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It's all One & Two!


"It's all One" -- NOT!

A Vaishnava Response to Advaita Vedanta
By Steven J. Rosen (Satyaraja Dasa)

Most systems of Indian philosophy endorse the notion that, in some sense, all living beings are one with God. Some would say that spiritual philosophy in general – East and West – is based on the premise of oneness, suggesting an ontological unity for all that is. The reasoning is straightforward: Since everything emanates from God, and since God is absolute, then His emanations partake of His essential nature, even if they exist in temporary forgetfulness.* Thus, ultimate spiritual vision, according to this line of thought, breaks down all barriers and allows us to see the truth of our essential oneness with God.

But how far can one take this truth? Is it “ultimate reality,” or merely an aspect of reality, eclipsed by higher realizations marked by a transcendental form of dualism? This latter perspective is the view of most Vaishnavas, the devotees of God who claim that the dualities of the material world are indeed surpassed by the “oneness” propounded by Advaita Vedanta, as the above philosophical monism is technically called. But Vaishnavas go further, stating that to come full circle, spiritually, one must become aware of transcendental dualism – wherein a practitioner’s enhanced sense of oneness is exceeded by relationship with God. Implicitly, say the Vaishnavas, a relationship requires two, not one.

The key here is relationship. Logic, religion, and philosophy have no meaning without it. In fact, the things most precious to us – love, compassion, friendship – fall into oblivion if there is no relationship, if all is one. If we are all one, who is relating to whom? Human nature itself thus instigates the urge to understand the relation of substance and attribute, cause and effect, subject and predicate. We naturally want to know God’s relationship to the world, to other individuals. Vaishnava Vedanta supplies satisfying answers to these questions; Advaita Vedanta does not. This is because relationship presupposes two entities that interact – Advaita Vedanta presupposes no “other,” no entity with whom one might enter relationship. In other words, to interact, two entities must be different, even if they are, in some abstract sense, one.

By the same token, however, total otherness also precludes relationship. If we disregard the essential oneness that exists between each of us -- and with God -- we are destined to extreme isolation. Differences are important but should not be overemphasized. There exists a genetic and spiritual bonding between all living beings as children of God. There is also a fundamental connection between all living beings and the rest of the visible world, which is also an emanation of the Divine. Thus, the concept of “difference,” while revealing truths that are absent in Advaita Vedanta, should not be taken too far either, for it too has limitations.

Unity in Diversity
Clearly, then, spiritual philosophy reaches its most complete form in the acintya-bhedabheda school of Sri Chaitanya (1486–1533), which is considered the cap on the Vaishnava tradition, for here we see both monism and dualism fully actualized as complementary aspects of the same truth. The phrase acintya-bhedabheda means “the inconceivable oneness and difference between God and the living being.” It encompasses both the essential truths of Advaita Vedanta as well as the sense of “difference” found in earlier Vaishnava traditions.

Here we see the idea of the “unity of opposites” in its most developed form. Mature religious understanding, Sri Caitanya argues, is a constant dialogue between One and Zero, form and formlessness, feasting and fasting, yes and no – seeing harmony in the obvious differences of diametrically opposed phenomena. And yet “harmony” presupposes an interaction of different elements working together. In India, this has been analyzed as the paradox of the One and the Many – a paradox that has been resolved by monists in one way, as we have seen, and by Vaishnavas in quite another.

In the West, we tend to think about the One and the Many by looking at the phrase “E Pluribus Unum,” which was a motto that originally meant “out of many colonies, one nation.” Eventually, the phrase grew to encompass ethnic and European national dimensions: “out of many peoples, one people.” Indic traditions, however, goes further, using the principle to expound on religious pluralism, for it recognizes the great variety of human perceptions in relation to God. All of this is implied by the Rig Vedic verse, “Truth is one, though the wise refer to it by various names.”

Western mystics have also taken E Pluribus Unum in more metaphysical directions, even to the point of unity among opposites, i.e., among the One and the Many. “The fundamental law of the universe,” it is said, “is the law of the unity of opposites.”

The idea is usually traced to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus and, later, it is again seen in Plato’s Symposium. Even in logic, the Greek writers tell us, the unity of opposites is a way of understanding something in its entirety. Instead of just taking one aspect or one part of a given phenomenon, seeing something in terms of a unity of opposites is recognizing the complete dialectical composition of that thing. Because everything has its opposite, to fully understand it one must not only understand its present form and its opposite form, but the unity of those two forms, or what they mean in relation to each other.

All of this is implied in Sri Chaitanya’s idea of acintya-bhedabheda, the inconceivable oneness and difference between God and the living being. The simple yet profound philosophy at its base is explained as follows: Living beings are one with God and yet also different from Him in the same way that a drop of water, chemically analyzed, is one with an ocean but simultaneously different from it. That is to say, a drop of water may be one with an ocean in terms of quality, but it is different in terms of quantity. So, too, is the living being one and different from God in these same ways.

God, by definition, has all auspicious qualities in full: He is a virtual storehouse of strength, beauty, wealth, fame, knowledge, and renunciation. Ordinary living beings might have these qualities as well, but only in minute proportions. Again, quality but not quantity. Thus, India’s Vaishnava sages teach that our oneness with God has certain limitations, and while a fledgling practitioner would do well to realize his or her oneness with all that exists, i.e., with God, it behooves them to reach for the culmination of the spiritual pursuit, wherein they go beyond this sense of spiritual oneness and situate themselves in a loving relationship with the Lord, the reservoir of all transcendental qualities.

The Teachings of Sankara
The person responsible for popularizing Advaita Vedanta – to the exclusion of Vaishnava Vedanta -- was known as Sankaracarya (ninth century C.E.), whose “non-dual” philosophy had roots in the Upanishads. He taught that absolute monism is the highest truth, and that Brahman, as the Divine was known in the Vedas, is ultimately impersonal, with incarnations and avataras as lesser manifestations. He also taught that the world is an illusion (maya) created by an all-pervasive ignorance (avidya), and that when this ignorance is dispelled, one realizes one’s inherent divinity or identity with the Supreme. Although there has been some heated discussion about what Sankara actually taught, the above is clearly the essence of his teaching.

A famous quote from his very own work, the Vivekacudamani, succinctly summarizes his philosophy: Brahma satyaṃ jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah —Brahman is the only truth, the world is unreal, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual self. Noted scholar Georg Feuerstein summarizes the Advaita realization as follows: “The manifold universe is, in truth, a Single Reality. There is only one Great Being, which the sages call Brahman, in which all the countless forms of existence reside. That Great Being is utter Consciousness, and It is the very Essence, or Self (Atman) of all beings.” Impersonal God, complete oneness, all relationship is illusion. Though admittedly simplified, this is a summary of Sankara’s beliefs, making it clear why Vaishnavas came to see his doctrine as anathema. Vaishnavas look not so much for fusion but rather communion with the Divine.

Indeed, Vaishnava schools of thought were formalized as a response to Sankara: Ramanuja’s Visistadvaita (“Qualified Nondualism”), Madhva’s Dvaita (“Dualism”), Vallabha’s Suddhadvaita (“Pure Nondualism”), among others. These even have the “advaita” nomenclature as part of their official titles, but even the other Vaishnava schools, without such obvious titles, were clearly reactions to Sankara. He had touched a nerve, depersonalizing the cherished God whom Vaishnavas had come to know and love. His clinical, philosophical stance had become offensive to devotional hearts.

To be fair, Sankara acknowledges both personal and impersonal features of the Supreme. In his work, he describes two levels of Brahman: saguna (“with qualities”) and nirguna (“without qualities”). The saguna Absolute is a personal God, with attributes and characteristics, whereas the nirguna Absolute is without qualities and impersonal. Vaishnavas also acknowledge both dimensions of the Supreme. The difference here is that Sankara gives priority to the impersonal aspect, claiming it is the source of God and His manifold incarnations. Vaishnavas debate this claim with scripture and logic.

Sankara’s position might also be questioned in terms of the three levels of God-realization: Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Brahman is considered the rudimentary level, wherein one realizes the truths of Advaita Vedanta and the glory of merging into an impersonal Absolute; it is said to give practitioners a sense of eternality. Paramatma is realization of a more localized aspect of God – evoking a type of panentheism in which God exists within and in between every atom; it affords practitioners a sense of eternality and divine knowledge as well.

Finally, Bhagavan realization is considered the zenith of spiritual attainment, wherein one develops a loving relationship with God; here one achieves inner awareness of both eternality and knowledge, as in Brahman and Paramatma, and a profound sense of bliss, too. These levels of God-realization are depicted as hierarchical, with progressively greater dimensions of insight accruing for practitioners of each. Additionally, as one graduates from Brahman to Paramatma to Bhagavan, one finds that each level contains or encompasses the prior one, so that the third and final level, Bhagavan realization, is the most comprehensive of the three.

Generally, these three successive platforms of realization correspond to India’s three major paths: Jnana-marga (“The Path of Knowledge”), which brings one to Brahman; Karma-marga (“The Path of Work”), leading to realization of Paramatma; and Bhakti-marga (“The Path of Devotion”), which establishes devotees in loving relationship to the Supreme Person, Bhagavan. In Western philosophy, we might refer to these as cognitive, conative, and affective ways of being, respectively.

To expand on this correlation, consider the following: There are basically three sets of relations between consciousness and its content – thinking, willing, and feeling (again, cognitive, conative, and affective). “Thinking” is abstract, removed – witness the austere meditator, indifferent to the world around him. “Willing” is the urge to act, to “make manifest,” to use the body in its most appropriate way for the best possible action. But “feeling” surpasses all the rest. The heart envelops our actions and our thoughts, making us whole as human beings. One can utilize one’s ability to think and act, but if done without feeling, aren’t we merely automata?

The sages of ancient India have thus analyzed these three functions as a detailed science, developing them into spiritual practices known as Jnana-marga, Karma-marga, and Bhakti-marga. Shrivatsa Goswami, a contemporary Vaishnava scholar, puts it like this:

[inset quote]
If one’s point of departure is cognitive or indifferent, the Ultimate Reality of the absolute is undifferentiated consciousness. The cognitive path is recognized by the Advaita Vedanta of Shankara, where we are Ultimate Reality, Brahman. If one’s approach is conative, then the end to be attained subjectively is Paramatma, the supreme innermost being of all beings. . . . But if one’s approach is affective, reality becomes manifest in the fullest form of all, as Bhagavan, the Supreme Godhead.
[end inset]

Thus, Vaishnavas argue that the notion of oneness with God is only preliminary, subservient to Paramatma and Bhagavan realization, and that, ultimately, one must realize the virtue of devotion to the personal Godhead. In the words of Srila Madhvacarya (1118-1238 CE), one of the world’s most renowned Vaishnavas:

The Supreme Person is the foundation upon which everything rests. O individual spirit-soul, you are simply a reflection of that Godhead. Only one moon shines in the sky, although innumerable reflections of that moon may appear in the water or in other places. O individual spirit soul, the Supreme Person is like that single, original moon, and the individual spirit souls are like innumerable reflections of Him. Just as the reflections remain always distinct from the moon itself, in the same way the individual spirit souls remain eternally different from their original source, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. O individual spirit soul, this is the eternal distinction between you and the Supreme. [Sri Tattva-muktavali, Text 12]
[end inset]

Therefore, Vaishnavas live according to the following dictum: “I want to taste sugar; I don't want to be sugar.”

In fact, complete monism, or Advaita Vedanta -- taken to its logical limits -- would be the end of the entire spiritual quest as we know it. For how can one worship oneself? If one is, in the ultimate sense, God, there is no need for submission to a superior spirit. There is no I and Thou, no relationship, no love. Believers in Advaita Vedanta might call this mystical exaltation or a higher sort of divine union, but, looked at objectively, it is simply unabashed egotism, the ultimate illusion – the desire to be God.

*This forgetfulness, of course, is the first philosophical problem in Advaita Vedanta. If Brahman is Ultimate reality, and if it is One without a second, how does one account for illusion (maya) and ignorance (avidya), which suggests duality in Brahman. Advaitins are void of an answer.

It's All One, Part 2: Does God Lack Personality?

A major publisher recently approached me to write a book that would compare the over 500 existing English translations of the Bhagavad Gita, a major spiritual text for much of what is today called Hinduism. I told them I would consider their offer, and within a week I received at my door, special delivery, a box full of the decade’s most prominent Gita translations. Looking through each one carefully, I was surprised that the majority of translators misunderstood the basic teaching of this seminal text -- that God is a person, Krishna, and that the goal of life is to develop love for Him. Instead, these "Gitas" claimed that God is an abstract force, an impersonal entity that lies beyond the purview of the senses -- the commentators squeezed this out of the Sanskrit itself and often made it the focus of their analyses.

