Brahma and Consciousness of Man

By | February 15, 2019
Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore between World Wars

Can this be God abstracted from the world? Instead, it signifies not merely seeing him in all things, but saluting him in all the objects of the world. The attitude of the Godconscious man of the Upanishad towards the universe is one of a deep feeling of adoration. His object of worship is present everywhere. It is the one living truth that makes all realities true. This truth is not only of knowledge but of devotion.
‘Namonamah’ – we bow to him everywhere, and over and over again…

Buddha who developed the practical side of the teaching of Upanishads, preached the same message when he said, “With everything, whether it is above or below, remote or near, visible or invisible, thou shalt preserve a relation of unlimited love without any animosity or without a desire to kill. To live in such a consciousness while standing or walking, sitting or lying down till you are asleep, is Brahma vihāra, or, in other words, is living and moving and having your joy in the spirit of Brahma.”
What is that spirit? The Upanishad says,
Yaçchāyamasminnākāçē tējōmayō’mritamayah purushah sarvānubhūh
The being who is in his essence the light and life of all, who is world-conscious, is Brahma. To feel all, to be conscious of everything, is his spirit. We are immersed in his consciousness body and soul. It is through his consciousness that the sun attracts the earth; it is through his consciousness that the light-waves are being transmitted from planet to planet.
Yaçchāyamasminnātmani tējōmayō’mritamayah purushah sarvānubhūh

Not only in space, but this light and life, this all-feeling being is in our souls. He is allconscious in space, or the world of extension; and he is all-conscious in soul, or the world of intension.
Thus to attain our world-consciousness, we have to unite our feeling with this allpervasive infinite feeling. In fact, the only true human progress is coincident with this widening of the range of feeling. All our poetry, philosophy, science, art and religion are serving to extend the scope of our consciousness towards higher and larger spheres. Man does not acquire rights through occupation of larger space, nor through external conduct, but his rights extend only so far as he is real, and his reality is measured by the scope of his consciousness. We have, however, to pay a price for this attainment of the freedom of consciousness.
What is the price? It is to give one’s self away. Our soul can realise itself truly only by denying itself. The Upanishad says,
Tyaktēna bhuñjīthāh – Thou shalt gain by giving away,
Mā gridhah – Thou shalt not covet.
In Gita we are advised to work disinterestedly, abandoning all lust for the result. Many outsiders conclude from this teaching that the conception of the world as something unreal lies at the root of the so-called disinterestedness preached in India. But the
reverse is true. The man who aims at his own aggrandisement underrates everything else. Compared to his ego the rest of the world is unreal. Thus in order to be fully conscious of the reality of all, one has to be free himself from the bonds of personal desires. This discipline we have to go through to prepare ourselves for our social duties – for sharing the burdens of our fellow-beings. Every endeavour to attain a larger life requires of man “to gain by giving away, and not to be greedy.” And thus to expand gradually the consciousness of one’s unity with all is the striving of humanity.

The Infinite in India was not a thin nonentity, void of all content. The Rishis of India asserted emphatically,
Iha chēt avēdit atha satyamasti, nachēt iha avēdit mahatī vinashtih
“To know him in this life is to be true; not to know him in this life is the desolation of death.” How to know him then?
Bhūtēshu bhūtēshu vichintva – “By realising him in each and all.” Not only in nature but in the family, in society, and in the state, the more we realise the World-conscious in all, the better for us. Failing to realise it, we turn our faces to destruction. It fills me with great joy and a high hope for the future of humanity when I realise that there was a time in the remote past when our poet-prophets stood under the lavish sunshine of an Indian sky and greeted the world with the glad recognition of kindred. It was not an anthropomorphic hallucination. It was not seeing man reflected everywhere in grotesquely exaggerated images, and witnessing the human drama acted on a gigantic scale in nature’s arena of flitting lights and shadows. On the contrary, it meant crossing the limiting barriers of the individual, to become more than man, to become one with the All. It was not a mere play of the imagination, but it was the liberation of consciousness from all the mystifications and exaggerations of the self. These ancient seers felt in the serene depth of their mind that the same energy which vibrates and passes into the endless forms of the world manifests itself in our inner being as consciousness; and there is no break in unity. For these seers there was no gap in their luminous vision of perfection.

From “Sādhana” of Rabindranath Tagore

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