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Seminar on "The demolition of the past is a chapter in Natural Path"

4. Dr. S.V. Raghavan

Demolition means razing of a structure or building to the ground; it is usually the superstructure above the foundational ground that is brought down. However the rubble or broken parts of the structure remain with which we cannot build again. When the word ‘past’ is considered we have to distinguish between two kinds of ‘past’ we have. One that which is eternal, the unchangeable original condition, the state of absolute Purity from which we have descended and the other which has been assiduously built by us called by the Master, the individual network, a super structure that has been built up over the foundation, the Ultimate Ground of all Existence.

The individual network is sustained by the ‘separative’ feeling engendered in us, that each one of us is separate from the other and so also from the Supreme Being. We carry this uniqueness or individualistic feeling, that we are all independent existences each with his goal/s and way/s for achieving the same with the aim of securing individual satisfaction, pleasure and happiness. An unfortunate corollary to this thinking has been that all others and their own individual pursuits of happiness would be and in most cases, actually be impediments to the securing and permanence of our own enjoyment/happiness. This promotes feelings of insecurity, rivalry, jealousy, competition, ill-will which further widen the gulf between one another resulting in all the ills which have been plaguing humanity for so long. Friends have become aliens and even brothers belonging to the same biological parents often go to violent extremes, the disputes and rabid enmity being carried down the ‘family tree’.

The Master has dealth with the above theme in His commentary on the 6th commandment. All the above are the result of our forgetting our own ‘past’ of the first kind namely, our original nature, that each one of us is an inalienable part of the same Supreme Whole and we having come down from That, have also brought the same Whole in ‘essence’ as our own inheritance/share.

Now we will look in some detail at the ‘past’ of the second kind which is nothing but our ‘belongings’ accumulated by our thoughts and actions rooted firmly in ‘separateness feeling’. The Master gives a graphic description of the developments since the ‘beginning’.

“The existence of soul can be traced back as far back as to the time of creation when the soul existed in its naked form as a separate entity. From that state of primary existence of the soul in its most subtle form we marched on to grosser forms of existence. These may be expressed as coverings round the soul. The earliest coverings were of the finest nature and with them we existed in our homeland, the Realm of God. The addition of more and more coverings of ego continued and subsequently Manas (psyche), Chit (consciousness),Buddhi (intellect) and Ahankar (ego) in cruder form began to contribute to our grossness. In due course Samskaras (impressions) began to be formed which brought about their resultant effects-Slowly our existence assumed the densest form”.(DR-15/6)

“Since all created things had brought with them a reflection of the real power their actions were also similar to those of the cosmic powers which were set into motion by the effect of the stir…When man was created his condition was dormant.. Gradually the powers inherited by him began to develop and the same original thought that had caused the primary stir being present in man began to manifest itself in proportion to its magnitude. It began to display actions similar to those related with the divine. But the divine will being directed downwards man’s thought took a contrary trend and began to build up his own creation…This led to the formation of his individual network which in respect of purity was in contrast to that of the divine”.(IB-33/4)

In the beginning of the message, ‘Craving of the soul’ to which the topic under study belongs, the Master alludes to the way in which man has himself created the present environment enslaving him totally.

‘We find that we have set up in us a community of thoughts feeding it with impulses nurtured in the nursery of the brain views from all corners resound the same note in their ears giving additional strength and intensifying the effect of the environment further’.(SDG-160)

The ‘past’ being referred to and which is to be demolished is this network, of impressions, complexities and biases, which have rendered the inner being wholly opaque and its reality totally obscured so that we feel totally foreign to our own ‘Selves’.

Now let us come to the anchor, the key pin to which the network is firmly attached and when that key pin is pulled out and thrown by the side, the whole network falls off along with it. We can think of as a near analogy, a framed picture hanging from the nail fixed to the wall. When the nail is pulled out, the picture frame comes loose in the hand along with the nail. That nail, key pin, according to my thinking, is the ‘I’ consciousness and the ‘wall’ being the Ultimate Ground and the ‘picture with all its complex and colourful sceneries with persons thereon considered variously related to the subject’ is the individual network interwoven through the feeling of ‘I’ and the attachments with things and persons constituting the different links and inter connections of varying strengths, ‘the juice or cementing factor of ‘mine’’ constituting the strength.

Hence, if one wants to peep into the ‘Reality’ hidden in his own bosom and which has been obscured by the aforesaid network created by the mechanisms already described in some detail, one has to deal with the ‘I’ in a very realistic, cool and clinical manner as if we are doing this operation of shattering the network or as we are terming it ‘demolishing the past’ on ‘some one else’.

It must however be kept in mind that ‘I’ cannot be destroyed, it can only be tamed, totally subdued- (abhudiat), the human etiquette as described by the Master- or properly modulated as something totally subordinated to the will of the Supreme Master/Divine, totally prepared to extinguish itself entirely in Him forever and functioning as the truest expression of the Divine for the Divine.

We also gratefully acknowledge here that but for the system of Sriramchandra’s Rajayoga of Pranahuti assisted meditation and the invaluable irrepayable services of a competent guide and the Master’s grace and support, the problem of ego would remain as an impenetrable barrier to the Ultimate imperience and ‘Life in It’, as its solution has evaded even the most dedicated, resolute and otherwise competent saints of renown of all lands, times and climes. When Master speaks of the state of Tam, the Complete Ignorance’ He says even the greatest saints of the past though thirsting for It remained short of the ‘Mark’.

The Master identifies the problem of ‘I’ and also gives His own inimitable positive approach to its solution. I consider it significant that the quotation below appears just ahead of the topic of study!

