The Divine Theme
THE DIVINE THEME
JOURNEY OF THE SOUL TO THE OVERSOUL
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING
THIS READING MEDITATION
1. In the first stage, the aspirant will have to read the exposition daily, and simultaneously think about it thoroughly.
2. In the second stage, actual reading would become unnecessary, but the subject matter of the exposition would be mentally reviewed and thought over constantly.
3. In the third stage, it will be quite unnecessary for the mind to revive the words or the thoughts in the expostion separately and consecutively, and all discursive thinking about the subject-matter will come to an end. At this stage of meditation, the mind will no longer be occupied with any trains of thought, but will have a clear, spontaneous and intuitive perception of the sublime Truth which is expressed in the expostion.
THE SOUL AND ITS ILLUSION
Atman, or the soul, is in reality identical with Paramatman or the
Over-soul, which is one, infinite, and eternal. The soul is in fact
beyond the gross, subtle and mental worlds; but it experiences itself
as being limited owing to its identification with the Sharira or the
gross body, Prana or the subtle body (which is the vehicle of desires and
vital forces), or Manas or the mental body (which is the seat of the mind).
The soul, in its transcendental state, is one, formless, eternal and infinite,
and yet it comes to identify itself with the phenomenal world of
forms which are many and finite and destructible.
This is Maya, or the Cosmic Illusion.
STATES OF THE
The phenomenal world of finite objects is utterly illusory and
false. It has three states: (1) the gross, (2) the subtle and (3) the mental.
Although all these three states of the world are false, they
represent different degrees of falseness. Thus, the gross world is
farthest from Truth (God); the subtle world is nearer Truth; and the
mental world is nearest Truth. But all the three states of the world owe
their existence to the Cosmic Illusion which the soul has to transcend
before it realises the Truth.
THE PURPOSE OF CREATION
We have here to discover the purpose of creation. The sole purpose
of creation is that the soul should be able to enjoy the
infinite state of the Over-soul consciously. Although the soul
eternally exists in and with the Over-soul in an inviolable unity, it
cannot be conscious of this unity independently of the creation, which is
within the limitations of time. It must, therefore, evolve consciousness
before it can realise its true status and nature as being identical
with the infinite Over-soul, which is one without a second. The
evolution of consciousness required the duality of the subject and the
object -- the centre of consciousness and the environment (i.e.,
the world of forms).
THE GENESIS OF
THE COSMIC ILLUSION
We are here faced with the problem of accounting for the Cosmic Illusion which is caused by the world of forms. How does the soul get caught up in the illusion? How did the formless, infinite, and eternal soul come to experience itself as having form. and as being finite and destructible? How did the Purusha, or the Supreme Spirit, come to think of itself as Prakriti, or the world of nature? In other words, what is the cause of the Cosmic Illusion in which the soul finds itself?
To realize the true status of the Over-soul which is one, indivisible, real,
and infinite, the soul needed consciousness. The soul did get consciousness;
but this consciousness was not of God but of the universe, not of the
Over-soul but of its shadow, not of the one but of the many, not of the
infinite but of the finite, not of the eternal but of the transitory.
Thus the soul, instead of realising the Over-soul, gets involved in the
Cosmic Illusion; and hence, though really infinite, it comes to
experience itself as finite. In other words, when the soul develops
consciousness, it does not become conscious of its own true nature but
of the phenomenal world which is its own shadow.
THE ORGANIC EVOLUTION AND DEGREES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In order to become conscious of the phenomenal world, the soul
must assume some form (as its medium) for experiencing the world; and
the degree and the kind of consciousness are determined by the nature of
the form which is used as a medium. The soul first becomes conscious of the
gross world by assuming a gross body. The consciousness of the gross world
which it has in the beginning is of the most partial and rudimentary
type; and correspondingly, the soul assumes the most undeveloped form (e.g.,
that of stone), with which evolution begins.
THE DRIVING FORCE
The driving force of evolution is constituted by the momentum which consciousness receives owing to the conservations of the impressions (sanskaras) left by diverse desires or conations. Thus the sanskaras cultivated in a particular form have to be worked out and fulfilled through the medium of a higher form and a correspondingly more developed consciousness of the gross world; and the soul, therefore, has to assume higher and higher forms (like metal, vegetable, worm, fish, bird and animal) until at last it assumes a human form, in which it develops full consciousness (i.e., all the aspects of knowing, feeling and willing) of the gross world.
The manner in which sanskaras result in the evolution of consciousness, and
the corresponding form, has a useful analogy in ordinary experience. If a man
has the desire to act the part of a king on the stage, he can only experience
it by actually putting on the garb of a king and going on the stage. The same
is the case with other aspirations and desires, which can only be worked out
and fulfilled by bringing about an actual change in the entire situation and
the medium, through which the situation can be adequately experienced.
The function of the sanskaras in bringing about the evolution of consciousness
and its corresponding form is not conscious as in the above analogy; but the
parallel will be very suggestive in understanding the driving force of
evolution, which is not mechanical put teleological.
The sanskaras are not only responsible for the evolution of the
form (body) and the kind of consciousness connected with it, but they
are also responsible for the riveting of consciousness to the
phenomenal world. They make emancipation of consciousness (that is,
the withdrawal of consciousness from the phenomenal world to the soul
itself) impossible at the sub-human stage and difficult at the human
level. Since consciousness clings to the previous sanskaras, and
experience of the phenomenal world is conditioned by the use of an
adequate form (body) as a medium, the soul at every stage of evolution
comes to identify itself with the form. Thus the soul, which in
reality is infinite and formless, experiences itself as finite and
thinks of itself as being stone, metal, vegetable, worm, fish, bird,
or animal, according to the degree of the development of
consciousness. Finally, while experiencing the gross world through the
human form, the soul thinks that it is a human being.
