The Sense of Transcendence
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 24th May 1970
What we were trying to understand last time is of the utmost importance and it is extremely difficult to begin to fathom it. You remember that we started with a statement about the positive male creative energy of the universe, and I made a gesture like this, to suggest that it pulsates. It is timeless, it is spaceless, it is inconceivable, it is indescribable, it is not force, power, energy, God, concept, anything at all that we know of. Nevertheless through the ages we have said It is. We call that the positive male. But the words positive and male are not to be understood as positive and male in our dictionary sense. If we were to imagine this inconceivable creative power as positive and male in our sense, then we are speaking lies, and nothing but lies. Our word positive, our word male has no meaning whatsoever in the context of the Transcendent. So we use these words purely for convenience, to help the mind to somehow escape from, wriggle out of its natural conditioning, its normal tied-up state, and get a feel of this Transcendent Reality. The same applies to the use of the term on the other hand of negative female. Remember I said that this positive male creative pulsation is utterly unconcerned with anything and everything that we are concerned with. It is the negative female aspect of the creative power of the universe, which is the conserving power. It is the nurturer, the sustainer, in theistic religions the Second Person of the Trinity, that which sustains, nourishes, endures, sacrifices itself for the sake of bringing to fruition, and so forth.
It is sometimes helpful to regard this negative female aspect as a river flowing. The other is a pulsation, this is like a river flowing and these words are just to give a feel of difference between aspects of the same thing. In fact the same thing has no aspects, it is we who make the aspects for our convenience and to help ourselves to understand. When the conserving aspect oversteps the mark, the male creative pulsating aspect just destroys it. This is our trouble. Having conserved, nurtured, sustained, brought to fruition, then the feminine aspect of ourselves, of every one of us, whether we are male or female, wants to stay put with that which has already come to fruition. This is the mistake. We grasp at it, we hold on to it, we want it to just stick there, to fossilize in other words. But that is not the nature of Transcendence. That positive creative aspect just disrupts what Man tries to fossilize, he breaks down, and that’s that. This basic conflict is in us, in each and every one of us, whether we be man or woman, it makes no difference, and the positive male side will disrupt quite easily. The female side will want to conserve and keep and preserve. In harmony the male and the female balance each other, the male and the female aspects in us. When the male unbalances without cause for unbalance he acts like Mars the God of War, just spreads destruction. You take a young boy growing up, and if he is very strong and healthy he can’t stop himself from smashing this and smashing the other, because he feels his power thereby. This is the male overbalancing the female in him. The female overbalancing always works therefore for putrefaction, for fossilization. Our task then is to try and get the balance. When we get the balance we are in right relationship with ourselves. If we are in right relationship within ourselves, the male and female aspects of us are in harmony, then there is that natural power in us to have right relationships with other people around us.
It is not easy to see this, leave alone to do it. It is very difficult to see it, because the seeing is not an intellectual process for so many minutes or hours of weeks, and “Lo and behold! I have seen and now I know.” It is not that. The seeing and the knowing is a continuous thing from moment to moment because every single situation in every single moment requires the new seeing and the new knowing. Life is like that, otherwise it’s death, isn’t it? Death in the sense of the broken up, the destroyed or the fossilized. This is the problem, the mind, the intellect particularly, the intellectual aspect of us, has to become extremely resilient, always alive, capable of seeing and responding, being sensitive and responding to the new situation as it arises. As it arises we have to preserve the balance of the male/female in us.
You see what this implies. If the situation demands it, the male aspect in us must function rather more. If the situation demands differently, the female aspect in us must function rather more. In this way the male and female in ourselves maintain a balance. You will appreciate the difficulty. Life is not child’s play, for us adults to live as humans is not child’s play.
Let us recall something else. I think we did talk about this some time back. Man is Transcendence thinking. You see the difficulty? Immediately the mind tries to make a picture of Transcendence. We cannot pictorialize Transcendence. Transcendence is Transcendence, it is only convenient to say the words and to leave it at the saying — thinking in the sense of creating. What power has Transcendence? Obviously not electrical, magnetic, gravitational or any such power, we can deal with those things. But this thing of which hints have come through the ages as thought-power — well, what you and I call thought has no power at all in that sense! The universe has been called the expression of the thought in the mind of God. These are the words we can use, we have not other words to try and suggest something which can be realized by the Holy Ones. That is why such words have been used, because there is a realization which underlies it all. Man is Transcendence thinking, the actual creative process, the creative activity is thought. That is the meaning of the word thought in that context. In Genesis God said, “Let there be” and there was. That is how it is put in Genesis.