To be sure, Vaishnava stalwarts had many times written that nondevotees tend to misunderstand Lord Krishna’s words. The sacred text, according to Vaishnavas, must be understood from the lips of a pure devotee and by engaging in devotional service under his or her direction. Otherwise, if one is pursuing the Gita in terms of mere scholarship – or even for the purposes of realizing Brahman or Paramatma – its ultimate conclusion, in terms of Bhagavan realization, will remain far, far away. It should be clear: The impersonal or monistic conception of the Supreme -- wherein one envisions God as an inconceivable force, without form -- is a legitimate part of what the Bhagavad Gita teaches. But it is only a part, and it is eclipsed by the idea of God as the Supreme Person. As Krishna Himself says in the Gita, “Uninformed people, who do not know Me perfectly, think that I, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, was impersonal before and have now assumed this personality. Due to their poor fund of knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is imperishable and supreme. (7.24)

And yet, despite the Gita’s emphasis on God’s personhood, its impersonalistic dimension has become more popular. There are many reasons why this might be so. Teachers in the Vaishnava tradition suggest that the desire to depersonalize God comes, on a subliminal level, from the desire to avoid surrender: After all, if God is a person, then questions of submission and subservience come into play. If He is a formless abstraction, we can philosophize about Him without a sense of commitment, without the fear of having to acknowledge our duty to a higher being. Then again, maybe the popularity of the impersonal conception, at least in relation to the Gita, can be traced to inadequate knowledge of Sanskrit. Plain and simple.

After all, impersonalism – as an ultimate reality -- really doesn’t even make sense. Think about it: Form is everywhere, from mountain to snowflake. Everything has form. Even when things are invisible, they have shape. Consider the atom: Though we don’t see it, we know it occupies definite space and, with the proper equipment, it can be perceived. Deep down, we know that, in this world, a thing and its form are inseparable.

And this, of course, is where impersonalism comes in. If everything in this world has form, everything in “that” world must be formless, for matter and spirit are seen as diametrically opposed. While the premise here may be true, the conclusion is all but logical. Rather, it is like the conditioned thinking of a cow, who runs from a burning barn. If a barn catches fire, the cows running for their lives will naturally be afraid, and it is likely that whenever they subsequently see red, or something resembling fire, they will fear another blaze. Similarly, everyone in this world knows that material forms are temporary and limited -- even the greatest of forms, like planets, deteriorate and eventually disappear, nothing escaping impermanence. This truth is embedded in our consciousness, and we naturally (if sometimes subliminally) apply it to all form -- never imagining that spiritual form may have different characteristics altogether. We consequently foist formlessness on God and on all spiritual phenomena, following Sankara like a cow running from a burning barn.

If one studies the Gita as an aspiring devotee of God, however, it becomes clear that it is the person Krishna, also known as Bhagavan (the Lord), who reigns Supreme. It is service to Him that is emphasized in nearly every verse. Again, the Gita itself supports the personalistic doctrine: Krishna says, “I am at the basis of the impersonal Brahman [i.e., the formless Absolute].” (14.27) And, when discussing the comparative value of the impersonal and the personal, He says, “Those who focus their minds on My personal form, always engaged in worshiping Me with intense spiritual faith, are considered by Me to be most perfect.” (12.2) In other words, the conception of God as a person, to Whom one may become devoted, is prior and superior to the conception of God as an impersonal force, into which one may merge. At least according to the Gita.

And what exactly does “merging” mean, anyway? Vaishnavas, worshipers of Krishna, shun this idea of becoming “one with God,” saying it is almost as abominable as gross materialism. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Bhagavad Gita, says that it is motivated by fear. In his Gita commentary (4.10) he writes:

It is difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Generally, people who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body that is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme. Consequently, they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. And because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void.
[end inset]

So just as impersonalism stems from the fear that one will have to submit to a higher entity, as stated earlier, we now see that its concomitant “merging” is also a product of fear -- the fear that one’s individual existence, with all its imperfections, will continue into eternity. But Vaishnavas promote a philosophy of fearlessness, for they know that spiritual personality is not beleaguered by the limitations of matter. There are scholars who are wise to this, too. For example, Professor Huston Smith, a prominent author and teacher in the field of comparative religion, eloquently expresses the distaste that Vaishnavas have for merging with the Supreme. He does this with the help of a traditional bhakti poem written in Medieval India:

As healthy love is out-going, the bhakta [devotee] will reject all suggestions that the God one loves is oneself, even one’s deepest Self, and insist on God’s otherness. As a . . . devotional classic puts the point, “I want to taste sugar; I don’t want to be sugar.”

Can water quaff itself?
Can trees taste of the fruit they bear?
He who worships God must stand distinct from Him,
So only shall he know the joyful love of God;
For if he say that God and he are one,
That joy, that love, shall vanish instantly away.

Pray no more for utter oneness with God:
Where were the beauty if jewel and setting were one?
The heat and the shade are two,
If not, where were the comfort of shade?
Mother and child are two,
If not, where were the love?
When after being sundered, they meet,
What joy do they feel, the mother and child!
Where were joy, if the two were one?
Pray, then, no more for utter oneness with God. -- poem by Tukaram
[end inset]

But is God Really A Person?
Seeing the many impersonal translations and commentaries really got my ire. I decided to find arguments supporting the idea that God is indeed a person, for if I were to make a comparative study of existing Gita translations, as I was asked to do, I would want to emphasize the conclusion of the great masters. I would, as a student of Vaishnavism, want to follow the lead of Vaishnava luminaries and present Bhagavad Gita as it is -- showing that God is, first and foremost, a person. As It Is, in fact, is the name of Prabhupada’s translation and commentary, which gives a lot of ammunition for the argument of personalism.

Prabhupada is clear about the primacy of personalism in his own Gita commentary, incredulous that anyone could accept the impersonal idea of the Absolute:

[inset quote]
We cannot understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead could be impersonal; the imposition theory of the impersonalist monist is false as far as the statements of the Gita are concerned. It is clear herein that the Supreme Absolute Truth, Lord Krsna, has both form and personality. (7.24, purport)
[end inset]

When Prabhupada mentions the “imposition theory,” he refers to a particular group of impersonalists who claim that God’s impersonal feature is superior to His form. This group further says that God’s form is an “artificial imposition” created by the illusory energy. However, they don’t explain why or how God’s energy, which is subservient to Him, is able to obscure His form, nor are they able to reconcile their position with scriptural statements.

This personalistic view is not only supported by scripture but also sometimes by modern scientists. Though I have now come across many such statements, here is a particularly powerful one by Dr. John C. Cotran, who, before he retired, was Professor of Chemistry and the Chairman of the Science and Mathematics Division at the University of Minnesota. He was known for his penetrating logical abilities and insightful perceptions:

Chemistry discloses that matter is ceasing to exist, some varieties exceedingly slowly, others exceedingly swiftly. Therefore, the existence of matter is not eternal. Consequently, matter must have had a beginning. Evidence from Chemistry and other sciences indicates that this beginning was not slow and gradual; on the contrary, it was sudden, and the evidence even indicates the approximate time when it occurred. Thus at some rather definite time the material world was created and ever since has been obeying law, not the dictates of chance. Now, the material realm not being able to create itself and its governing laws, the act of creation must have been performed by some nonmaterial agent. The stupendous marvels accomplished in that act show that this agent must possess superlative intelligence, an attribute of mind. But to bring mind into action in the material realm as, for example, in the practice of medicine and the field of parapsychology, the exercise of will is required, and this can be exerted only by a person. Hence our logical and inescapable conclusion is not only that creation occurred but that it was brought about according to the plan and will of a person endowed with supreme intelligence and knowledge (omniscience), and the power to bring it about and keep it running according to plan (omnipotence) always and everywhere throughout the universe (omnipresence). That is to say, we accept unhesitatingly the fact of the existence of “the supreme spiritual being, God, the creator and director of the universe.”
[end inset]

Seems obvious. And this is what Vaishnava teachers have been saying for millennia. But -- with due respect to Dr. Cotran -- for those who have a personal relationship with the Lord, like Prabhupada and other great devotees, it is not some removed philosophical outlook. Vaishnava devotees feel personally offended when their beautiful Lord is described as having no eyes, no mouth, no hair, no form, and, as a result, no love. To deny God these distinct personal characteristics, they say, is the height of arrogance. Do humans have something that God does not? Would this not make us greater than Him? Especially when it comes to loving exchange. We can love, but God cannot? To say God is unlimited and then to say that He cannot have a form is contradictory. If He is unlimited, He can do whatever He likes. And if loving exchange is the highest activity, as most will admit, then God would most definitely deign to be a person -- for loving exchange loses meaning without personhood; it can only exist between people.

Ultimately, Vaishnava philosophy says that all conceptions of God are included in the personal form of Sri Krishna. The impersonal Brahman, according to the tenets of Vaisnavism, is but an aspect of the Absolute, which by its very nature is endlessly qualified and perfect in unlimited ways. The concept of the Absolute as merely impersonal, beyond all thought and speech, is dismissed by Vaishnavas as meaningless and absurd. Such an Absolute cannot stand, for it would cancel itself out. Our very language disallows it: even to say that Brahman is inexpressible or unthinkable is to say or think something about it. This is the argument that Jiva Gosvami [a great Vaishnava teacher and commentator] poses in his classic work, Sarva-samvadini, and it is certainly a powerful one. He points out that the whole proposition of Brahman as an independent Absolute, without being counterbalanced by a Personal Absolute, is full of inherent contradictions.

Jiva Goswami cites the teachings of Sankaracarya, the ninth-century philosopher mentioned above, who was among the first to emphasize the impersonal Absolute. Having accepted the undifferentiated Brahman as the sole category of existence, Sankara fails to give a satisfactory explanation of the world of appearance, which necessarily implies qualities (visesa) in Brahman. In other words, how can a variegated world, with such diverse attributes, come from an undifferentiated Absolute? There is something unnatural about it. In India, impersonalist philosophers say that all variety in the material world is false, and that only the Supreme Brahman, or Spirit, is real. But if Brahman is real, as they say, how can the world and its varieties, which they admit emanate from Brahman, be false? If Brahman is real, its emanations must be real. For example, if a tree bears many fruits, can anyone realistically claim that the tree is real but its fruits are not? No. Brahman is real and so are the variegated emanations that come from it.

Clearly, it's not just the followers of Sankara who are given to this impersonalistic madness. Such via negativa philosophy is commonly identified with the Buddhistic thought of Nagarjuna as well. And philosophers in the west haven't been immune, either: impersonalism is seen in Jewish thinkers, such as Maimonides, and in the Christian mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius and Meister Eckhart, among others. It’s being carried on today by Matthew Fox, and even Fritjof Capra and Gary Zukav, to name a few.

Ultimately, however, the Absolute is positive, and since nothing positive is without attributes, the absolute must embody divine qualities (savisesa). Not only must it be determined by certain qualities or attributes, but just because it is infinite, it must be determined or qualified in endless ways. There should be nothing in which it is wanting. If there is anything that in some form does not belong to it, then in so far as it is lacking in that, it is imperfect and cannot, properly speaking, be called Absolute. This means that the absolute must be personal, beginningless, and the origin or the ground of everything else. Thus, the notion of personality is not only consistent with the infinite Godhead but essential to it. As if to sum up, the Brahma-samhita (5.1), one of India’s most ancient religious texts, says: “ishvarah paramah krishnah, sat-chid-ananda-vigrahah, anadir adir govindah, sarva-karana-karanam -- Krishna, or Govinda, the Supreme Godhead, who has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body, is the prime cause of all causes.”

But even without scripture, if we think about it, the whole impersonalistic enterprise just doesn't make sense: I’m a person. If my source is impersonal, then where do I come from and what am I in an ultimate sense? If my source is impersonal, how can I, a person, relate to it? Moreover, even if some kind of impersonal experience exists, such an experience always occurs to a person -- it’s you and I, people, who have the “impersonal” exchange with God! In other words, even if you call it “impersonal,” because it happens to a person it must be considered a variety of personal experience.

Impersonalistic philosophers, however, argue that a qualified and personal Absolute must be limited, because to attribute certain qualities to it is to deny certain others, which are opposed to them. But impersonalists must understand that it is not personification or attribution of character or qualities to the infinite that puts limitation upon it, but it’s these things not carried to their fullest extent. Chandogya Upanishad (7.14.4) describes Brahman as sarva-karma sarvakamah sarvagandhah sarvarasah, which indicates that Brahman is not only endowed with characteristics, but that it displays such characteristics in endless ways. The Vedic texts frequently describe Brahman as vijnana-ghana and ananda-ghana as in verse seventy-nine of the Gopala Tapani Upanishad. In texts such as this, the word “ghana” implies that Brahman is knowledge (vijnana) and bliss (ananda) personified. There are innumerable other verses that support this view.

