Read more from the Being Truly Human May 1997 Newsletter
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Caxton Hall on 18th November 1953
Continued from part 1 and part 2
That brahman, the Buddha, was one of the supreme heirs and noblest representatives of the profoundest religious development the world has ever seen. He who was truth-lord was also love-lord. As the young seeker of truth, he saw suffering around him, suffering as we ordinarily understand it. As the all-enlightened, Brahma-become Buddha of his maturity, he saw suffering,
dukkha everywhere and in everything, including what we commonly regard as good and worthwhile. But this dukkha, this ill-state meant something infinitely profounder than sickness, old age, infirmity, heartbreak and the entire host of the ephemeral ills of this world. This dukkha meant absence of permanent Nirvana, absence of that upekkha which is the dynamic poise that knows no shaking, absence of that absolute freedom of mind which is won through the perfecting of character and of clear-visioned insight, absence of the power to stop at will the flow of discursive thought and enter Superconsciousness. It was this dukkha from which the Buddha found and taught the Way of Deliverance. This suffering as taught by the Buddha is identical with the Upanishadic anguish of separation from the Tad-va-nam, the goal of love-longing, which is Brahman the Immortal Beloved. And in both cases, the transcending of this anguish, which is the realization of Brahman by a Muni, of Nirvana by a Buddha, is the realization of Superconsciousness.
The Master who experiences the Immortal in Superconsciousness naturally and inevitably teaches his disciples that that is the goal. Equally naturally and inevitably, those who seek the Immortal ask questions and await answers regarding the nature of this goal. But questions and answers, framed in words which express thoughts, all arise and are confined to the sense-mind sphere, which is the sphere of uprising-proceeding-dying, or the sphere of mortality. The terms and criteria of the sphere of mortality and of separate entity or diversity do not properly apply to or correspond to that of immortality and external existence which is the unity. So the inadequacy of the mortal inevitably distorts the as-it-really-is of the Immortal. Human beings, with minds confined to the sphere of mortality, easily conceive of a god in their own image, exalted to a superlative degree. But this god, as an entity, and with man-bestowed qualities, is a strange idol, a grey image of the unimaginable reality — unimaginable but fully realizable, in Superconsciousness. When mortals say that their Teacher is the Son of God, one with God, etc., they are talking devoutly; but in their minds there is a considerable misconception in relation to the truth of what they say. Again, those who spin out theologies which purport, sincerely enough, to make plain the eternal light, do in fact cast fantastic shadows whilst trying to utilize that light. You cannot use the light of truth for your own purposes. You can only become the light, be enlightened. And only he with a pure heart can clearly see that light. If and when he who has attained uses terms like Brahman, God, Eternity, Nirvana, etc., he knows what he is talking about, for the meaning of those terms is a blissful, actual, inward realization by him, whereas for him who has not realized the Silence, the meaning of those terms is an externalized product of his imagination.
Fully understanding the difficulty, almost the impossibility, of containing the unconditioned immortal within the strangely fashioned cup of restrictive speech-thought; the great Munis and Teachers, Arahants and Buddhas, refused to be professional theologians. Instead they demonstrated in their own persons the consequence in daily life of their Brahman-becoming. They taught the Way of Life which leads to the realization here-now of Eternal Life, the way which transforms a man into a true brahman.
It is particularly significant that the last canto of the Dhammapada is called the canto of the brahman, and the refrain, “Him I call a brahman”, is used in no less than thirty-two verses to describe him who has trod the steps of the Noble Eightfold Path and has attained the supreme Nirvana.
Some five thousand years and more have passed since the days when Enoch walked with God, days which may perhaps coincide with the days when Yama chose death and abandoned his body, entered the inner world and was granted lordship over the highest of the three heavens. With the passing of the centuries, the great Rishis and Munis of Ancient India handed down their treasured wisdom of the Way of Deliverance, and of the holy experience of Immortality in Superconsciousness, to their disciples, their “sons” of proven worth. That holy experience they termed Brahman-knowing, crossing over sorrow, crossing over sin, liberation from the knots of the heart. In the course of a millennium or so, theologies and strange theories began to appear. Theologies and theories are the sport of the not fully enlightened princes of intellect, sometimes kings of mere verbiage. And when the truth of the Way of Deliverance was in danger of submergence, there came that Sakyamuni, Gotama the Buddha, to wrest immortality from the very jaws of Mara the death dealer. The Buddha gave a fresh emphasis to the practical treading of the Perfect Way; and he and his Bhikkhus did not cloister themselves in one place for their lifetime, but moved from town to town and village to village.
More than twenty-four centuries have gone by since the Buddha uttered his last words: Strive on with diligence. The face of the world has undergone remarkable change. Great deeds and terrible deeds have been done. Knowledge has piled up mountainously. But the heart of fevered man is restless, questing for the end of his anguish, questing for the goal of his love-longing. Man professes disillusionment today, puts on the mask of obstinate incredulity, and plays at being objective and scientific, matter-of-fact and rational. But Life will sweep away all his professions and pretensions in her irresistible tide, for man, ultimately, must come to the Light, even if the only path left to him is through the portals of death.
Do you look, then, far some petty consolation? Do you await some futile message of hope? Let it be clearly realized that in the transcendent awareness of eternal existence there is no room and no meaning for either hope or despair, either pessimism or optimism. Here-now is the Ultimate, the Supreme, for we continually exist in the very midst of the omnipresent, and there is not a secret of the heart which is hid from the gaze of the eyes which never sleep.
So the question is, where do you want to be? At home in the omniscience, bending every energy in harmony with the omnipotence, or buffeted between the extremes of the dualistic temporal, the miserable slave of savage folly?
In this our twentieth century, here, now, it is the springtime of the Spirit once again. And it is also the harvest time of the Spirit. This simultaneity of the spring and the harvest is the sign and miracle for our day. And he who is ready, or will diligently prepare himself, will be an active participator in this miracle, and not a mere blind spectator.
Once again the Portals are open — the Portals through which have constantly passed the great Sons of God — the Prophets of old, Rishis and Munis, Arahants and Buddhas, a wonderful company of Perfected Men, the Brahman-become, among wham shines the overtowering figure of that brahman, the Buddha.
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