Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sanatana Dharma:The Perennial Philosophy

Since I re-started my practice of Transcendental Meditation I've found that my emotional life has become more calm and my mind is less agitated by small things. I've been more open to letting things go and I'm less concerned about the "correctness" or "orthodoxy"  of my spiritual life. The Bible has become a book again, and not a divine oracle!! Christianity has lost a lot of its shine, and I find it difficult to relate to the image of God or Jesus that is portrayed by most Christian teachers and writers. I don't view this as a negative by the way. I think Christianity needs to be reformed yet again. With more focus on developing the mind of Christ and less emphasis on the worshipping of Christ.

So, TM has become my salvation from this world. Not a religion, but an experience that has ACTUAL impact on my life. Of course, TM does engender some concepts that lead directly to ancient Vedic knowledge and the application of Vedanta Philosophy.

In my early days as a spiritual seeker - I discovered a Sanskrit term: Sanatana Dharma, which in some scholarly circles is identified as the original term for Hinduism. Literally translated Sanatana Dharma means "Eternal Truth," or "The Truth that holds everything together!" It's not Hinduism - but rather the same truth that underlies all religions prior to interpretation and classification by the human mind.

Sanatana Dharma - The Eternal Truth, I've always liked that term; it goes to the very core of the foundation of truth -  the precursor to all religions and philosophies if you like. 

If I have to claim allegiance to any "brand" of the truth - I would say that Sanatana Dharma is my preference.

Sanatana Dharma refers to that which is unchangeable and constant behind all interpretations and definitions of the truth. The reality beyond any belief system.

One of my favorite descriptions of Sanatana Dharma comes from Aldous Huxley's brilliant introduction to the Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God, translated by  Swami  Prabhavananda  and Christopher Isherwood: 

The Minimum Working Hypothesis

"At the core of the Perennial Philosophy we find four fundamental doctrines. 

First: the phenomenal world of matter and of individualized consciousness--the world of things and animals and men and even gods--is the manifestation of a Divine Ground within which all partial realities have their being, and apart from which they would be non-existent. 

Second: human beings are capable not merely of knowing about the Divine Ground by inference; they can also realize its existence by a direct intuition, superior to discursive reasoning. This immediate knowledge unites the knower with that which is known. 

Third: man possesses a double nature, a phenomenal ego and an eternal Self, which is the inner man, the spirit, the spark of divinity within the soul. It is possible for a man, if  he so desires, to identify himself with the spirit and therefore with the Divine Ground, which is of the same or like nature with the spirit. 

Fourth: man's life on earth has only one end and purpose: to identify himself with his eternal Self and so to come to unitive knowledge of the Divine Ground." 

This Perennial Philosophy can be applied to all spiritual paths and traditions - it is the pathless reality behind all human interpretation and definition.

One of the results of the practice of Transcendental Meditation is the ability to perceive the Divine Ground that Huxley speaks of in his writing. The Divine Ground is seen as the boundless consciousness that is beyond relative existence - the source of all thought; the origin of all perceived individuality. That which exists as the single source of all diverse life and expression throughout creation. It is our natural state and quite normal, while at the same time, mysterious and boundless. There is within it the combination of humanity and divinity. 

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi refers to the Divine Ground as Being:

"Man lives in the sanctuary of God. His life is in love, in bliss, inwisdom, in God-consciousness. He lives in the realm of universalexistence. He moves on earth and he lives in the land of God, in thedivine ground of Being far above human vision and far beyond humanthought………."

Experience shows that Being is the essential, basic nature of the mind; but, since It commonly remains in tune with the senses projecting outwards toward the manifested realms of creation, the mind misses or fails to appreciate its own essential nature, just as the eyes are unable to see themselves. ”

― Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and the Art of Living

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