THE LAW OF KARMA
The soul has fully developed and complete consciousness in the
first human form, and therefore there is no need for any further
evolution of the gross form (body). The evolution of forms thus comes
to an end with the attainment of the human form. To experience the
sanskaras cultivated in the human form, the soul has to reincarnate
again and again in human forms. The innumerable human forms through
which the soul has to pass are determined by the law of karma, or the
nature of its previous sanskaras (whether of virtue or vice, happiness
or misery). During these lives the soul, which is eternal, identifies
itself with the gross body, which is destructible.
THE SUBTLE AND
While developing full consciousness of the gross world, the soul
simultaneously develops the subtle and mental bodies. But as long as
its consciousness is confined to the gross world alone, it cannot use
these bodies consciously in wakefulness. It becomes conscious of these
bodies and the corresponding worlds only when its full consciousness
turns inward, that is, toward itself. When the soul is conscious of
the subtle world through the subtle body, it identifies itself with
the subtle body; and when it is conscious of the mental world through
the mental body, it identifies itself with the mental body; just as it
identifies itself with the gross body when it is conscious of the
gross world through the gross body.
The homeward journey of the soul consists in freeing itself from the illusion of being identical with its bodies -- gross, subtle and mental. When the attention of the soul turns toward Self-knowledge and Self-realization, there is a gradual loosening and disappearance of the sanskaras that keep consciousness turned toward the phenomenal world. Disappearance of the sanskaras proceeds side by side with piercing through the veil of cosmic Illusion, and the soul not only begins to transcend the different states of the phenomenal world but also to know itself as different from its bodies. The spiritual path begins when the soul tries to find itself and turns its full consciousness toward Truth (God).
At the first stage the soul becomes totally unconscious of its gross body and of the gross world, and experiences the subtle world through the medium of its subtle body, with which it identifies itself. In the second stage the soul is totally unconscious of its gross and subtle bodies, and also of the gross and subtle worlds, and experiences the mental world through the medium of its mental body, with which it now identifies itself. At this stage the soul may be said to be face to face with God, or the Oversoul, which it recognizes as infinite. But though it recognizes the infinity of the Oversoul, which it objectifies, it looks upon itself as being finite because of its identification with the mental body, or mind.
Thus we have the paradox that the soul, which in reality is
infinite, sees its infinite state but still continues to regard itself
as finite; because while seeing its infinite state, it looks upon
itself as the mind. It imagines itself to be the mind and looks upon
the Oversoul as the object of the mind. Further, it not only longs to
be one with the objectified Oversoul but also tries hard to fulfill
In the third stage the full consciousness of the soul is drawn
still further inward toward itself, and it ceases to identify itself
even with the mental body. Thus in the third and last stage, which is
the goal, the soul ceases to identify itself with any of the three
bodies that it had to develop for evolving full consciousness. Now it
not only knows itself to be formless and beyond all the bodies and
worlds but also realizes with full consciousness its own unity with
the Oversoul, which is one, indivisible, real and infinite. In this
realization of the Truth it enjoys infinite bliss, peace, power and
knowledge, which are characteristics of the Oversoul.
In the beginning, because the soul has not yet evolved full consciousness, it is unconscious of its identity with the Oversoul. Hence, though intrinsically inseparable from the Over-soul, the soul cannot realize its own identity with it or experience infinite peace, bliss, power and knowledge. Even after the evolution of full consciousness, it cannot realize the state of the Oversoul -- although it is at all times in and with the Over-soul -- because its consciousness is confined to the phenomenal world, owing to the sanskaras connected with the evolution of consciousness. Even on the path, the soul is not conscious of itself but is conscious only of the gross, subtle and mental worlds, which are its own illusory shadows.
At the end of the path, however, the soul frees itself from all sanskaras and desires connected with the gross, subtle and mental worlds. It then becomes possible for it to free itself from the illusion of being finite, which came into existence owing to its identification with the gross, subtle and mental bodies. At this state the soul completely transcends the phenomenal world and becomes Self- conscious and Self-realized. To attain this goal, the soul must retain its full consciousness and at the same time know itself to be different from the sharir (gross body); the pran (subtle body, which is the vehicle of desires and vital forces); and the manas (mental body, which is the seat of the mind) -- and also know itself as being beyond the gross, subtle and mental worlds.
It follows, therefore, that the soul has to gradually emancipate itself
from the illusion of being finite by
(1) liberating itself from the bondage of the sanskaras, and
(2) knowing itself to be different from its bodies (gross, subtle and mental).
It thus annihilates the false ego (i.e., the illusion that I am the gross body,
I am the subtle body, or I am the mental body).
While the soul thus frees itself from its illusion, it still retains full
consciousness, which now results in self-knowledge and realisation of the Truth.
Escaping through the cosmic illusion and realising, with full consciousness, its
identity with the infintie Over-soul is the goal of the long journey of the soul.
Meherwan Rinpoche, 1926
Meherwan Rinpoche (1894-1969) dictated 'The Divine Theme' around 1936. The
version above, perhaps the earliest, was printed in Bombay on one large sheet,
and distributed free by his devotees. It was not copyrighted, and is in the
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