Why do so many saints from so many traditions desire to merge with the Absolute Truth?
Transcribed by: Jyoti Shirasangi
Why do Sages desire to merge with the absolute truth? In many religious traditions, we see that there are Sages who have the characteristics of advanced spiritualist, still they desire to merge. Why this desire to merge so widespread when it is a lower desire then compared to pure devotional service?
Sometimes, when we are looking at things from a pure devotional perspective, we have the tendency to be dismissive about everything else. That’s why we think merging in extremely negative terms. It is true that, there are devotees like Prabhodananda sarasvati, who said, “Kaivalyam Narkayate: i.e. impersonal liberation is like Hel. Why did he say that? Because there is an opportunity for reciprocation of love between the Lord and the devotee in the spiritual world. That opportunity is not in the impersonal merging, “SHLOKA”. The bhagvatam classes, Salokya, Sarishta, Samipya, Sayujya, and Ekatvamityeka. So, Ekatva is also accepted as one of the liberations, but Lord Kapila says that, a devotee doesn’t accept any of these liberations, if there is no opportunity to serve the Lord. This means, there is great ecstasy in service, which a devotee doesn’t want to lose at any time.
Now, specifically coming to the point of merging, it is from the point of view of living in the material world over here, it is an exalted realization. Now, the realization of the pure devotion is higher, but still even liberation is a very exalted realization, and that’s why, it should be given due respect.
That’s why, it is a lofty spiritual aspiration, and only when we see it from the perspective of the loftiest spiritual aspiration i.e. pure love, then it seems to be lesser. But we cannot at our level (when we are caught in material consciousness), consider liberation to be an important or insignificant. It is also glorious.
And why is the desire there? Because there are two important factors to recognize over here. It requires certain amount of spiritual insight and wisdom, to seek something beyond the material world. Actually the material world is the place of misery, but because of the power of illusion, we think that, it is the place of enjoyment, or it will become a place of enjoyment for us if we make some adjustments in our life. This is a vein hope. And those who are able to see through this, they have adequate spiritual intelligence to be able to perceive something beyond the world, and actually for someone who has some spiritual intelligence, anything beyond the world is attractive. And this includes the manifestations of the Lord, just like the impersonal manifestation.
So, first of all, when one uses once intelligence sees through the falsity of the world, one seeks something beyond the world. Now, what can one understand about the nature of what exists beyond the world?
So, normally by our own logic, contemplations, and inference we cannot understand the personal aspect of the absolute. Because, that requires scriptural revelations. Off course, scriptural revelation confirmed by personal realization from within, which comes by adequate spiritual advancement, but still, the important point is that, there is a negative access over here, then there is a zero point, and, then there is a positive access.
When we are in the negative access, we cannot perceive the positive access. Negative access is the material form, material relationships, zero is the formlessness and the impersonal realization, and beyond that is the positive access, i.e. the positive form, the spiritual form, spiritual relationships, spiritual personality. So, that positive aside cannot be perceived by once own inference. For that, scriptural revelation is required, and even scriptural revelations have to be accompanied by the mercy of the devotees.
So, scriptural revelations help us to know about the personal aspect of the absolute truth. But, even with that knowledge, one may still find the impersonal aspect attractive. Why? Because, the difference is that, if one is not having a proper understanding, the spiritual can appear like the material. So, the form of the absolute truth can appear to be just like of this world, and one may think that, it is limited, this is space bound, probably temporary also. So, that goes to something beyond this.
What happens is, the person who has come across a false note, and once a person comes across a false note, the person starts thinking, ok this note I have to give up, and the person puts away the past (the false note). Now, if that person also comes to know about a true currency, then the person will choose a true currency. But, if the person is in a place where only false currency is been circulated, the person rejects the false currency. It is better to have no hallucination of wealth then to have hallucination of wealth in the form of this false currency. So that state is better.
Like that, a hope for pleasure in the material world is like the false currency. So, one gives it up, and one is intelligent to come to the zero level, and has nothing to do with the false currency of this world. And now, beyond that, one has to rise to one level higher, ok there is a true currency, and that true currency is the spiritual form, spiritual personality, and spiritual relationships.
In case if one doesn’t come to know about that because of not having connection with the scriptures, that is what happens in many religious traditions in the world, that in those traditions, the form of the Lord is not talked about for whatever reasons. Sometimes those religious traditions emerged at a reticularar time in history, when scriptures needed to be contextually rejected. Like it happened in Buddhism. Buddha did not talk about the form of the Lord; in fact he does not talk about GOD only too much, because, he came at time when animal killing and meet eating was going on extensively in the name of Vedic Dharma, and so to stop animal slaughter, he has to reject Vedas temporarily.
Now, without scriptures we cannot know about the personal form of the absolute truth. We can know about the impersonal aspect, because the impersonal aspect is primarily the negation of the negative of the world. We can see the negative in this world. We can see that, there are forms, the forms create desires, and the desires create actions, and the actions create miseries. This is the sequence.
So, now if I want to end miseries, what I have to do? I have to end actions which lead to miseries. If I have to stop the actions which lead to miseries, I have to give up the desires. And if I have to give up the desires, the thing would be, I have to reject the forms.
Now, this is a reasonable analysis, and actually it is an intelligent analysis, because most people think, oh no! If I just get more attractive forms, I get better sense objects, I will be able to enjoy. So those who are able to understand that, ok, these forms will never give me happiness, are intelligent.
But then, there is another dynamic. That dynamic is there is spiritual form, the all attractive supreme form, and that induces spiritual desires, and that indicates devotional actions, and that gives supreme devotional bliss. That progression is the ultimate aspiration, and is the higher spiritual protection. Those who do not know about it, they are naturally attracted to the concept of rejecting forms, negating that which causes misery, and considering that to be life’s ultimate perfection.
So, that’s why, the sages (they may be from different traditions saints) they can definitely have the characteristics of advanced spiritualists, because they know that, there is a higher truth beyond apparent pleasures of this material world, and they aspire for that. And because of not having scriptural revelation or in some cases some may have scriptural revelation also, but the personal aspect of the absolute truth may not appear attractive, because it appears just like the material forms. Only when one associates with devotee who has a deep, genuine, powerful attraction to the form of the Lord, the personal aspect of the Lord, then that, “Bhakti Sanjayate Bhakti” bhakti gets infused in to the heart of the seeker, and the seeker rises from, attraction to the impersonal aspect to the personal aspect.
When that association of devotees is not there, then one may not become attracted to the personal aspect. That’s why; one may desire merging in to the impersonal aspect, because (with that level of knowledge and that level of realization) is considered as the higher perfection of life.
Therefore, first of all, impersonal liberation is a lofty realization, and it has to be given due respect, and it also reflects advanced level of spiritual intelligence, by which one sees falsity of the pleasures of the world, and that is often more attractive to many spiritual seekers and even seers, because they may not had a scriptural tradition, which gives revelation of the personal aspect of the absolute truth, and even if there is revelation of the personal absolute truth, if one is not in the association of devotees, then one may still be attracted to the impersonal aspect and seek to merge in that.
Thank You. Hare Krishna
This article is further proof of your depth and correct understanding of Mahaprabhu’s philosophy of bheda and abheda. I wish this article can be extensively discussed to understand personalism and impersonalism, instead of merely criticising impersonalist without a proper understanding. Please continue with your wonderful service of watering the seed of Mahaprabhu’s philosohpy, planted by our earlier acharyas and Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you very much, Muralidhara P, for your insightful appreciation and profuse good wishes.