Thus, Sri Caitanya (1486-1533), the incarnation of Krishna who appeared in Bengal, India, some five centuries ago, argued that the impersonalistic view of unqualified Brahman is based mainly on the indirect meaning of Sanskrit words. The argument is elaborate, but to summarize: The indirect meaning of words (lakshana vritti) is justified only where the direct meaning (mukhya vritti) does not make any sense. Sankara’s exclusive emphasis on unqualified Brahman makes him conceal the direct and real meaning of the scriptures, which more often than not describes Brahman as qualified.

Srila Madhvacarya, one of the original systematizers of the Vaishnava tradition, quoted above, gives an example of how Mayavadi philosophers (as a particular school of impersonalists in India are known) conceal the direct meaning of Sanskrit words:

[inset quote]
The Mayavadi commentator on the Vedanta claimed that the words tat tvam asi are among the most important statements in the Vedas. And according to his explanation, tat means “the Suprme,” tvam means “you,” and asi means “are.” He therefore interpreted the phrase to mean “You are the Supreme,” and he claimed that there is no difference between the Supreme and the individual spirit soul.

The Vaishnava commentator interpreted these words in a different way, saying that tat-tvam is a possessive compound word. According to his explanation, tat means “of the Supreme,” and the entire phrase means, “You are the servant of the Supreme.” In this way, the proper meaning was revealed by Vaisnava commentators. (Madhvacarya, Tattva-muktavali, Text 6)
[end inset]

Madhva further argues that the Puranas unambiguously describe how the entire universe came into existence from a lotus that sprouted from the Lord’s navel. This leads him to a natural question: Are we then to conclude that the Supreme has only a disembodied navel and not a complete body? If the Supreme Lord has a navel, he says, then He must also have a body, complete with limbs and senses -- though they are not like our limbs and senses. (See Sri Tattva-muktavali, text 45) As outlandish as this argument might appear, it nonetheless carries weight for those who accept Puranic stories as divine revelation. Since both Vaishnavas and Advaitins give them such credence, the disembodied lotus polemic is more sensible than it might sound. Further, it might additionally be argued that Vishnu and His lotus-bearing navel are to be seen as merely metaphorical – but the Puranas are quite clear that the story be taken literally, and Vaishnava sages from the earliest epochs of history have understood it in this way.

One wonders, therefore, how impersonalists, especially those who follow Vedic texts, can make any case at all for a formless Absolute. To be fair to them, then, it must be admitted that there are also many texts that describe Brahman as unqualified. Katha Upanisad (1.3.15), for example, describes Brahman as asabdam, asparsam, and arupam, which means that Brahman has neither sound, nor touch, nor form. This idea is echoed in the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad (1.4.10), wherein Brahman is described as achakshushkam, asrotram, avak, amanah, etc., meaning that Brahman has neither eyes, nor ears, nor speech, nor mouth, nor mind.

Jiva Gosvami partly resolves the issue by showing that the word “nirvisesa (without qualities),” for example, is often used by the scriptures to deny all prakrita, or “material,” qualities of Brahman and not to deny qualities as such. If it were used to deny qualities as such it would not be possible to attribute to Brahman the qualities of nityatva (eternity) and vibhutva (all-pervasiveness), which are accepted by even the followers of Sankara themselves as undeniable qualities of the Absolute. Jiva Gosvami also quotes from the Vishnu Purana to prove that although Brahman does not have any ordinary or material qualities, it has infinite transcendental qualities.

Thus, Brahman, or God, cannot be described as merely unqualified. Jiva Gosvami writes that such a “Brahman” is like the subject of predication apart from its predicates, or the substance apart from its attributes. Since the complete (samyak) form of an object includes both its substance and attributes, the unqualified Brahman is only an incomplete (asamyak) manifestation of the Absolute. Jiva Gosvami insists that the personal Brahman includes the impersonal Brahman as the formless lustre of his divine form (anga-kanti). In Prabhupada’s words, the impersonal Brahman is merely Krishna’s effulgence.

Implicit in these arguments is the understanding that God is inconceivable, and that He is, ultimately, both personal and impersonal. It is further understood, as stated, that His impersonal aspect is dependent upon His personal form, which is prior. The arguments are logical enough, and yet our minds revolt against the idea of an Absolute being at once personal and impersonal. We want to choose one or the other. This is because we are inclined to think of the Absolute in human terms. For this reason, it must be reiterated that the form of the Absolute is different from our own. We have to be careful not to limit the infinite with our human thoughts and terms, which would be the fallacy that impersonalists attribute to the doctrine of a personal God. When dealing with any problem relating to the infinite, we have to use the laws of our understanding with reservation and with necessary caution, not allowing them to impair the perfection of the infinite or impoverish our notion of divinity.

Henry L. Mansel, a nineteenth-century English philosopher, who was Professor of Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy at Oxford, expressed the same idea in this way:

[inset] It is our duty, then, to think of God as personal; and it is our duty to believe that He is infinite. It is true that we cannot reconcile these two representations with each other, as our conception of personality involves attributes apparently contradictory to the notion of infinity. But it does not follow that this contradiction exists anywhere but in our own minds; it does not follow that it implies any impossibility in the absolute nature of God. The apparent contradiction, in this case, as in those previously noticed, is the necessary consequence of an attempt on the part of the human thinker to transcend the boundaries of his own consciousness. It proves that there are limits to man’s power of thought, and it proves no more. [end inset]

To describe the Absolute as merely nirvisesa, or without quality and attributes, is to make Him imperfect by amputating, as it were, the auspicious limbs of His divine personality. Once the absolute, complete, and perfect nature of the Divine Being is recognized, the philosophy of impersonalism cannot consistently be maintained. The scriptures clearly describe the Absolute as both personal and impersonal, or rather as possessing infinite attributes and forms, including an impersonal dimension. When this is properly understood, the conflicting statements of the Vedas and the Puranas can easily be reconciled. But according to the primary and general sense of the scriptures, the Absolute is essentially personal, because only in a personal Absolute, possessing infinite and inconceivable potencies, can the infinite forms of Godhead, including the impersonal Brahman, have their place.

In fact, complete monism, or Advaita Vedanta, would be the end of the entire spiritual quest as we know it – for how can one worship oneself? If one is, in the ultimate sense, God, there is no need for submission to a superior spirit. There is no I and Thou, no relationship, no love. Believers in Advaita Vedanta might call this mystical exaltation or a higher sort of divine union, but, looked at objectively, it is simply unabashed egotism, the ultimate illusion – the desire to be God.

Will I write the requested book about the many existing editions of the Gita? Probably not. Srila Prabhupada’s Gita is clear enough about what the Gita teaches and includes the best of all the versions I looked through. In terms of scholarship, clarity, accessibility, and design, none of the other Gitas come close. So I may just have to send all those books back to that publisher. But if they would like me to do a book on personalism versus impersonalism, I might just go for it. Nothing personal, of course.

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God: Person or Energy?

From The Journey Home, by Radhanath Swami

For some time, I had been troubled by a fundamental philosophicaldispute over whether God was ultimately impersonal or personal. On theone hand, I had heard some yogis and philosophers profess thatultimately God is impersonal and formless, but that he accepts atemporary material form as an avatara when He descends into theworld for the benefit of all beings. After accomplishing His mission, Heagain merges into His formless existence. All form and personality,according to the impersonalists, is a nonpermanent product of materialillusion. In the final state of liberation, the soul sheds its temporaryidentity and becomes one with God, merging into the all-pervadingspiritual existence.
On the other hand, I had heard other yogis andphilosophers profess that God is the Supreme Person, that His spiritualform is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. At the time of liberation,the soul enters into the kingdom of God where it eternally serves theall-beautiful Personality of God in pure love.
I often pondered this apparent contradiction. How could they both be correct? God must ultimately be one or the other. Either He must be ultimately impersonal or personal.Out of respect for my beloved teachers, it had been difficult for me tothink that any of them were wrong. Some attacked the opposing point ofview while others refrained from argument by keeping the subject vague. Ifound that many spiritual teachings were similar until they came tothis point.
What is the goal I should aspire to? I wondered. Should I strive totranscend dualities to become one with an impersonal, formless God? Orshould I strive to purify my heart to serve a personal Lord withunconditional love in His eternal abode?
One afternoon, a guest asked Srila Prabhupada this very question. “IsGod formless and impersonal or does He have form and personality?” Thechattering of birds, screeching of monkeys, and honking of distantrickshaw horns were silenced by the anticipation in my heart. I sat upwith attention, eager to hear his answer. Srila Prabhupada slowly leanedforward, his face perfectly relaxed and full lips curved downward atthe edges. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, his elbows rested on thelow table in front of him and his hands were clasped together under hischin. With a grave gaze, he quoted from the Vedas and explained, “Wemust first understand the inconceivable nature of God. The Supreme Lordis simultaneously personal and impersonal. It is an eternal truth thatHe is both formless and that He has an eternal, blissful form.”
I felt a warm, peaceful sensation flood my chest. With one hand SrilaPrabhupada stretched his index finger upward. “The Lord’s impersonal,all-pervading energy is called Brahman. And Bhagavan isthe personal form of God, who is the energetic source and never underthe influence of illusion. Take for example the sun. The form of the sunas a planet and the formless sunlight can never be separated, as theyexist simultaneously. They are different aspects of the sun. Similarly,there are two different schools of transcendentalists who focus ondifferent aspects of the one truth. The impersonalists strive to attainliberation in the Lord’s impersonal, formless light, while thepersonalists strive for eternal loving service to the Lord’sall-attractive form. There is no contradiction.
“Similarly, the soul is part and parcel of the Lord, simultaneously onewith God and different from God. Qualitatively we are one with God,being eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss. But quantitatively,we are always but a part, just as the sunray is but a tiny part of thesun and yet has the same qualities as the sun. We are both one with Godand different from God. God is the independent controller, but when thesoul misuses his God-given independence, he forgets his relation to theLord and falls into illusion and subsequent suffering.”
Leaning back against the wall, he tilted his head slightly and gazeddirectly into my eyes. “The two schools, personalists andimpersonalists, both approach different aspects of the One God.” He wenton to explain how Krishna, His form, qualities, personality, and abodewere unlimited, and that all the true religions of the world worshippedthe same One God. He had simply revealed Himself in different ways atdifferent times.
How beautiful. With these simple and intelligent words, Srila Prabhupadahad harmonized two apparently opposing views. As I listened to him,tears of appreciation welled up in my eyes. Yes, now it all makes so much sense,I thought. A dilemma that had confused my progress was now completelyremoved. A spontaneous, joyous smile stretched across my face. SrilaPrabhupada reciprocated with a smile, too, one endowed with both wisdomand serenity.
One guest asked him, “Are you the guru of the world?”
Srila Prabhupada meekly bowed his head and cast his eyes toward the floor. “I am everybody’s servant,” he said. “That’s all.”
I found a special charm in this exchange. Srila Prabhupada was sounpretentious, so free and comfortable in all that he did and said. Irecalled the humility of dear Ganashyam, who had lived in a hallwayoutside a closet for fifty years. Srila Prabhupada was a learnedscholar, eloquent orator, and powerful yogi who had founded a worldwidesociety with thousands of followers. Dignitaries came to honor himdaily. Still, that natural spirit of humility was present—“I’m small.God is everything.” Paradoxically, that humility empowered him withunlimited confidence and determination.
After the meeting, I stood up and offered Srila Prabhupada a rose. Hesmelled it and graciously bowed his head. Departing from the house, Iwandered back to the Yamuna, elated. Prabhupada’s words had put thepuzzle of personalism and impersonalism together, piece-by-piece. And inso many other ways, he had impressed me deeply. But who is this amazing man? I wondered. What is he like as a person?

