The Eternal Song of Life
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Elmau, Bavaria on 24th September 1977
You have heard me say that this psycho-physical organism which bears our name is one meaning of the Garden of Eden. For us as we are it is perhaps the more important meaning. There is another meaning also. What applies to us as microcosms applies also to the totality of manifestation, the macrocosm, the whole cosmos as such. And whilst within us there is the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden as well as the Tree of Good and Evil in that selfsame place in the middle of the Garden, there is only the Tree of Life as such in the macrocosm, the total cosmos. This total cosmos is alive, every bit of it. There is nothing which is not alive. We are so brought up and taught that we think of Life in biological terms principally. But the word Life in the old scriptures of the world, as taught by the Perfected Holy Ones, applies to all that exists without exception. You will find for instance in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad this wonderful statement: Brahman (the Absolute All) is Prāṇa (Life, Life power, creative energy). Brahman is the Void, not to be regarded as that which is a vacuity containing nothing whatsoever. It is the Void of the nature of self-containment. When we ourselves are complete and perfect, we are void of all that limits, all that is evil, but we remain self-contained. In that sense, not in the sense of a box containing things, Brahman is Void, and Brahman is bliss. Brahman is the Tree of Life also therefore, or to put it in our ordinary English language, the One Total Reality is Life.
Now with us, because something new had to emerge into manifestation, namely this power of looking within ourselves and starting our long journey out of the limited animal awareness in which we started to full total consciousness, we had to develop this discriminative consciousness which we have, separating this from that, the good from the bad, the kind from the cruel and so on, and thereby introducing conflict into our lives till we transcended all. Because of this, in plucking the fruit of the Tree of Life, of which the Gods eat quite freely without any ill consequence, we, not being yet sufficiently prepared, plucked of the Tree of Life and scarred that Tree through our discriminative consciousness which has not recognised yet (even today mankind has not recognised) what is the goal of our development and its fulfilment, namely the realization by Transcendence of Itself as perfect Man through us. Therefore that is our fundamental ignorance and blindness. And it is towards the freeing of our vision, by perfecting this limited self, that the whole process goes on until once again this Tree of Life will stand in the body of man, the unscarred Tree. And its fruit will be that awareness, that mode of existence, that awareness of existence, which means that once again we are in complete communion within the total body of Creation.
This creative process is like a vibration, it is hard to compare it with anything earthly and mortal that we know of. It is an extraordinary pulse of creative activity. This creative activity, this pulse, we may compare with what we call a sound. Just as a musical note has a rate of vibration, this sound, this rate of vibration, is the Eternal Song of Life. I say eternal because it is Transcendence Itself, and Transcendence knows no limitation in terms of space, time and matter. Therefore time is completely subsumed, taken up into the Timeless. It is in that sense that I use the word subsumed. It is completely taken up into the Timeless. If you want to look deeper into the meaning of the word subsumed, recall how in Christian scriptures it is said of Jesus that the manhood was taken up into the Godhead, in that sense subsumed. That is why we are held always within Transcendence whatever we do, and Transcendence sings the Song of Life eternally. Listen for that Song of Life. You will hear that Song of Life if you do not expect anything because that Song cannot be analysed, cannot be described by us. Any song that we know is in terms of time. The rhythm of Transcendence is unrestricted by the beat of time, one, two, three, four. If you can feel that Song of Time in its Eternity, if you can be so quiet and still that it suddenly is there, and you do not hear it with your ears (I can only use that word hear), if you hear it with the Eternal Spirit within you, you will discover something very strange about that song. That Song of Life in Eternity sounds all its tones at the same time. All its tones are there together at once. Its tones are the differences, as we call them, which we with our limited vision and hearing can see and hear in the cosmos. So for us they are different sounds. But our seeing takes place no faster than the speed of light, our hearing takes place no quicker than the speed of sound, a mere three hundred metres or so per second. But that sound is something which is simultaneous throughout the cosmos, and what we see as the difference is something which takes place totally in terms of Eternity which you cannot split up. And yet it is a multitudinous, incalculably multitudinous variety of sounds, and they are all together.