Let us look at this thing — Man is Transcendence thinking. I have not come across this in that verbal form anywhere — that is my own verbal form in the English language. But in the Upaniṣads there are several passages which deal with Creation, and one of them starts off, “In the beginning there was Ātma alone in the form of a person.” (That is the English translation.) In the form of a person, purusha-vidhaḥ. The word purusha is translated into English as person. It is a correct translation where the common-or-garden use in Sanskrit of the word purusha is concerned. But the Upaniṣad gives a very suggestive hint to tell us how to understand the word purusha in this context. Of course the hint is quite unphilological! We must forget our philology and all the rest of it! The next sentence states, “Looking around and seeing no other than himself, he said I am”, and so on. Then the next sentence goes on to say, “Because before all this he burnt up all evils, therefore he is called purusha.” It is a little trick with words. Pūrva is the Sanskrit for before. The actual word for burnt in the Upaniṣad is aushat (past tense), from the root ush, so the Upaniṣad says pur ush, “before all this he burnt up all evils” (sarvān pāpmana). Therefore he is called purusha. It is just a trick with words, nothing to do with scientific philology, do remember that. But what is the significance of this? The Holy One, through whom Transcendence was realized, starts by saying, “In the beginning.” But “in the beginning” has no reference therefore to time obviously. Transcendence is timeless, completely timeless, it is dimensionless, it has no dimensions of any sort, quantitative or qualitative, it is immeasurable in every sense. But that sort of realization can and does take place through human beings who have entered that holy state. And then to say before the Ātma! This is utterly meaningless! You cannot have a before in time before a beginning! So obviously the Upaniṣad is not referring to anything like the creation of the objective universe. What the Holy One is saying there when he uses the term in the beginning means that in the ultimate state which one can reach, the timeless, beginningless, endless state, there is only Transcendence, Ātma. There is only Transcendence, no differentiation at all. Then he says that there was Transcendence in the form of a person, purusha-vidhaḥ. I like to translate it as MAN-form.
We can relate this to the other tradition, the Judaic tradition, which everyone says has no relationship with the Indo-Aryan tradition (which I am afraid I cannot accept, I think the two traditions are really too much alike to have no relationship whatever). In the Cabalistic tradition we have the evolution — or rather the development — all words are foolish — the emanations — I’ll use the word which the Jews themselves use — the emanations of YAHWEH as the different Sephiroth, the ten Sephiroth as they are called. The first three represent the Transcendent Trinity and the next six, which are in YAHWEH’s own being on the divine plane, are the primordial Man, Adam Qadmon. The tenth is Malkuth, the Kingdom, this world. Primordial Man is the concept in the Divine Mind. The concept in the Divine Mind is the Logos, the Word. And that Adam, that Man, is the perfect Man.
Now let us look at it in a different way. Supposing that we talk like this — three different orders being in existence, the Transcendent, Mind Only and psycho-physical manifestation. Transcendence thinking, Transcendence creating impresses the entry, luminous, transparent realm of Mind Only with MAN-form, which I would also call the ALL form. MAN-form contains ALL forms within it. There is no form in the realm of Mind Only, but it is a convenient way of talking. The potentiality, the impress into that realm of Mind Only is such that it is a potentiality which will express itself as all the different separate forms throughout the manifested universe. There is a great danger in talking like this. We immediately have to say three orders of being in existence. So the brain thinks of them as three separate ones. All that is false. It is so difficult to find a way of talking about it. This MAN-form is directly related to each one of us. That is the one and only MAN, the concept in the Mind of God, the undying MAN that is born and dies through the innumerable human beings on the globe. The Ṛg-veda gives one hint of it only, as far as I am aware. I think it comes somewhere in the eighth book. As Anada Coomaraswamy put it poetically, “It is the Lord who is the one and only transmigrant.” The Lord is this MAN-form, purusha-vidhaḥ. (Vidhaḥ means ‘in the form of’.) “He who has burnt up all evils.” Look at the actual word which is used in the Upaniṣad. There are two words for ill, for sins, evils. Pāpa simply means sin in the ordinary sense and pāpman is also translated as sin. Pāpman is called evil or sin or wickedness and so forth. Pāpa is also called the same thing. I like to split up the word pāpman, following the lead given by the Upaniṣads of playing tricks with words. Pāpman is pāpa and man — Mind. “He who has burnt up all evil-minded-ness.” This is something quite different, immensely more significant than burning up sins, “Oh, this sin, that sin, why, you can go to your Father Confessor and get absolved from all that.” But to burn up evil-minded-ness — that means the very origin of all my sins is burnt up, the very source, the festering source of it, the womb of Lilith, not Eve but Lilith.