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Music: Reflecting Divinity

"I would only believe in a God that knows how to dance." -NietzscheI wish to express an experience/s I had with music, which played a role in bringing me to spirituality. I was awed by music, and began thinking about it philosophically...Where did it come from? How is it that certain orchestrations of sound waves produce pleasurable sensations, aural aesthetics? What is the sensation of sound? Who’s hearing it, obviously I am, but what am I? Aware, was all I knew.Many nights I spent dancing in front of giant speakers, small headphones, or with a home stereo system.One time on a car stereo streaming linear waves of sharp snares, drum loops and synthetic bass, I was as usual totally absorbed in it, meditating on its possible source. I wanted to be the speakers and express myself so eloquently. I wanted to BE the music! I wanted to SEE what the music was singing about! Somehow, aural patterns are able to CAPTURE something, a tiny fraction of something MUCH greater than itself. Something I felt through it. I would ask “Who are you?!” Sometimes I would cry. But hearing the music wasn’t enough... like licking the outside of a jar of honey. Dancing to music became a sort of worship, an attempt to connect with the source that gave linear sound-wave patterns their TASTE.These thoughts were going through my mind when the driver of the car slightly leaned towards me and spoke these words, “It doesn’t do it justice.”I almost couldn’t believe he’d said that. On one level he was likely referring to the quality of the cars sound system. But something within me heard differently, as if his higher self spoke through him at that moment to express how much deeper and beautiful than the music was the source it attempted to capture. (Such perception imbued me with humility. Regardless of an individual’s present state, their Higher Self is thoroughly connected to the Divine and can be spoken through at any time, in any way the Lord wishes, to give a wink, a nudge or a message.)Everyone can appreciate music, and its timeless 'source' exists for everyone. Spirituality is not something to attain but to REMEMBER. I believe all of us are on a path to that rememberance, but with varying degrees of directness.The following by Suhotra Swami sparked my remembrance of this. He gives voice to thoughts I have difficulty articulating, and takes it yet higher...Transcendental PersonalismChapter 2The Supreme PersonIt is possible, with a clarity that is breathtaking, for a human being to take a peek beyond the matrix of time-bound experience. I do not refer to an otherworldly vision that stuns life to a standstill. I mean an insight into something as simple as a sentence spoken by a friend. Such insight is readily at hand for those willing to perform the small miracle of perceiving how we perceive things. Philosophers call this apperception.The mind’s logical mechanism (anumāna) puts events into an order of before and after. We cannot logically assign now to an event that occurred a moment before, or to one that will occur a moment from now. To know beyond time events passing in time is beyond logic. Yet the meaning we perceive in events is beyond the time of their duration. This fact is so obvious that we usually miss it.When we “catch” in consciousness a melody or a spoken sentence, we do not separate the notes or words we hear at this moment from those we heard a moment before and those we shall hear a moment later. Vīṇāyai tu grahanena vīṇāvādasya vā śabdo gṛhitaḥ, it is said in the Upaniṣads: “the notes played on a vīṇā (an Indian musical instrument, similar to a sitar) are caught all together.” The melody—a vibrant, graceful form that emerges from somewhere within us—reveals itself as beauty that is at once beyond the momentary notes he plays. Another Upaniṣadic verse speaks of “that which is not revealed by speech, but that which reveals speech” (yad vācān abhyuditaṁ yena vāg abhudyate). When a person speaks a sentence to us, he has “a point” he wants us to understand. But catching his point is not an effort of catching the meaning of each word as he fires it from his mouth—like having to catch a rapid volley of tennis balls, each with one word inscribed on it—and mentally tying these meanings together. We catch the point of his sentence all at once, not in the logic of time (horology). His point is lit up by knowledge that emerges from within. But why knowledge emerges to make sense if his muddled speech (often even before he finishes speaking) cannot be known from what he is saying. This knowledge at once includes all his words and yet is separate from them.There are modern philosophers who consider the knowing of the beauty and meaning of experience—exemplified here by our “catching” a melody or an idea from events streaming by—to be “the real world in which consciousness itself is proper being”, or “the absolute separate from everything”. They say we unfortunately throw “a network of time” over that real world, this network being the mechanistic logic that blinds us to the way melodies and meaning are revealed to us out of time.The light of absolute knowledgeThe Mahājanas are Vedic authorities fully conversant with the absolute knowledge that stands separate from the fleeting impressions of matter. There are twelve Mahājanas; Brahmā is the Mahajana who assists the Supreme Person in His pastime of creating the universe. In Srimad-Bhagavatam he says the Lord is the avikriyam satyam, the unchanging truth, as opposed to the shifting "facts" of material existence. The unchanging truth is hidden within everyone's heart beyond mundane words and arguments, and cannot be defined by the mind. The Supreme Person is arthendriyabhasam, the inner light that illuminates the objects of perception that appear and disappear in time.Mahajana Rudra, who destroys the universe, explains that to understand anything, we require param jyoti, "the supreme light." This timeless light emanates from eka adyah purusa, "one original person" (Purusa) who, like the sun, stands behind a cloud of His ownmaking. This is the cloud of maya, the ever-changing material energy, which covers the clear sky of our consciousness. The effulgent Purusa illuminates that cloud, making sense of the sensations we experience under the influence of maya--sounds, feelings, forms, tastes and smells. Without His timeless light, there could be no experience of the swirling, temporal cloud of material energy. But that Purusa remains hidden to all except those whose hearts are amala, spotless. He is kevala, completely pure. Rudra informs us that this one original person is named Krsna.Another Mahajana, Kapiladeva, says that Lord Krsna is Bhagavan, the unlimited source of six opulences: knowledge, beauty, power, fame, richness and renunciation. As the Purusa, Bhagavan Sri Krsna resides within our hearts. Simultaneously He is external to us in His form of time (kala-rupena yo bahih).Thus Krsna is our inner power to know; and He is Time, which drives the functions of the mind, emotions, senses and sense objects. As the power to know illuminates these time-driven agents, we recognize opulences like jnana (knowledge) and sri (beauty) as they dawn on us in passing words and musical tones. These opulences give shape, depth, direction, meaning, potency, and attraction to our experience. Without them, all would be void.Consider now the opulence of bala (power). Looking at a mountain, I see data--an enormous mass of rock--registered by the eyes. This is bahya-pratyaksa, external perception. I am made aware of this data by the light of knowledge shining from the hidden core of the heart. That light likewise reveals an emotional mood--awe--that the mind associates with the physical form of the mountain. This is antara-pratyaksa, the inner perception of a psychological state. These sensory, mental and emotional functions accompany--but do not explain--the recognition of majestic power as I look at the mountain. Yes, the eyes register a mass of rock, and the mind responds to that data with awe and wonder--but between these two functions is a mystery. From whence does the recognition of power emerge?The answer is that it emerges from consciousness itself, just as beauty emerges from consciousness when we hear music, and knowledge emerges from consciousness when we hear a sentence. In his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.19.23, Srila Prabhupada explains that the individual soul shares to a lesser degree the six transcendental opulences of Bhagavan. But they are dimmed by a covering of the material energy, just as the sun is dimmed by a cover of cloud. As light is the medium that links our vision to the sun, so consciousness is the medium that links the soul and God. This is true whether the soul faces up to God or not. All that we know in life is the interface of individual consciousness with supreme consciousness. The time-bound matrix--the mechanism of mental, emotional, sensory and physical experience--is also a product of that interface, just as a cloud in the sky is a product of the sunlight interfacing with our vision. But it is an unwanted product, like static that disturbs our reception of a radio program. Catching a glimpse of the timeless opulence of knowledge and beauty through fleeting words and musical notes is like catching a glimpse of the sun through a passing cloud.The cloudy covering is an effect of our ignorance of the presence of God before us. As the sun is so much vaster in size than a cloud, so much greater is God than what is suggested of Him through our mind and senses. Our ignorance of His presence before us is the result of our insignificant perspective. Similarly, because we are so tiny, a small cloud covers our vision of the gigantic sun.There is no consciousness without co-consciousness, that which the individual soul shares with the Lord in the Heart. When in ignorance of co-consciousness, we get carried away by time-driven mental functions, what we "know" looks as if it comes from the mind. When in ignorance we get carried away by time-driven sensory functions, what we "know" looks as if it comes from the senses. But knowledge does not come from the mind and senses, no more than light comes from the cloud covering the sun. To a person in pure consciousness--whose knowledge is not obstructed by the cloud of maya--what he knows comes from God: His timeless knowledge, beauty, power, fame, richness and renunciation.s
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Simultaneous Oneness and Difference

I was asked by a friend to describe what achintya-bhedaabheda-tattva (inconceivable simultaneous dual/non-dualism) means. Here's my attempt to explain Vedic conclusions in my own words...

When analysing reality philosophically, there are 3 main conclusions people usually come to...
1. Nothing exists, ultimate reality is a void and what we experience here is totally illusory. We don't really exist.
2. Everything is One. Duality is illusory, in truth everything is homogenous with no distinctions.
3. Duality exists as an eternal principle of ultimate reality.

Most people think that since form and personality exist in the materialworld, they must not exist in the spiritual world. But an intelligentperson may realise that option 1 cannot be true, because here I amexisting... how does something come from nothing?
Number 2 is tricky. It sounds right, but... for the One to experienceseparation & distinction as we do, a 2nd factor necessarily needsto be involved. I'll explain: Oneness philosophers maintain that we'reall one, but a tiny particle of that Oneness (you & me) somehow oranother becomes covered by a 'cloud' of illusion that creates asubjective perspective of being separate from Source and distinct fromeach other. This philosophy sounds pretty cool and most people go forit. However, it's also flawed. The 'cloud' of illusion that createsseparation must be something OTHER than Oneness itself, because Onenesshas no defining qualities by which to create a sense of separation. Bydefinition Oneness has no distinctions, so there cannot be Oneness plusclouds. That would make it Two!
In fact, oneness cannot be aware that it exists (because if it did thenthere would be TWO things, itself and its awareness of itself), andOneness without awareness of itself doesn't exist, because who would bethere to percieve it? If it's not being percieved, for all intents andpurposes it doesn't exist. So in the end, Oneness philosophy ispractically the SAME as Nothing/Void philosophy.
None of this explains the fact that we obviously exist.
So, because we seem to be existing, duality as an aspect of absolute reality needs to be considered.
The Vedas state that the variegatedness and duality we experience inthe temporal material realm (including the etheric planes) is thereflection of a realm composed of similar items of absolute substantiality. A spiritual world.
Analogy: if you stand on the bank of a river and observe thereflection of a tree, one assumes the real thing exists independent ofthe reflection.
So the spiritual world, being the unconditioned and independent sourceof its reflection, matter, is described as a place of eternity, fullknowledge, bliss, form, activity & desire centred around Godhead,who's the whole & centre of everything whilst simultaneously anindependent personality.
The Sri Isopanisad explains: ThePersonality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He iscompletely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenalworld, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is producedof the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is theComplete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, Heremains the complete balance.
Godhead's energies, relationships, forms, qualities, pastimes andentourage are unlimitedly variagated. The material world fractionallyreflects and represents these eternal principles of the spiritualworld, our constitutional home, not a formless blinding white light.Non-duality DOES exist, but as a secondary (subjective) aspect ofDivinity. It's known as brahman and emanates from the Godhead, permeating everything.
Inreality there IS only 1 thing: REALITY! And that reality is composed ofduality: God & God's energies (including us and this world).
Below is a purport from the Sri Isopanisad to support these statements.

In the Bhagavad-gita (14.27), the Lord explains His personal rays (brahmajyoti), the dazzling effulgence of His personal form, in this way:
brahmaṇo hi pratiṣṭhāham
amṛtasyāvyayasya ca
śāśvatasya ca dharmasya
sukhasyaikāntikasya ca

"I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal,imperishable and eternal and is the constitutional position of ultimatehappiness."
Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are three aspects of the same AbsoluteTruth. Brahman is the aspect most easily perceived by the beginner;Paramātmā, the Supersoul, is realized by those who have furtherprogressed; and Bhagavān realization is the ultimate realization of theAbsolute Truth. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.7), where Lord Kṛṣṇa says that He is the ultimate concept of the Absolute Truth: mattaḥparataraḿ nānyat. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is the source of the brahmajyoti as well as the all-pervading Paramātmā. Later in the Bhagavad-gītā (10.42) Kṛṣṇa further explains:
atha vā bahunaitena
kiḿ jñātena tavārjuna
viṣṭabhyāham idaḿ kṛtsnam
ekāḿśena sthito jagat

"But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge?With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entireuniverse."
Thus by His one plenary expansion, the all-pervading Paramātmā, theLord maintains the complete material cosmic creation. He also maintainsall manifestations in the spiritual world. Therefore in thisśruti-mantra of Śrī Īśopaniṣad, the Lord is addressed as pūṣan, theultimate maintainer.
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Soul Psychology

"Know the self as a rider in a chariot,
and the body, as simply the chariot.
Know the intellect as the charioteer,
and the mind, as simply the reins.
The senses, they say, are the horses,
and sense objects are the paths around them....
When a man lacks understanding,
and his mind is never controlled;
His senses do not obey him,
as bad horses, a charioteer."