And there is something else which is very curious. When you hear that sound, it makes no noise. It is a silent tone, and that is the meaning of silence in its profoundest sense, as far as I can present it to you. That silence contains all that we understand as sound, and we understand it as sound only in terms of differentiation, separation, whereas that is the undifferentiated sound. That is why in its creative activity it produces a cosmos which manifests the life of the Eternal. If all those sounds were heard simultaneously at this moment by us as we are, it would completely shatter us. In fact it would shatter the cosmos too, if it was sound in our sense of the word, because it would be a predominant vibration which breaks down manifestation, overwhelming vibration. If you are marching over a bridge you break step, otherwise the rhythm of it becomes so terrific that the bridge breaks down. It is a little bit like that.
But listen to that Song of Life by being quiet, quiet inside. You may be talking, you may be driving a car, but if in your innermost awareness there is this silence, that silence will be that single tone which is the Song of Life itself. And you will find that the brain will become quiet then in the midst of turmoil, bustle, noise all around. Be very careful not to be self-deceived. This is the difficulty which arises when this sort of thing is written down or a speaker speaks it. If the ideas appeal to you, then your own desire to experience it crops up. But if my desire is present there, the Divine is silent; I cannot hear that Song. Not my will, but thine; not my desire but thy creative activity in which all my desire, which is the potentiality of Transcendence within me, will get fulfilled. You see how different selflessness is from unselfishness. Unselfishness is merely the opposite of selfishness and the two are in conflict. But when you transcend the whole self, then you have transcended the opposites; the conflict is out. The Tree of Good and Evil, at least for the time being, inside your being has become the Tree of Life, the pure Tree of Life, unspoilt, unscarred. You see the magic (I am using that word deliberately) of religion, the religious life and the vision which comes into being, true vision, unspoilt by merely aesthetic imaginative activity.
Imaginative activity deludes us. Imagination has its play in our lives, in our childhood. It is necessary for the psychical growth of the child in a right and happy way. But when you are approaching spiritual and psychological adulthood, maturity, then imagination and all intellectual acquisition is a burden, it is a drawback, it deceives, because we never know, unless we learn this, that all this belongs to the realm of the finite and the mortal, it is not the reality of Eternity, of the One Total Reality. That is why you have to beware of imagination, be careful. Otherwise imagination which operates within the bounds of the self will spoil the truth and spoil the beauty, the real order, that eternal order which is expressive of the creative action in Eternity of this primordial creative power, this creative energy to which we have given so many names, God, Transcendence, the Infinite, whatever you like. So listen, listen silently without expecting anything, without wanting anything. It will happen, it will come to you. Truth, Beauty, the Reality, the Supreme Thing within us which we may call man, will suddenly come upon you. In this sphere and state you do not have to seek the Beloved, you do not have to long for the Beloved, because, if you do, then there is a separate I longing and seeking another which is called the Beloved. When the self is totally un-selfed, suddenly the Beloved is there. It is like that.
You see what we, who have evolved out of the animal, are growing towards. It may take some millions of years, who knows, for Mankind, all Mankind in the world, to fulfil this. But there are always those microcosms which, by the grace of the Eternal if you like, somehow come to fruition, to fulfilment. Do not try to manufacture explanations of why that is so. They may satisfy intellectual curiosity, but all those explanations are faulty, or they are positively wrong. You do not seek explanations there. That is why they say: Shut your eyes, look down in the presence of God because that light will blind your eyes. Similarly listen to this Song in the right way and its vibrations will not shatter you. It will sustain you and will release you into the Transcendent realm of the Ultimate Real, whatever that may be.