How do I burn up? Why “burn up”? Why was not something else said? Swept clean? No, burnt up. Why? Because this is something very real to the individual process in the unfolding of the holy state. There the attentiveness becomes so intense that there is what we may metaphorically call psychic heat generated, what the Tibetans call gtum-ma. But this psychic heat is the intensity of attention. It is what the Upaniṣad called tapas, attention which absolutely glows, gets white hot. In that white hotness with the intensity of attention the tendencies are actually impregnated in the stuff of the brain and the cells of the body. It is like burning away all the dross and only the pure metal is left. Therefore, burning up all evil-mindedness.
When this evil-mindedness is out, what has happened? The person himself is completely empty, transparent, luminous, the mind is totally empty, it is not cluttered up. That is to say that your consciousness, your power to attend is untrammeled by any accumulation of ideas, beliefs, conceptions. It is free of all conditioning. When that happens, there is no such thing as my mind present. It is the universal Mind only. Because this Universal Mind is the supreme condition of Mind that Man can realize, therefore when talking about Ātma, this Holy One said that in the beginning all this was only Transcendence in the form of a Man. It really is extraordinary once you penetrate into it. Then differentiation and separation and the clouding over of the mind come into being in the objective manifested universe of which we are as organisms part and parcel.
What I have been saying has “upside downed” the Reality. But Reality upside down or right side up is the same Reality. If you take a cup and place it like that on the table or place it the other way, it is the same cup. Only the difference comes in here that, unless one is drunk or inattentive, ones does not try to pour the tea into the cup which is upside down! That is the only difference in actual practice. The Holy Ones of the past had no option but to present it in such a form as to give the impression to all of us who are in the stupefied, drunk, unawakened state, that there is a Transcendent order, a Mind Only, an objective universe, and from up there everything comes down. Not a bit of it, that is not the case. The whole thing is just One, One Total Reality. Get rid of the idea of time coming to an end or a full stop or whatever it is, or until you change. Not that.
Who talked about these things? Who communicated them? People like you and I, excepting that, through their longing to discover ultimate Reality, they went through that process by which they became whole, complete, clean, utterly pure. They had burnt up all evil-mindedness and therefore the realization of that state was expressed in these terms. So we start actually here. Transcendence is not some thing, some person, some consciousness, whatever word you may like to use, which one day said, “Let me in, press Mind Only,” as if Mind Only was some wonderful place or some medium or agent or something and created a Man form, which in its turn made Jim, Jack and Joan! Nothing of the sort. It is you or I in this state of complete holiness, when the mind has realized that silence, that stillness which includes all sound. It is then that this extraordinary awareness is present. And then we talk about it and spin out the whole verbal structure. Then you might say, “What’s the point of having done it at all?” Well, there is a point. If we are concerned with the heart of religion, we are concerned with the flowering out of those hidden aspects of Mind which are the realm of Purity and Beauty and Truth and Love and Goodness in us. Unless there is some sense of Transcendence our efforts get misapplied, misdirected. What is one of the obvious manifestations of this? The man seeking God, Truth, Liberation, Nirvana, is a grabber just as much as the man seeking money or property or wine, women, song! If the man of religion were not a grabber he would never try to organize religion, he would never set up the religious life as a desirable objective, as a value by which the individual will gain something. Here are the evidences which we must see very very clearly.