Recently a teacher of mine gave a seminar entitled 'Psychology of the Soul'.
I found it to be particularly succint and inspiring, maybe it's just because I like philosophy...
Here it is for your consideration!
Please bear in mind though that these are only notes upon which anextensive seminar was formed, and thus may not be complete inpresentation.

Text in [ ] brackets by me.

Section 1

EXISTENCE: The Vedic View

Life is comprised of five elements:

A) Existence
B) Consciousness
C) Emotion
D) Form
E) Activity

All are inter-dependent absolutes. In other words, each is essential,and without one the existence of the other has no real meaning.

The essential characteristic of existence is consciousness.

The essential characteristic of consciousness is emotion.

The essential characteristic of emotion is form.

The essential characteristic of form is activity.

Ultimately without activity, form, emotion and consciousness givingexpression to existence there can be no significant meaning toexistence.

What however, is the underlying impetus causing existence to expressitself through consciousness, emotion, form and activity? According tothe Vedic view the explanation lies in the fundamental truth that thevery nature of existence is that it is itself joyful. This concept isexpressed in the Vedic aphorism, anandamoya-bhyasat:that the absolute truth is by very nature joyful. This is the kernel oftruth lying at the very heart of every consequent explanation foreverything that consequently exists.

How so?

Because it is in the very nature of joy to delight in itself - and tothus wish for an increase of its own joy! And it is in order tofacilitate that urge for increase that existence consequently expandsinto ever fuller manifestations of itself, into consciousness, emotion,form and activity, just as a seed grows into a tree with branches,leaves, flowers and ultimately fruit.
Because the inherent nature of existence is joy, and because theinherent nature of joy is to wish for fullness, the Supreme AbsoluteTruth, in the never-ending pursuit of fullness, proceeds naturally toexpand itself - and to do so unlimitedly - into all the various aspectsof creation and into all the unlimited living entities and unlimitedphenomena that make up creation.

Section 2

PSYCHOLOGY: The Relationship between Consciousness and Activity

Psychology examines behaviour, or rather the relationship betweenconsciousness and activity. According to some psychology can only beeuphemistically described as a science because the frames of referenceused in describing behaviour are ultimately aribtrary. Unlike solidmatter, consciousness is fundamentally amorphous and cannot be brokendown into constituent elements of an absolute nature, or at least notinto elements universally agreed upon as being absolute.

In simple terms consciousness is the basic expression of existence andconsequently the basic cause of activity. In Western traditionDescartes also concluded that the basic proof of existence wasconsciousness, or as he put it, thought: cogito ergo sum.

As the basis of action, the study of thought is felt to be the key tounderstanding why we do what we do. When what we do is percieved byourselves or others as wrong, or bad, or conducive to some undesirableresult, and thus a problem (for us and perhaps others) then the linkbetween consciousness (thought) and action needs to be examined.

A fundamental aspect of the science of yoga also is the study between existence, consciousness and activity.

The gross aspects of our physicality are considered to be made up of 5 "elements": earth, water, fire, air and ether.

The subtle aspects of our consciousness are said to be made up of 3 "elements": mind, intelligence and false ego (as opposed to the true ego of the soul proper).

These three subtle elements are essentially grouped as one in both theWestern and Eastern thought under the broad heading of consciousness.Their specific essences are distinguished by seeming function.

Ego literally means sense of identity.

False ego means a sense of identity that is differentfrom what yoga science considers the original eternal identity of theself, or soul proper. False identity, or false ego, arises as a resultof the souls contact, association, and identification with matter, orthe stuff making up our present minds and bodies. The fundamentalfalsity of our present identity is rooted in the never-endingchangeability that results from the fluctuating and temporary nature ofmatter and material forms.

Intelligence is that aspect of consciousness we use for discrimination, to conclude things, and therefore to make decisions.

Mind is comprised of the facility to think, feel and will.

Section 3

MIND, the Seat of Consciousness

The behaviour of living beings, generally speaking, is dominated byperception and feeling. In other words, how we see things and how wefeel about what we see. This is the domain of what yoga science calls"mind". It can be analysed as follows:

Thinking: the ability to concieve, conceptualise or contemplate an object or experience.

Feeling: the emotional response, either positive, neutral or negative that follows on, resonates and flows from such thinking.

Willing: the consequence of our emotional reaction that causes us to desire, want or wish for (or not desire, want or wish for), a certain object or experience. What follows on from willing is some kind of activity or action carried out (generally) by the senses of the gross physical body.

These three facilities of thinking, feeling and willing are the constituent ingredients of what we call mind. This mind represents the pivotal point of consciousness, which itself is the pivotal point between existence and activity.Studying and understanding the mind therefore, the very seat (or heart)of consciousness, is critical to understanding the activity andbehaviour that finally defines and constitutes the value of ourexistence.

Interestingly, these three features of mind alsoconstitute what we would commonly refer to as our "heart", the heartthat is so eulogised in popular culture and given such wonderfulexpression through the creative "arts" of song, dance, drama, music,painting and sculpture. So, at the risk of coining a few bad puns, wecan confidently conclude that the mind, situated as it is at the coreof consciousness, and being the very springboard of action, really isthe heart of the matter - and thus, properly so, the real focus of our seminar.

Making Up Our Minds

Having analysed the faculties of the mind we will now look at what influences the nature and function of those faculties.

Above the mind, and what informs and should ultimately regulate it, is the Intelligence.

Below the mind, and what pulls and in most cases dictates to it, are the senses.

In Bhagavad-gita (as illustrated through the analogy of the chariot),the mind is depicted as the reins connecting the driver to the horses.Mind is an inherently mechanical instrument. The horses (senses) areconscious and active, the driver (intelligence) is conscious andactive, but the mind (reins), although the critical, pivotal factor,are inert and mechanical.

The Vedas describe that as part of the process of universal creationthe senses and their objects arise from each other. Thus there existsan inherent affinity and attraction between one and the other.Consequently, unless controlled otherwise, the senses will naturallypursue their respective objects as much as wild horses generally gowhere they will. In an uncontrolled situation the faculties of the mind(the reins), will tend to be subverted by the urges of the senses (thehorses) and ultimately be made even to serve those urges.

On the other side of the mind however (at the other end of the reins)stands the intelligence (the proverbial driver). The intelligence, onespower of discrimination, should ideally have the mind firmly under itscontrol, thereby directing the workings of the senses, and thus allactions of life. If the intelligence is strong and fixed on the path ofperfection then the course of one's life may be directed in adisciplined and productive way to that end.

The key to control of the mind therefore, and thus of life itself, is intelligence.

Section 4

How Intelligence Works

According to yoga philosophy intelligence is comprised of knowledge,memory and discrimination. The quality of our discrimination mustnecessarily be limited to the quality and quantity of our knowledge aswell as the strength of our ability to retain and recall suchknowledge. Knowledge without memory is as useless as memory withoutknowledge, and unless both are present we have no basis upon which todiscriminate.

Discrimination simply means the ability to evaluate things. In otherwords, to see things in terms of their proper value, both relative andabsolute. The conclusions we come to in consequence of our evaluationsforms the basis of our intellectual determination(as opposed to our sensual or mental determination). Ideally we shouldact according to the conclusions of our best intelligence, even if suchconclusions should clash (as they usually do) with the thoughts,feelings and desires of the mind, or the urges of our senses.

The essential aim of yoga, at least initially, is to gain control overthe mind and senses. One logical way of doing this is to strengthen andtrain the intelligence. This is done by education, instruction andpractice. Only if the education, instruction and practice are perfecthowever can we achieve a perfect result. We are all born into ignoranceand therefore success necessarily begins, as Krishna advises Arjuna, byseeking out a perfect teacher and accepting his shelter. Under hisdirection and through his instruction we can develop good intelligence.

Developing Spiritual Strength

In spite of good intelligence we often find ourselves succumbing to thetemptation of sense objects and the whims of our mind. What to do?

Superior to intelligence is the soul proper. This soul can be percievedby the faculty of perfect intelligence. Perfection as a conceptreflects the eternal nature of the soul itself. Perfect intelligencereally reflects only the natural desire and determination of the soul.Therefore real intelligence is actually synonymous with the trueexpression and aspiration of the actual self, the soul proper. Theperfection of intelligence necessarily involves therefore theresurrection of our eternal spiritual nature. Thus we come to the yogaprocess. Thus we come to the process of bhakti. Thus we come to the process of sadhana bhakti centered on sravanam, kirtanam, visnoh smaranam. [hearing, chanting & remembering the Absolute]

By practicing bhakti yoga the innate consciousness and faculties of thesoul are aroused and developed and one becomes firmly established inones original identity: jivera swarupa haya krishnera nitya dasa. [our form of eternal servitorship to the eternal absolute] Being firmly situated in the consciousness of krishnera nitya dasaa devotee's intelligence becomes informed thereby, steady, and strong.The mind and senses are consequently brought under control, or rather,in line with ones eternal spiritual nature. This is the perfection ofyoga, the perfection of existence, the perfection of consciousness, ofdesire and activity, and therefore of action.
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Become One?

Nowadays, no-one knows what is the Supreme. At best, they
think it is a blinding white light. They think that it is everywhere,
and everything, without any particular form or personality. They think
that since form and personality exist in the material world, they must
not exist in the spiritual world. Thus they form a philosophy based in
the monistic conception. When one merges, he loses his separate
identity in the blinding existence of brahman. Thus he loses
his vision, his hearing, his smelling, tasting, touching. No longer has
he hands, legs, head or voice. He becomes a spiritual light and enters
into the vast brahman effulgence and gets lost, just as a green
parrot seems to merge into a green tree. After some time, the parrot
wishes to fly away, and thus he is seen to be still existing separate
from the tree. Similarly, the living entity drops out of brahman
into this material world when he again desires sense enjoyment. We
never lose our separate existence as a spirit soul. We never lose our
Merging into the brahman is considered to be spiritual suicide by
devotees of Krishna. Vaishnavas do not want to give up their spiritual
senses, for they use those senses to serve the Lord. The spirit soul is
part of the Supreme, as a spark is part of a fire, thus he possesses
all the qualities of the Supreme. Since the Supreme is also sentient,
but to the highest degree, the parts of Him are also possessing senses,
but to a limited degree.
With our eyes we see the form of the Lord, with our ears we hear His
names and pastimes, with our tongue we taste food offered to Him with
love and devotion, and in this way we utilise our senses, mind and
intelligence in serving the Supreme. Since there are two, the servitor
and the served, there is a loving connection between them. Love
requires two, the lover and the beloved. When one becomes One, there is
no possibility of love.

Sri Hari - Lecture Into Sound
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ET's and their Philosophies

12.1 Atman, Brahman, and evolution of consciousness

This philosophy of scientific materialism is certainly accepted by manypeople today. If it is true, the ufonauts must be cosmicsuper-scientists, and we might expect them to do and say things thatare incomprehensible. But we would not expect them to makeunderstandable statements that clearly contradict fundamentalscientific principles. Yet this is exactly what they seem to be doing.Both in word and deed, the beings connected with UFOs seem toconsistently advocate a philosophy that radically contradicts modernscience. This philosophy can be summed up as follows: There is lifethroughout the universe, and this includes vast numbers of beings thatare very similar to ourselves in form and behavior. We can call thesebeings humanoids. They are conscious, and they have humanlyrecognizable emotions. They also generally have highly developedpsychical abilities. These beings, like ourselves, are souls inhabitingmaterial bodies. As souls, they transmigrate from one physical body toanother. There is a process of cosmic evolution of consciousness,whereby souls gradually progress in spiritual development by undergoingexperiences in a succession of material bodies. Spiritual advancementinvolves developing love and compassion for all beings, and it alsoinvolves the development of knowledge, intelligence, and psychicalpowers. Beings at high levels of spiritual advancement work togethercooperatively in an organized system of universal government. Incontrast, most humans of this earth are regarded as crude barbarianswho are retarded in spiritual development. In addition to the grossbody made of familiar material elements, there is a subtle body made offiner energies unknown to modern science. There are also differentplanes of existence, which can be thought of as parallel orhigher-dimensional realities. These planes are inhabited by humanoidbeings, and some of these beings are able to travel from one plane toanother. Some of these beings can also exert control over the gross andsubtle bodies of human beings, and cause them to move and transform inremarkable ways. (For example, they can move a human body through asolid wall.) The life forms in the universe have all come into beingthrough a process of creation. This process is not clearly explained,but the basic idea is that there is a universal Creator from whomliving beings are naturally generated. This explains how human-likeforms can arise throughout the universe, even though this seems highlyimplausible from the viewpoint of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Thisphilosophy is pantheistic. The Creator is present everywhere, and actseverywhere through nature. The Creator is often regarded as impersonal,and is said to be nearly incomprehensible and inaccessible. At thehighest level, the Creator is regarded as the One--as eternal, nondualbeing, full of consciousness, love, and light. It is said that theevolution of consciousness will eventually bring one to the point ofexperiencing the One or of entering into It. This, in brief, is thephilosophy that emerges fully or partially from many UFOcommunications, including channeled communications and communicationsreceived in direct encounters with UFO entities. This philosophysharply contradicts scientific materialism in many important ways. Itis also far from being alien. It is expounded in a vast humanliterature, and it is well known to many people. To me, at least, theidea that ostensibly non-human beings are promoting this philosophy inhuman society was unexpected and astonishing. Nonetheless, there is agreat deal of evidence suggesting that this is happening, and I havepresented some of it in previous chapters. Here I will review some ofthis evidence, and introduce some additional material. Then I will makea few remarks about what this all implies regarding philosophy,science, and religion.

