relative
SRI SWAMI KRISHNANANDA
This article is from the book “Essays in Life and Eternity”.
The comedy of the soul’s eternally communing itself in the Glory of the Kingdom of God, Brahmaloka, is well known to have turned into an apparently tragic circumstance of the soul dissociating itself from that Universal Glory by means of an inscrutable tendency to self-affirmation alienating the soul from its organic integratedness with the Universal Life. This situation has been traditionally declared as an epic fall of the soul headlong in a topsy-turvy way into the vast sea of the turmoil of it being necessary at that time to visualize the universal existence as an external world of perception and to consider every other soul as a socially disconnected entity.
This fall from eternity to temporality is characterized by three torturous features, namely,
- The immediate cutting off of the soul from the Universal Sustaining Force;
- The consequent fear gripping the soul with hunger, thirst, and a constant apprehension of all-round insecurity;
- A permanent involvement of the soul in a perpetually unreliable and suspicious relationship with the outer society of similar souls. It looks as if death yawns with its open jaws, dread in tooth and claw.
In this threefold blow dealt to the soul simultaneously from three different directions, which is virtually from every direction, the soul loses itself practically in entirety. Added to this, there is perhaps, a fourth factor of the external world looking a mightier vastness than the localized individual and it becoming incumbent on every individual to depend in abject servitude on every bit of thing of which the external world consists.
This sorrow of life is attempted to be avoided or at least mitigated by the erroneous effort of the soul to patch up the finitude of its individuality by accumulating and adding accretions from the outer world in terms of material property, social power and aesthetic enjoyment through pleasurable sensations generated by the contact of sense-organs with their corresponding objects in the world. The entire effort ends in utter failure to accomplish anything at all worth the while by this means of an upside-down arrangement to place oneself in a condition of security, power and happiness. This totally mistaken meandering of the soul in a world of such agonizing tribulations has naturally to end in its defeat by the realities of life landing the soul in a helpless cyclic movement, as if it is mounted on a circulating wheel, through an almost endless series of repeated births and deaths. This is a veritable drama of the soul’s movement from sorrow to sorrow in a more and more intensifying manner.
Mankind, today, with all its appurtenances of knowledge and experience gained through historical movement in several thousands of years on this earth, can be said to have learned no lesson at all as to where its true blessedness lies or what are the mistakes that it is daily committing in its life at every moment of time. Humanity’s blunders in its entirely empirical-oriented sense-ground perception of the values of life are as it has been briefly outlined above. If the human individual persists in this kind of thinking and acting inwardly as well as outwardly, such a life of the human individual cannot but be designated as a cauldron of hell-fire, which unfortunately, to the bound individual, appears to be a highly satisfactory state of affairs, because of its dictum, as the poet well said in this context, that ‘It is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven’.
The hope of mankind is not going to be in the continuance of this state of affairs even though it may go on through millions of years of human history. The only way of true freedom and final beatitude is to bring about a transvaluation of values and for the soul to stand erect in right perspective instead of viewing things as though a mirror of reflection or with head below and legs up. The whole situation has to be reconstructed in one’s own consciousness, firstly by not imagining that human society is really external to oneself, that the world is truly outside the process of perception, or that eternity is removed from temporality by spatial distance. This is so because the perception of an external multitude of society consisting of human and other living beings arises on account of the said topsy-turvy perception caused by one’s alienation from the totality of the Absolute. The establishment of oneself in a state of consciousness which stabilizes one’s being in a non-externalized Universal Pure Subjectivity of Selfhood is the final panacea for the sorrow of mortal existence. This is the great meditation in which every soul has to engage itself throughout its career in life. This is the final duty inseparable from man’s aspiration, nay, the only in duty in life.