When the intellect is at work, we can see all this well enough in the other fellow, the professional priest and prelate and evangelist and what not. But for me to be awake all day and every day to this aspect of my hidden mental activity, this is the real thing. I must be awake to it in myself. If I merely criticise other people, however true the criticism may be, then there is no real holiness in me, no true concern, no pure concern for Transcendence. It is impure, it is self-oriented. When I merely criticise the other person (this is ordinary psychology) I am just puffing up my own ego. I am saying what a fine fellow I am! Look how bad he is! But this is the cancer in the mind which has plagued us through the ages, this sort of thing. So it is of the utmost importance to have some sense of Transcendence which continuously purifies us and makes our life energy go in the right direction. Remember, a sense of Transcendence. When I am using the word sense here in this context, I mean sense quite free of all sense forms, namely sight forms, sound forms, touch forms, taste forms, etc. If you really examine, if you can really look deeply into your own mind, you will find that all the time we are making particular forms in relation to Transcendence. The ordinary theistic believer will make these forms in relation to God. We deal with God just as we in our youthful, romantic state deal with the ones we like. We make all sorts of pictures. “I would like my Prince Charming or my Princess Charming to be thus and thus and thus”, anything but what he or she really will be! And when the ragbag actually does turn up, there will be a little bit of trouble and disappointment, and then we gloss over it and just don’t look at it, fall into the trap and afterwards… “I wasn’t thinking, was I?” It was not a case of I wasn’t thinking, I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t seeing straight. We do precisely that with God or Truth or Transcendence or anything at all. We make all kinds of pictures which are conditioned by our particular sense forms, of sight, sound, taste, touch, etc., depending on which senses in us are more powerful than the others. When I was a little fellow, my God was certainly capable of far more wonderful symphonies than Beethoven’s Ninth! Beethoven to me in my teens was God, and so of course God in Himself must be a super Beethoven! You cannot get away from this kind of thing, this particular conditioning, this creating, or rather raising up God or Transcendence or Truth or the Ultimate in my image! The whole point of the religious life and of spiritual freedom is to get free of all this. That is why it is necessary to have a sense of Transcendence. What word can I use but sense? To have a feel of Transcendence, to have a touch of Transcendence… But you see, all these words are related to the senses. All our words are bound to be related to our sense experience.
What we call our own mind is a sort of a ragbag heap of all sense impressions, all sorts of thought forms as we may call them. They are beliefs, ideas, conceptions, knowledge of principles, of methods and this, that and the other. This is what we call our mind. But this is not the unified Mind, this is the conditioned mind. One of the most important consequences of the inward discipline is that all these sense impressions and sense consciousnesses become quiet. There is a state of rest, of stillness. In that state of stillness this Mind on its own plane, the unified Mind, MAN, at last is able to spring into action through the particular living person who has become still. Look at that wonderful statement in the Psalms, “Be still and know that I am God”, God the indefinable. But when one is still one knows Ātma in the form of the person. The word person is a sacred word in that sense, the word person stands for the Holy One who has burnt up all evil-mindedness.
Let me put it in another form, in whom all evil-mindedness has been burnt out. Then here on Earth the psycho-physical organism is the instrument for the Lord, the doctrine of Incarnations, the Lord incarnates in so-and-so and so-and-so. Then that Man-form, the perfect Man has got out of the unredeemed state, the sinful Adam state, and become the second Adam, the redeemed one, the perfect MAN.
The perfect Man is not a Man, because Transcendence thinking is MAN the perfect MAN, and because the Man on Earth here, having burnt up all evils, all evil-mindedness is in complete harmony with MAN, the perfect MAN which is All-Mind. (Of course this is a logical form in which to present it, but do not think for a moment that it is a “because” in the ordinary sense of the term.) Therefore one sees that Transcendent Mind Only and we here are directly linked.