12.1.1 Transmigration and higher planes

In Chapter 6, I mentioned that the UFO abductee Betty Andreasson spokeof alien beings as living in other "planes" or dimensions. Thus, whenasked if these beings could travel to other stars, she said they couldtravel to some near our earth, and to others beyond. She clarified thisby saying, "Beyond ours there are others, but they are in a differentplane. They're in a heavier space." She also pointed out that they cansee the future, and that "Time to them is not like our time, but theyknow about our time."/1/ She reported being conducted through a UFO bya being of the "Gray" type who identified himself as Quazgaa. Thisbeing told her telepathically about the intentions of his group, sayingthat, "because of great love, they cannot let man continue in thefootsteps that he is going...They have technology that man could use...It is through the spirit,... If Man will study nature itself, he willfind many of the answers... Man will find them through the spirit. Manis not made of just flesh and blood."/2/ Betty Andreasson is aFundamentalist Christian, and thus we might expect her to make remarksabout "love" and "the spirit." However, the idea of a "differentplane," or a "heavier space" does not play any role in traditionalChristian thinking. It turns out that there are also other indicationsof a non- Christian source for her alien communications. For example,on one occasion, it appears that Betty's speech was taken over by heralien visitors during a hypnotic session. At this point she said, withmechanical intonation, "You try to seek in wrong directions. Simplicity'round about you. Air you breath, water you drink, fire that warms,earth that heals. Simplicity, ashes, things that are necessary takenfor granted. Powers within them overlooked. Why you think you are ableto live? Simplicity."/3/ This statement refers to the elements, air,water, fire, and earth. These elements are an important part of thesankhya philosophy of India, of ancient Greek philosophy, and of themedieval Hermetic traditions. But today they are regarded as outmodedcategories by scientists, and it seems doubtful that Betty Andreassonwas ever taught otherwise in school or in her church. Betty'sexperience of the burning of the Phoenix (Section xx) also involved atheme that is certainly not prominent in Christianity today, but whichwas a part of old Egyptian tradition. The idea that there are otherplanes or dimensions came up in a rather harrowing fashion in theexperience of a commercial artist and his wife who reported beingmentally lured into a UFO by a tall, hairless man in a bizarre bluecape (Section 10.3.2). The artist reported being subjected to a typicalexamination. In the course of this, his mind was forcefully invaded,and he received insights into higher dimensions of reality: "It's likethey're picking my I don't have any control. My brain, it'slike there's a tunnel that goes through my mind to theirs. ... Ourminds are connected. It's like a tube, maybe it's light? It's like agrey light, grey-brown light, brownish-grey. It's like everything'sbeing pulled out of my head. ... There's a terrible sound, but I can'ttell what it is--only it's piercing, high pitched. ... It's coming frommy head. My head is's like I can see all my thoughts, likegoo. Everything in my mind is stripped. I've got it, but they've got ittoo."/4/

Then they put it back with additions:

"There's more to it than anybody knows. There's more to life, more tothe world. There's more to everything than anybody knows. Moredimensions, things co-existing. There are other dimensions...more thanthree dimensions. Everywhere, it all works together. Everythingco-exists. There's different dimensions we can't go into."/5/

The communications reported by Eduard Meier also contain detailedreferences to the soul, reincarnation, and higher planes or dimensions.His extraterrestrial contact, Semjase, allegedly told him that there ismore to human life than just the body: "Intelligence and knowledge,even wisdom therefore are not bound only to genes, but are generated bythe spirit inhabiting and animating the respective body of a humanbeing."/6/ She also maintained that the soul can transmigrate either inthis world or in immaterial, spiritual worlds of graded levels:

"There exist spiritual worlds in rarer dimensions than that in whichyou live with your material bodies. In these worlds there livebodiless, or better, beings with immaterial bodies, beingswho--according to their development--rise in even higher dimensionswith still finer spiritual bodies...they may reincarnate into amaterial body in order to take further experience at your density ofbeing. ... When a person dies his spiritual body escapes to the spiritworld of being where he will stay for some time until he can progressto a higher dimension still or be reincarnated again."/7/

Meier also said that his contacts, although fully human in form, camefrom parallel or other-dimensional realms. One of them, a woman namedAsket, was said to come from a parallel world called the DAL universe.Likewise, on Erra, Semjase's planet in the Pleiades, "the life andcivilization and all its works exist in a slightly different dimensionand time frame."/8/ Thus if we went there, we wouldn't see itsinhabitants. Meier stated that this is true of the intelligent beingson Venus also./9/ A Southern Baptist minister in Puerto Rico claimed tohave had many contacts with humanoid beings from the planet Koshnak inthe direction of the constellation of Orion. These beings were verysimilar in appearance to the familiar "Gray" entities. They hadmelon-shaped, expressionless faces with thin lips, undeveloped nosesand ears, and large wrap-around eyes without pupils. The eyes were weregreen with scintillating flashes, and they were said to be intense andarresting./10/ However, unlike the typical encounters with "Grays,"this was a classical contactee case. The beings treated the man in avery friendly way. One of them, who was named Ohneshto, took him onrides in one of their vehicles, showed him undersea bases on the earth,and telepathically presented him with long philosophical discoursesabout time, space, and the reasons for human existence./11/ Thisincluded references to higher dimensions:

"He said they travel in the seventh and eighth dimensions, unknown toEarth humans, and that they are aware of 13 dimensions of being.Ohneshto pointed out references in our Bible pertaining to UFOs. Hesaid that their normal span of life is about 800 to 1,000 of our years.... Ohneshto said that the axis of the Earth has changed four times asfar as they have checked this out, that it tilts about every 20 to 25centuries."/12/

I am including the remark about shifts in the earth's axis since thisis a topic that frequently comes up in UFO communications. It is alsointeresting that Ohneshto told the minister that beings from thePleiades are visiting the earth./13/ On a later occasion, the ministersaw a small UFO and received a telepathic communication that a pictureof it would be found in Wendelle Stevens' book, UFO...Contact from thePleiades./14/ Taken literally, this would seem to connect this casewith the Meier case in Switzerland. Is this story just a lie? Or doMeier's Pleiadians have connections with Ohneshto's people? It is oftenhard to know how to evaluate such correlations, but I mention thembecause they do show up regularly in UFO reports. This case was similarin many ways to the case of Filiberto Cardenas discussed in Section5.2. There also, the contacting entities spoke of other dimensions.Cardenas testified that during a voluntary visit on one of their ships,they told him that, "they are beings of other dimensions, of otherworlds, but that they are not gods, and they do not want to beconsidered such."/15/

12.1.2 Pantheism and impersonalism

In Chapter 11, I discussed the extensive material linking UFOencounters with out-of-body experiences. There I also noted that theU.S. government has allegedly hosted an "Extraterrestrial BiologicalEntity" or EBE, who stated that reincarnation is real and that, "It'sthe machinery of the universe."

On Oct. 14, 1988 a television documentary entitled "UFOS:

Government Coverup--Live" was broadcast across the United States. Thisshow presented testimony by a supposed U.S. intelligence agent namedFalcon, who made numerous statements about EBE and his race of beings.When asked if these aliens believe in a Supreme Being, Falcon answered,"They have a religion, but it's a universal religion. They believe inthe universe as a Supreme Being." The EBE stories, of course, are tiedin with a complex mass of allegations regarding UFO cover-ups,government conspiracies, and disinformation (Section 3.5.4). They havea rather sinister tone, and they include the story that the EBEscreated Jesus Christ./16/ Since Christ is worshipped by Christians as apersonal God, it would seem that whoever is behind the EBE stories hassome interest in undermining personal theism and replacing it withpantheism. A negative aspect can also be seen in other UFOcommunications that convey an impersonal, pantheistic conception ofGod. For example, the psychic Robert Monroe, known for hisinvestigations of out-of-body travel, reported the following experiencewith a mysterious beam of radiation that seemed to emanate from a pointin the sky:

"I suddenly felt bathed in and transfixed by a very powerful beam thatseemed to come from the North, about 30 degrees above the horizon. Iwas completely powerless, with no will of my own, and I felt as if Iwere in the presence of a very strong force, in personal contact withit. It had intelligence of a form beyond my comprehension, and it camedirectly (down the beam?) into my head, and it seemed to be searchingevery memory in my mind. I was truly frightened because I was powerlessto do anything about this intrusion."/17/

Jacques Vallee compared Monroe's beam with the beams of light shown inreligious art carrying revelations from God. It is interesting thatduring one of its appearances, the beam conveyed a very cold,impersonal concept of God to Monroe. This was so overpowering that itcaused Monroe to weep bitterly. He said, "then I knew withoutqualification or future hope of change that the God of my childhood, ofthe churches, of religion throughout the world was not as we worshippedhim to be."/18/ Monroe had apparently been thinking of God as a personwho might show concern for an individual worshiper. But whoever wasresponsible for the beam went to the trouble of disabusing him of thisconcept.