‘The ‘I’ consciouness remains far and near..there is a common error..they think ‘I’ to be an enemy. That is negative attachment which makes it hard and impossible…it becomes stronger by our own thought force brought about by concentration. Try to forget the ‘I’.’(SDG-162)

All the practicants of PAM have imperienced fairly often, the condition of ‘nothingness’ in which what we know as ‘mind’ disappears and along with that the ‘experiencing and witnessing entity referred to as the ‘I’’ also vanishes being another thought construct. Serious and repeated contemplation of the implication of the imperience of ‘nothingness’ helps in the thinning out of the ‘I’ and our getting freed from its ‘illusory dominance’ over our thought processes, feelings and actions. We also realize progressively that ‘past’ and ‘future’ are created by the activity of the ‘mind’ and when it ceases they also collapse.

The ‘tense’ past or present makes us ‘tense’! and ‘time’, the root of ‘tense’, is also a notion at best, though having certainly great utilitarian value in the planning and organization of our life and its varied activities mundane and spiritual. But according to many discerning thinkers of the past and present it does not have any fundamental and existential significance.

In fact for the one who has the good fortune of being well established in the condition of ‘nothingness’, time as experienced by those conditioned by the ‘past’ and the ‘future’, that is those under the spell of the ‘mind’, does not exist; by the same token one cannot get established in that state unless the ‘demolition of the past’ has occurred in him as the first step.

Generally it is believed that the ‘past’ influences the ‘present’ which in turn is said to influence the ‘future’. This is the causal connection. As we are conscious beings endowed with ability to experience pain as well as pleasure and also have the faculty of memory, we form the vasanas and ruchi and keep the memory of the same relating to the varied experiences. This taste and memory of taste either positive or negative generate the desires pushing us ever into the never ending cycle of action-reaction that is samsara. Hence, ‘demolition of past’ should in effect mean that our present is unencumbered by the aforesaid desires caused by the pile/burden of samskars. As it has been described elsewhere and not repeated here, we simply note that the samskars get wiped out through the process of boga (praarabdha the ones which have become ripe for fruition causing this life) and being fried up (sanchitaa those accumulated from earlier lives) so that just as fried up seeds do not germinate, the fried up impressions are rendered ineffective in causing action along their lines. (For the present we are not considering the problem of the aagaami impressions).

Master has referred to such persons as those enjoying the quite advanced stage of spirituality known as ‘beej-dagdh’.

‘They have already passed through the stage of death(in its usual sense as the end of a particular type of material form)bringing into effect the negation of self, which in other words means freedom from the effect of materiality in which a man is deeply engrossed. The result is that while having their physical body intact they begin to feel dead and gone. This is a particular type of spiritual state which may be attained after sufficient progress. This is known as the state of beej-dagdh’.(Sruti-64/5)

The above gives the criterion for testing whether the ‘demolition of the past’ has in fact occurred. While discussing the question ‘whether the mahatmas have their minds shattered’, the Master makes the following interesting observation, ‘Your question as to whether the mahatmas have their mind shattered or destroyed is a peculiar one. I believe only a made-up thing can be shattered. A made-up thing is that which is covered with grosser layers. If a building is demolished the floor remains unaffected thereby. Now judge yourself whether the mind is really destroyed or only transformed. I call it regulation of mind which means only the removing of the structure built upon it. But if one likes to dispense with it altogether he must then necessarily be relieved of the root-force which is the basis of existence-kshob. Nothing in nature loses existence; only form and function are changed from time to time.(SS-357)

The above shows that the end result of the ‘demolition of the past’, the past here taken to mean the ‘made-up superstructure’, is the regulated state of the mind on which the past impressions, complexities and biases have lost their hold and the thus ‘freed mind’ has been brought to its original condition of being akin to the first mind of God/kshob. The kshob as indicated above is the foundation, the root force the basis of all existence (which obviously cannot be destroyed).

What has been effected is the transformation in the nature of the individual mind from its current spoiled state to what it was in its pristine condition. Now it is as if we have become totally dead to the ‘past’ as if it did not exist at all! We see that this theme of ‘destroying the old edifice and erecting a new edifice in its place without brick and mortar’ (excluding the poisonous effects of materiality) is taken up by the Master while He deals with divinization in His message ‘Problem and its solution’.

When the ‘past’ is destroyed or made totally ineffective by the ‘collapsing of the palace walls’, ‘the chapter of demolition comes to a close and the ground has been prepared for the work of divinity namely divinization of the system after removing its devilization, which had been brought about by the misutilization of the primary thought power inherited by him (man).

In another context the Master indicates the state that which ‘remains after the fading away of the impressions’ and in which the senses having merged become synonymous with that state. In this condition alone one can be said ‘to be diverted towards Him in the true sense’(IB-38). This shows that the demolition of the past (fading away of the impressions or their ceasing to have any effect on our thinking, feeling and actions) should be a closed chapter before we get ahead on the path towards total divinization.

In practical terms the demolition of the past, the past being the accumulated impurities in the form of mala, vikshepa and avarana, is accomplished in our system through the individual cleaning which utilizes the ‘original power of purity in the form of human will’ and the active and continued assistance from the trainer through the process of Pranahuti.

I close this essay with the Master’s exhortation and which at the same time is also the practical method suggested for the demolition of the past and gaining what lies beyond, namely, ‘One must go on reducing the activities shaking off all the superfluities that have entered his being for the purpose of shattering his individual network (demolition of the past) and assuming the purest state one has to finally acquire (the chapter which follows).This is possible only when he associates himself with one who has shattered his own network and has had enough swimming in the infinite.’(IB-38)