There are some theistic religions which have always maintained that God and Man are utterly separate. This is utterly false. There is only One Total Reality. If this sense of Transcendence really lights up in us it enables us quite easily to be totally attentive all the time. This is the point. It is a storehouse of power, of power which can never be misused. If there is a real sense of Transcendence, that sense of Transcendence grows in us when we do see all the flaws, our conceit, our egoism, our vanity, our graspingness, our resentment, ill will, hatred and above all stupidity and ignorance. When we are really awake to all that, then we behave well, and that’s that. Then we can really attend, truly attend. True attention is possible only in the state of un-self-consciousness. Let there be self-consciousness and there is no true attention. The separation is out. The unity of the universe is restored in here where that unity was sundered, broken up, and therefore the sinful state prevails.
Do not try to make this or regard this as a philosophy. That would be just another bondage. Worse, it is a force for damnation. It is one of the great misfortunes of the world that they have become open to the world. They have been written, printed and they are open to the world. The stupid man, the ignorant man, the grasping man, the man consumed with lust and desire and so forth, will always misuse anything and everything. The poor devil has no option but to do so. To misuse God is to misuse the Supreme Power that there is. Just look at history. Look at the terrible things which have been done in the name of the Highest. I do not know anything done in the world which is so terrible as all the things which have been done in the name of God, the evil things done. There have been good things also but those are not problems. We get concerned (concerned in the ordinary sense of the word) because we are troubled. But has anything caused such pain, misery, horror, ugliness in human life as the things which have been done in the name of God, religion and truth, and all the rest of it? But let the sense of Transcendence grow. Do not seek it, there will be inevitable failure. You know why? Because I, the imperfect person, do not know anything about how to seek the Perfect. That’s that. I don’t know it. Let it come. There is Grace operating through the universe, let it operate, do not hinder it, it will come. Just use the senses rightly. Human beings are so devilishly self-indulgent! See the beauty of Nature, of all that there is. Be sensitive to it, respond to it, which means do not grab at it, let it be, let it pass on. This mysterious power in the universe moves all things all the time, pours out endless beauty. Nature is prodigal, isn’t she? Hear, touch, taste without grasping, without wanting the repetition of a thing. It will always come again and again in different forms. But woe unto the person who wants it in the same form, he is a fossilizer and the male positive creative power just breaks him up, smashes him up, won’t have it. That is the terrible aspect of the Lord God, which is a fact. Let’s have no namby-pamby nonsense about God being so very nice and gentle and kind and so forth. As and when he smacks me, that is the complete end of me! So, realize that. As the senses are used rightly, the avenues of communication between this organism and the Totality are always open. The avenues are clean, there are no flaws in them. So all the time Transcendence flows freely through each and every single organism. When the organism is completely attentive to that, then this Transcendence in Man form and the glory and the beauty and the perfection of Man are realized in that person.
What happens to that person on Earth, that man, that woman on Earth? There is extraordinary happiness, extraordinary peace, extraordinary action. I use the word extraordinary but actually that is the normal happiness, peace, action which distinguishes the human. The Kingdom of Heaven, Nirvana, Liberation are not to be sought, to be achieved, to be attained, to be won. Every single thing which is done in that way is a self-destructive thing. It destroys its own self. Let it be. This has been called the Temple of the Lord. Keep it clean and the Lord will be visible in every nook and cranny of it. Otherwise that Transcendent is lost in a cloud of dust which blinds one’s eyes. Let that Transcendence emerge. “Oh, I’ll do this, oh, we’ll get that, and that’ll be nice,” — this is how we spend our days. “Let me ring up Tom or Jenny or whatever it is, we’ll have a nice evening together.” It is not the fact of having rung up Tom or Jenny and spending an evening together, but this calculating-ness in us, this grabbing, grabbing, grabbing. The consciousness which grabs brings to birth and therefore there must be death, the death which is destruction, which is attended with sorrow, loss, pain, misery and all the rest of it, as the Buddha called it domanassa, which is Pali for duh meaning bad, and manas, the mind, the mind made bad, hurt, dis-eased. There are the real roots of sorrow, difficultly, pain and the mess of the world.
Let this sense of Transcendence be nurtured. Now bear in mind, on the one hand this Creative Power, on the other that same Power which has a nurturing aspect, a sustaining aspect, in order to bring to fruition. But I, the ordinary man, must be so attentive, so wise that I never hold on and try to make stay put once the fruition has arrived. Let it go, let the life process just go on and on and on.