By the way, beams from the sky that probe people's minds date back atleast to the early 1950s in UFO contact reports. For example, inSection 6.3.3, I recounted a story by George Hunt Williamson about howbeings communicating from outer space tried to probe the mind of theelderly father-in-law of his friend, Mr. R. Shortly after this, a14-year-old neighborhood boy named Ronnie Tucker reported having adream in which he saw "a beam of light about one foot wide, and tubularin shape, misty white, coming from far out in space and going directlyinto that part of Mr. R's home where his father-in-law wassleeping."/19/ This occurred on the night of the mind probe. The Meiercase is another instance in which ostensibly extraterrestrial beingstry to convince earth people that God is impersonal. According toSemjase, "Above everything one alone possesses the power of life anddeath over each creature. That is CREATION alone, which regulates thelaws over all, laws which are irrefutable and of their own eternalvalidity."/20/ Semjase strongly emphasized that there is no personalCreator, and that the supreme Creation is strictly impersonal. Shemaintained that religions devoted to an anthropomorphic God have had adetrimental effect on the human spirit, and she told Meier that hismission is to "bring this truth to the light of the world."/21/ Thephilosophy presented by Semjase is very similar to the atheisticsankhya philosophy of India. In this school of philosophy, it isunderstood that there are two basic ingredients making up the universe:prakriti, or matter, and purusha, the living beings. Prakriti operatesaccording to inherent laws, and thus it is comparable to matter andenergy as understood in modern physics. However, the subcategories ofprakriti include subtle and etheric types of energy unknown topresent-day physicists. The living beings are particles ofconsciousness embedded within the matrix of prakriti. Each consciousbeing is situated within gross and subtle bodily coverings made ofprakriti, and all of these beings transmigrate from from one gross bodyto another in accordance with universal laws. Living beings can alsooperate within bodies of purely subtle energy. This can be comparedwith Semjase's philosophy, which features souls in bodies produced bythe laws of Creation. The atheistic sankhya philosophy is so namedbecause it denies the existence of a supreme personal controller of theuniverse, and it maintains that prakriti and its laws are supreme. Incontrast, the Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavata Purana, and other importantVedic works expound what is known as the theistic sankhya philosophy.In the theistic system, both prakriti and the conscious living beingsare understood to be energetic emanations from an eternal, consciousSupreme Person. In India there is a long standing controversy betweenthose who regard the Supreme Being as an impersonal power, and thosewho regard the Supreme as a transcendental person. Although I could notbegin to do justice to this topic here, I will mention one interestingpoint which arises in the philosophy of Semjase. She pointed out thatthe Cosmic laws governing the Creation are not like the laws ofphysics, with their impersonal forces and charges. Even though theCreation is impersonal, its laws are personal in nature. Thus Semjasesaid that real spiritual people don't pray for needs. They know that"because of the almighty spirit in themselves, they will get what theyneed, and besides, all they want, as long as it is according to theCosmic Law of love to all."/22/ Now love is something having to do withpersons. If the Cosmic Law is impersonal in nature, then how is it thatit is based on love? Note that this problem does not come up in modernscientific theories. According to modern science, love is simply arecent outgrowth of hominid evolution in Africa, and it has nothing todo with Cosmic Law. But if the personal quality of love is built intoCosmic Law, then it is natural to ask why. If there is a transcendentalperson behind the Cosmic Law, then the answer is that the law wascrafted according to the loving intentions of that person. Semjase alsoexplained how matter and energy are produced in the Creation: "Energyis the result of idea. ... This goes back to original creation itself,being the first energy born from idea. Then the forces of Spiritconcentrate this idea/energy of high vibration and when the vibrationis lowered, matter results."/23/ Here the question is: If the Creationis an impersonal force, then does it make sense to say that it hasideas? Ideas are normally associated with a conscious being. Thephilosophical points brought up by Semjase are certainly not new inhuman society, and one wonders where Meier really got them. All ofthese points are well known in India, and Meier is known to have spenttime there. It could be that he was simply expounding from the mouth ofSemjase ideas he picked up in India. Or it might be that he really didhave an extraordinary visitor who taught him these things. There is aprecedent for this. In Section 5.3, I related the story of how AliceBailey wrote books that were dictated to her telepathically by "theTibetan," a human mystic and occult adept who was living in Tibet. TheTibetan expounded an extremely complex metaphysical system in which theSupreme Being is known as "He About Whom Naught May Be Said." He alsosaid that the Masters in his group were trying to "shatter thematerialism of the west on the one hand and on the other thesentimental devotion of many devotees of all faiths."/24/ Highlyelaborate communications like Meier's are suspect because their verycomplexity indicates that someone with strong motives is behind them.That someone could be either a determined hoaxer or an actual visitingentity (who might also be a determined hoaxer). However, there arerelatively uncomplicated humanoid encounters in which pantheistictheological comments are made. For example, strange entities madetheological remarks to a twenty-five year old man in July, 1968 at theGrodner pass in the Italian Dolomites. He met tall, thin beings withdomed heads and beautiful Oriental eyes who were accompanied by a smallrobot. They telepathically told him, "We come from a planet in a fargalaxy," and "Everything is God." They also warned that a pole shift iscoming, the earth's crust will crack, and life will be in greatdanger./25/ Here the parallels with the Meier case are: pantheistictheology, the use of robots, and warnings about shifts in the earth'saxis. Another theological revelation was given to Mrs. CynthiaAppleton, a 27-year-old mother of two children, living at Aston inBirmingham, England. At 3 p.m. on Nov. 18, 1957, she was about to checkon her baby daughter. Suddenly she sensed an oppressiveness, like thatpreceding a thunderstorm, and saw a "man" materialize with a whistlingnoise near the fireplace. This apparition was initially blurry, andthen clear. He was tall and fair, with a tight fitting plastic-likegarment, featuring an "Elizabethan" collar. He answered her questionstelepathically, revealing that he had come from a world of peace andharmony in a saucer-type craft. He was able to convey a picture of thisin a mysterious fashion. On a second occasion two similar figures spoketo her in a strange style of English, and informed her that they wereprojections and should not be touched. One point they made was that"the Deity itself dwells at the heart and core of the atom." It is saidthat there were no books in Mrs. Appleton's house-- only newspapers.Those who interviewed her described her as a pleasant and sincere youngwoman./26/ Although this statement about the Deity may seem to beanother pantheistic statement, it may also have a deeper meaning. Inthe Brahma-samhita it is said that God dwells within each atom(Sanskrit, paramanu or smallest particle), and innumerable universessimultaneously exist within God./27/ Here the idea is that God is aSupreme Person who is distinct from the universal manifestation, and atthe same time is fully present within every particle of matter.

12.1.3 Brahman realization

In Section 11.1.1, I recounted a UFO abduction in which BettyAndreasson was brought to a huge Door in an underground complex. Atthat point she went out of her body, passed through the Door, and hadan experience of meeting the One. This experience created greathappiness, but she was unable to explain it:

Betty: "It's--words cannot explain it. It's wonderful. It's for everybody. I just can't tell you this."

Fred Max: "You can't? Okay, why can't you?"

Betty: "For one thing, it's too overwhelming and it isundescribable. I just can't tell you. Besides, it's just impossible forme to tell you." Fred Max: "Were you told not to share it with me?"/28/

It seems doubtful that this testimony was evoked by leading questionsfrom the hypnotist, Fred Max. He seemed to think that Betty could notdescribe her experience because the aliens were controlling her mind--astandard idea among investigators of UFO abductions. However, it seemsclear that she could not describe the experience because it wasliterally beyond words. A standard method of trying to get aroundmental blocks inhibiting a person's memory is to ask the person, whileunder hypnosis, to visualize the blocked experience as though seeing iton TV. When this was tried with her experience of seeing the One, Bettyresponded by saying:

"Ohhh! There's a bright light coming out of the television! This isweird! There's rays of light, bright white light, just [pause] likethey've got a spotlight coming out of the television! It's hurting myeyes!"/29/

In Vedic literature, Brahman is spoken of as an indescribable whitelight that is characterized by oneness, eternity, and unlimitedhappiness. The UFO investigators who were interviewing Betty Andreassondid not seem to know about this, and it seems probable that she alsodid not know about it. Realization of ultimate oneness is described byCatholic mystics such as Meister Eckhart, but it does not generallyfigure in fundamentalist Protestant traditions. It seems quite likelythat her experience of the One actually took place. Philosophical ideasregarding the One were presented by the "Ra" entity in channeledcommunications received by Carla Rueckert (Sections 6.3.1-2). Raclaimed to be a telepathically linked complex of beings that had oncelived on a higher dimensional level on Venus, and that had communicatedmonotheistic ideas to the Pharaoh Ikhnaton in ancient Egypt./30/ Now,however, the concern of Ra is to merge with the One, and teach othersabout this possibility. Thus Ra says, "We cannot say what is beyondthis dissolution of the unified self with all that there is, for westill seek to become all that there is, and still we are Ra. Thus ourpaths go onward."/31/ In India there is a famous philosophical schoolcalled advaita vedanta, which teaches that the ultimate goal is mergethe individual ego into the one Brahman. This school follows the Vedicteachings, and thus it maintains that there is a celestial hierarchy ofinhabited realms, and that souls transmigrate through gross and subtleforms in these realms. But it also holds that at the ultimate level ofunderstanding, all of these realms are illusory, and nothing exists butthe One Consciousness, or Brahman. Thus ultimate understanding means tobecome identical with Brahman, which is all that is. This philosophy isvery similar to the atheistic sankhya philosophy. In the latter, themahat-tattva, or ultimate substrate of matter, is held to be theultimate cause. But this ultimate substrate is not like dead matter aswe know it. Rather, "the mahat-tattva is the total consciousnessbecause a portion of it is represented in everyone as theintellect."/32/ Thus the mahat-tattva is conceptually similar toBrahman. The two philosophies differ mainly in emphasis. The atheisticsankhya philosophy appeals to a person who wishes to make progress inmaterial life in a way harmonious with universal law. In contrast, thephilosophy of advaita vedanta appeals to one who wishes to abandonmaterial life and merge into the absolute. In fact, the goal of thePleiadians, as presented by Meier, is to live an advanced material lifeby obeying Cosmic Law, while the aim of Ra is to attain ultimateOneness. However, there is more to Indian philosophy than just theschools of atheistic sankhya and advaita vedanta. According to Vaisnavaphilosophy, Brahman is the effulgence of the transcendental body of theSupreme Lord, and it forms the atmosphere of the spiritual world.Brahman realization is simply the starting point of higher spiritualexperience. Here is a description from the Bhagavata Purana of ajourney by Arjuna and Krishna into Brahman and beyond:

"Following the Sudarsana disc, the chariot went beyond the darkness andreached the endless spiritual light of the all- pervasive brahma-jyoti.As Arjuna beheld this glaring effulgence, his eyes hurt, and so he shutthem. "From that region they entered a body of water resplendent withhuge waves being churned by a mighty wind. Within that ocean Arjuna sawan amazing palace more radiant than anything he had ever seen before.Its beauty was enhanced by thousands of ornamental pillars bedeckedwith brilliant gems. "In that palace was the huge, awe-inspiringserpent Ananta Sesa. He shone brilliantly with radiance emanating fromthe gems on His thousands of hoods and reflecting from twice as manyfearsome eyes. He resembled white Mount Kailasa, and His necks andtongues were dark blue. "Arjuna then saw the omnipresent and omnipotentSupreme Personality of Godhead, Maha-Visnu, sitting at ease on theserpent bed. His bluish complexion was the color of a dense rain-cloud,He wore a beautiful yellow garment, His face looked charming, His broadeyes were most attractive, and He had eight arms. His profuse locks ofhair were bathed on all sides in the brilliance reflected from clustersof precious jewels decorating his crown and earrings. He wore theKaustubha gem, the mark of Srivatsa and a garland of forest flowers."Serving that topmost of all Lords were His personal attendants headedby Nanda and Sunanda; His cakra and other weapons in their personifiedforms; His consort potencies Pusti, Sri, Kirti, and Aja; and all Hisvarious mystic powers."/33/

Here the word brahma-jyoti means Brahman effulgence. The potency calledAja is the energy of material creation. The understanding is that thisscene lies completely beyond the material realm. If the brahma-jyoti issimply the atmosphere of a higher spiritual region then, to paraphraseRa, there is something beyond the dissolution of the unified self withall that is. According to the Vaisnava philosophy, once the bondage ofmaterial ego is dissolved, the soul becomes free to act on a purelyspiritual platform. Since the soul emanates from the Supreme Being,there is a natural relationship of love between the soul and theSupreme. This natural love is obscured when the soul is in a state ofmaterial consciousness. When the soul attains to Brahman, it reaches aneutral state, and its natural loving tendency is manifest without anobject. In the pure spiritual realm, this love becomes expressed in theform of service to the transcendental Supreme Lord. It is alsoexpressed in the form of compassion towards souls in material bondage,who are all parts and parcels of the Lord, but are lost inforgetfulness./34/ The three children who received the revelations atFatima also had what appears to be an experience of the brahma-jyoti.After the initial conversation between the children and the effulgentlady, "she opened her hands and streams of intense light flowed fromthem which overwhelmed the children's souls, causing them to feel 'lostin God' Whom they recognized in that light."/35/ This description makessense from the Vedic standpoint, and it also illustrates the idea thata higher being can cause a more or less ordinary human to have atemporary experience of Brahman. Something similar seems to havehappened in the Andreasson case. Not to be outdone, Eduard Meier alsorecounted an experience of Brahman realization. According to him, thishappened when a Pleiadian spaceship on which he was traveling made aleap from one universe to another, and entered a state beyond space andtime between the two universes. Here is how he described the experience:

"Suddenly all is merging into a golden color, and now everything islike silver. But--my dear--this glistening light, this beaming shiningsplendor! Everything is merged into glistening light... It is strongerthan all the suns of the Universe... Dear, this must be eternity, theglistening light of the eternal... This tranquillity, this peace--whatis it? How could I have achieved this? Love, oh that deep allencompassing love. Nothing is there, but LOVE: wonderful,marvelous."/36/

It is clear that Meier was talking about Brahman realization in thispassage. After his experience, he was told by Semjase that one cannotenter permanently into that state of consciousness unless one hasevolved to an advanced spiritual level. This is certainly in agreementwith Vedic philosophy, and the question, as always with Meier, iswhether his account is genuine, or was cleverly contrived.

[taken from Richard L. Thompson's Alien Identities]
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Where's the proof?!