I have said that this single tone creates the cosmos. It is that same tone which gradually withdraws the cosmos into primordial chaos. But this withdrawal is not a process merely in time and space. It is a timeless activity which goes on. It is free of the limitations of distance and separation. If you can sense that, you will get an idea of the deeper meaning of space especially as used in the old days in the East. That Sanskrit word ākāsa, which is translated as space, is not just our ordinary modern conception of space, something which contains the galaxies and the sun and the stars and so forth, it is something else. This space is actual being, it is substance almost. So this withdrawal takes place in a mysterious way. And again, to make the mystery more extraordinary, it happens simultaneously with the creation of the cosmos. Now perhaps you may understand a little bit better this thing which people in the past called Life/Death as the creative pulsation, which I prefer to call Life/Other Life. When I make a gesture like this, obviously there is separation. But it is an inflowing and an outflowing together at the same time. Imagination cannot visualize it. Sometimes when you see on something like television this sort of vibrating movement going inwards and going outwards, your eyes usually separate out the two movements, although they are absolutely simultaneous. It is like that, it happens simultaneously. If you can feel this you will understand how and why the microcosm, you yourself, I myself, is totally contained in the macrocosm. So it is impossible to break the relationship with Transcendence, with God or the Infinite or whatever word you like. It is impossible to break it. We can hide it, as the clouds will come and hide this indescribable beauty of Elmau on a morning like this. Clear sunshine and the mountains and everything speak another message.
Supposing we are taken up into this state and supposing this creative activity, this cosmos, this spirit of Life were to talk to any one of us like a human being talks in language, what sort of language would Transcendence use? Transcendence is The Alone, and when we are taken up into this kind of condition, we also microcosmically, individually are The Alone, not lonely. If I am lonely, I feel separateness, I feel I am cut off from all the rest. But when I truly awake to the fact that I am The Alone, then I am in total relationship. I am in perfect rhythmic at-one-ment with the Transcendent Alone. If you can appreciate this you will understand why, as part of the discipline of the Holy Ones, they always went apart for a time, during the day or the night, in order to commune, to meditate, to pray. This is the real, deep meaning of prayer, this mystery of the interaction of the Alone, which is oneself, with the Alone which is God. Now supposing God speaks in our language, He speaks only through the presence of His feminine aspect, His active aspect is feminine, what we mistakenly (we can choose our words of course) call the negative. Just think of the actual fact in matter, the atoms which have a positive nucleus and negative electrons revolving round it, associated with it. It is those negative electrons which are the active part and determine the properties and modes of manifestation and activity of that particular chemical element. That is why I call Nature the Bride of God. She is the one who does all the work. He is the one that inspires and is the source of the power which Nature wields, just through presence, that inspiring presence. It is just through sheer presence that there is perpetually through the universal process this thing which is the Immaculate Conception, and that Immaculate Conception constantly expresses itself as a perpetual Virgin Birth. So Nature, the Mother, ever producing, remains the immaculate, unstained Virgin. This is the origin of the religious teachings with regard to marriage and its sanctity and so forth. In the lives of some human beings this gets fulfilled (but only some), fulfilled with a wonderful perfection.
If the Spirit of Life speaks, especially with a day like this which is very favourable, if you walk out alone meditatively, you might hear that voice say, “I move in the waters and the air and sustain your life. I stay still in the mountains and give you power and the strength and will to stand on your own feet and realize the Aloneness within you. My invisible glory soars to the zenith out from the topmost peaks and draws your aspirations unto Me and teaches you silence. Now, here, as you are, you see only the reflections of Me, the handiwork of the Bride of God is but the reflection of inspiring power. But you will know the substance of Me when you live wholly open to My most benign and gracious messenger, Death.” Death the Other Life, not Death the disrupter. The disrupter, the breaker up in illness, not merely physical but the illness of the soul, breaks up the form which has outlived it usefulness and its function of being the true representative of the Eternal. “My most benign and gracious messenger, Death.” Feel it out and you will be at home in this pulsation of Life/Other Life/Life/Other Life which takes place simultaneously. If you do not obstruct Death, then you will find that your awareness will get more and more in rhythm with that indescribable vibration of Transcendence itself. It will never be like it, because the living form cannot stand that; it will break. But you can be in tune with it, just as if you are sounding the note doh or re in the bass with few vibrations, you can be in tune with doh or re some octaves higher up, not out of tune with it, in that way you can feel it and know it. And that is the messenger who brings you the wine of Eternal Life. Do not obstruct that messenger, he is there perpetually.
And you might hear that voice say, “Beloved Son, My living image, I am God. No words or thoughts reveal Me. When all thy separate selfness is gone, thou wilt know Me because thou art Me.” When selfness is gone, then pure Love, this Transcendental Love, which is God, which is the activity of Transcendence bringing into being the cosmos, that Transcendent Love will fill your whole being and make you “My living substance.”