The role of Maya

(...) It seems then, that many actions and communications connected with UFOs are consistent with the ancient Vedic worldview. Some UFO entities present philosophies representing particular subsets of Vedic thought. There are discussions of the soul and its evolution in consciousness. There are practical demonstrations of different kinds of travel of the gross and subtle bodies, and of spiritual states of consciousness up to Brahman realization. There are also theoretical descriptions of these states, especially in channeled communications. I am not aware, however, of any discussions of direct love of God. At the same time, many UFO communications present bizarre stories that vary widely from one case to another. It was shown in Chapter 6 that these stories contradict one another in many details, and thus most are demonstrably full of false assertions. There are also the disturbing UFO abductions, and the indications of overtly harmful UFO activity discussed in Chapter 10. How are we to understand all of this? One interesting idea that appears in some communications is that there is a cosmic law of confusion that regulates the dissemination of information to human beings. This law may help explain why UFO communications seem to contain a bewildering mixture of nonsense and possibly valid information. The Ra entities mentioned this law in accordance with their story of how they built the Great Pyramid of Egypt. When they said that they built it out of thought-forms, they were asked why it was created in separate blocks, as though it had been assembled from quarried stones. Ra replied:

"There is a law which we believe to be one of the more significant primal distortions of the Law of One. That is the Law of Confusion. You have called this the Law of Free Will. ... We did not desire to allow the mystery [of the Great Pyramid] to be penetrated by the peoples in such a way that we became worshipped as builders of a miraculous pyramid. Thus it appears to be made, not thought."/37/

Regardless of how the Great Pyramid was really built, this Law of Confusion is worth thinking about. The basic idea is that in order to preserve the free will of human beings, it is necessary to withhold information from them, and even bewilder them with false information. This concept is interesting, if we consider not only the bewildering character of UFO communications, but also the illusive nature of UFO evidence in general. Often this evidence is strong enough to be impressive, but it is never so overwhelming that a skeptic would be denied his own free will in deciding whether or not to accept it. One can conceive of scenarios, such as a mass landing of UFOs in Washington, D.C., which would be so convincing as to rule out this exercise of free will. Could it be that the Law of Confusion is being applied to the UFO phenomenon so as to preserve people's free will, while at the same time providing useful information for people who are prepared to accept it? Vedic ideas can throw a great deal of light on the nature of the Law of Confusion. According to the Vedas, the material world is fashioned out of an energy called maya. Maya means, illusion, magic, and the power that creates illusion. The basic Vedic idea is that the universe is created as a playground for souls who seek to enjoy life separately from the Supreme Being. If these souls were in full knowledge of reality, then they would know the position of the Supreme, and they would know that such separate enjoyment is impossible. The universe is therefore created as a place of illusion, or maya, in which these souls can pursue their separate interests. Another aspect of the Vedic worldview is that the Supreme Being wants the materially illusioned souls within the universe to return to Him. But for this to be meaningful, it must be voluntary. The real essence of the soul is to act freely out of love. Thus if the soul is forced to act by superior power, then this essence cannot be realized. For this reason, the Supreme Being tries to give the soul the knowledge of how to return to the Supreme in a delicate way that does not overpower the soul's free will. Here is the perspective of the Bhagavata Purana on the relationship between the Supreme and the world of illusion:

"I offer my obeisances to Vasudeva, the Supreme, All- pervading Personality of Godhead. I meditate upon Him, the transcendent reality, who is the primeval cause of all causes, from whom all manifested universes arise, in whom they dwell, and by whom they are destroyed. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. "It is He only who first imparted Vedic knowledge into the heart of Brahma, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal."/38/

In Section xx, I compared the universe to a virtual reality manifested within a computer by a master programmer. In a virtual reality, people actually exist outside of the false, computer generated world, but they experience the illusion that they are within that world. If they forget their actual existence, then the illusion becomes complete, and they identify themselves fully with their computer generated, virtual bodies. According to the Vedas, this is the position of conditioned souls within the material universe. Within the overall illusion of maya, there are many subillusions. The overall illusion causes one to forget the omnipotence of the Supreme, and the subillusions cause one to forget the cosmic managerial hierarchy set up by the Supreme within the material universe. All of these illusions allow the individual soul to act by free will, even though he is actually under higher control. At the same time, the illusions are not so strong that an individual who wants to seek out the truth is unable to do so. If maya were so strong as to stop any effort to find the truth, then this too would block people's free will. According to the Vedic system, the Supreme Being arranges for teachers to descend into the material world to give transcendental knowledge to the conditioned souls. By the arrangement of maya, people will always have plentiful excuses for rejecting these teachers if they so desire. But if they desire higher knowledge, they will also be provided with adequate evidence to distinguish that knowledge from illusion. Within the last few centuries on this earth, the view has been developed that life is simply a physio-chemical process that evolved gradually over millions of years. According to this view, we are the topmost products of evolution on this planet. If there is life elsewhere in the universe, it also had to slowly evolve on planets with suitable conditions. Therefore, intelligent life forms that might be superior to us are likely to be safely far away, and we don't have to worry about them. This view is highly conducive to a program of free enjoyment and exploitation for people of this earth. But unfortunately, such a program causes damage to the earth's biosphere, and it blocks the path of advancement for those who might want to learn about their spiritual nature. This means that even though the modern, materialistic worldview expedites the free will of some persons, it blocks the free will of others. Perhaps the UFO phenomenon is one way in which the modern materialistic outlook is being gently revised by higher arrangement. Scientists are given their comeuppance by being confronted with impossible flying machines that break the laws of physics. Beings with magical powers appear to show us that we are not the topmost living species. Yet at the same time, the UFO phenomena are illusive, the communications are contradictory, and there is always room for doubt. If this is what is happening, I suspect that it involves complex arrangements involving many different forms of life. Some UFO phenomena may be directly caused by beings in the mode of darkness that frighten people but at the same time expand their understanding of life and its powers. Some of these activities may involve a genuine protest by beings that live in our own world and are disturbed by our technological misadventures. Other phenomena may involve preaching programs carried out by beings who have a message to convey. After all, religious proselytizing does not have to be limited to ordinary humans. These messages may vary in quality and in depth, and ultimately individuals will have to use their own discrimination to decide what to accept and what to reject. I suggested in Section 5.3 that some beings who produce lights, high pitched sounds, and telepathic communications may even be human yogis with highly developed mystic powers. The events at Fatima discussed in Section 9.7 suggest that persons from higher planets may also be appearing on the earth, moved by compassion for human suffering. All of these possibilities are consistent with the Vedic tradition. According to ancient Vedic texts, there was a time when people of this earth were in regular contact with many different kinds of beings, from negative entities in the mode to darkness to great sages in advanced states of spiritual consciousness. The modern phenomena tend to confirm the Vedic picture, and this may also be part of the plan behind these phenomena. The teachings of the ancient sages are still available, but they have become eclipsed by the modern developments of materially oriented science and technology. Perhaps the time is coming when they will again be taken seriously.
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Vedic insight into the Starseed condition!

The following I share with you from Richard Thompson's book 'Alien Identities' (available in the Starseed Book Network).

Curiously enough, this very idea comes up in one of the channeled UFO communications--whatever their real source may be. Here is a quotation from a communicator names Hatonn, who said that he represents the "Confederation of Planets in Service of the Infinite Creator:"

Many of us who are now circling your planet would desire to have the opportunity that you have, the opportunity to be within the illusion and then, through the generation of understanding, use the potentials of the illusion. This is a way of gaining progress spiritually and has been sought out by many of our brothers.

Here is a quotation from the Bhaagavata Puraana that makes a very similar point:

Since the human form of life is the sublime position for spiritual realisation, all the demigods in heaven speak in this way: How wonderful it is for these human beings to have been born in the land of Bhaarata-varsa.... We demigods can only aspire to achieve human births in Bhaarata-varsa to execute devotional service, but these human beings are already engaged there.

Bhaarata-varsa is the domain of the short-lived human form of life, and thus it refers to this earth planet. Since the human race is important from a spiritual point of view, it tends to be protected by higher authorities within the universe, and this is one reason why it is not easily taken over by more powerful beings. This idea also comes up in another form in the following description of the Gentry, or fairy folk, recorded in Ireland by the ethnologist Evans-Wentz:

The folk are the grandest I have ever seen. They are far superior to us, and that is why they are called the gentry. They are not a working class, but a military-aristocratic class, tall and noble-appearing. They are a disctinct race between our own and that of spirits, as they have told me. Their qualifications are tremendous. "We could cut off half the human race, but would not," they said, "for we are expecting salvation."

In summary, the Vedic literature, many UFO communications, and Celtic folklore all suggest that the human society may sometimes be affected by the activities of more powerful beings who are primarily concerned with their own affairs. While pursuing their own agendas, these beings may occasionally intervene in human society in ways that seem mysterious from a limited human perspective, but makes sense within their own complex framework of activity. These interventions may be harmful or beneficial, depending on the underlying motives of the beings involved. They fall short of displaying the full powers of these beings for a variety of reasons, ranging from spiritually-based laws of noninterference to contempt for the weakness of insignificant humans.

The Plot of the Mahaabhaarata
Thus far, I have discussed two Vedic examples of alien invasions of the earth. In each case, most human beings experienced these invasions in the form of sporadic nocturnal attacks by terrifying beings who seemed to come out of nowhere. The attacks were highly disturbing to people who heard about them and devastating to those who experienced them, but they didn't have much effect on human society as a whole. There is one example, however, of an attempt by Daityas and Daanavas to take over and rule human society, and this forms the main plot of the Mahaabhaarata.
The story begins at a long time ago, when human society was prospering. People were dedicated to principles of virtue, and they did not decline into decadence as they began to experience material success. However, this auspicious situation did not last. Just as in the story of the Kaaleya Daanavas, human society began to be affected by events occurring in the celestial planetary systems. Here is what happened, as narrated to King Janamejaya by the sage Vaishampaayana:

But then, O best of monarchs, just as humankind was flourishing, powerful and demonic creatures began to take birth from the wives of earthly kings.
Once the godly Aadityas, who administer the universe, fought their wicked cousins the Daityas, and vanquished them. Bereft of their power and positions, the Daityas began to take birth on this planet, having carefully calculated that they could easily become the gods of the earth, bringing it under their demonic rule. And thus it happened, O mighty one, that the Asuras began to appear among different creatures and communities.

As in the case of the Kaaleya Daanavas, this attempt involved covert activities rather than out-and-out invasion of the earth by alien armies. The technique adopted by the invading forces was to enter in their subtle bodies into the wombs of the wives of kings and thereby take birth in royal families. In this way they seized control of earthly goverments and were able to exploit the earth as they liked.

As these demonic creatures continued to take birth on the earth, the earth herself could not bear the weight of their presence. Having fallen from their positions in the higher planets, the sons of Diti and Danu thus appeared in this world as monarchs, endowed with great strength, and in many other forms. They were bold and haughty, and they virtually surrounded the water-bounded earth, ready to crush those who would oppose them.
They harrassed the teachers, rulers, merchants, and workers of the earth, and all other creatures. Moving about by the hundreds and thousands, they began to slay the earth's creatures, and they brought terror to the world. Unconcerned with the godly culture of the
brahmanas, they threatened the sages who sat peacefully in their aashramas, for the so-called kings were maddened by the strength of their bodies.

In response to this invasion, Bhumi, the earth-goddess, approached Lord Brahma and asked him to save the earth. Brahma responded by ordering the Devas to incarnate on earth just as the Asuras had done: "In order to remove the burden of the earth, each of you is to take birth on the earth through your empowered expansions to stop the spread of the demonic forces." Brahma also requested Lord Vishnu to appear on the earth as an avataara to oppose the demonic forces, and He agreed to do so.
In due course of time, various Devas appeared on the earth, either by entering personally into the wombs of earthly mothers or by impregnating earthly women and producing offpsring that partook of their own nature. Then Lord Vishnu appeared as Krishna, the son of Vasudeva and Devaki.
With the aid of the incarnate Devas, Krishna gradually annihilated the forces of the Daanavas. This involved many complex developments, and one of them, the fratricidal struggle between the Paandavas and the sons of Dhrtaraastra, is the main subject of the Mahaabhaarata. In this struggle, the celestial war between the Devas and Asuras was reenacted on earth, and Krishna's arrangement the forces of the Asuras were eventually defeated.
Several points can be made about this complex story. The first point is that at the present time much has been written about beings from other planets who reincarnate in human bodies as "Wanderers" with the aim of carrying out some higher purpose. There is also talk of "Walk-ins," or souls that take over existing bodies and displace their original souls. These concepts are similar to the idea presented in the Mahaabhaarata that the Devas and Asuras could take birth on earth with specific missions to perform.
To understand this idea, it is necessary to have a preliminary understanding of the soul, the subtle body, and the process of reincarnation. Curiously enough, these topics come up repeatedly in UFO close-encounter cases, and I will discuss them in the next chapter.
Another point is that invasions of the earth by inimical forces often provide an occasion for the introduction of profound ethical and spiritual teachings into human society. Thus Raavana's invasion resulted in the descent of Lord Raamachandra, who taught the life of an ideal king. Likewise, the Mahaabhaarata invasion culminated in the speaking of the Bhagavad-gita by Krishna. An interesting question is: Will something similar happen as a result of today's situation?

'om namo bhagavate vasudevaya'
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