The Trinity and Realization of Enlightenment and Liberation
Secondly we are led to the notion of the so-called trinity. There is Vedically not only a threefold division of nature in the sense of the three natural basic qualities of goodness (light), passion (movement) and ignorance (slowness) and a spirit in between our ego outside and our soul inside. There is also the opposition of the personal and impersonal in between of which we have a local existence. To progress in spirituality means to transcend as also to find liberation. These two matters are not quite the same, apart from constituting two forms of progress. At a higher level of service approaching the personal level of goodness, soulfulness and blissfulness we find liberation in devotional service. Progressing spiritually though in transcendence one finds enlightenment in meditation in a state of truthfulness (or also eternity), consciousness and happiness, three essential qualities of the Supreme Person. Thus we have a complication of threefoldness to remember in attainment. In devotional service one emancipates and builds association and in meditation one, turned away from the world, transcends to find enlightenment in His beyond. One way is in need of the other for He, Our Ideal Self, is the Lord Complete Present Inside and Outside.
When we speak of the person, we have, from a gnostic point of view - the point of view of knowledge concerning our spiritual self-realization - a certain insight as for the structure of what we call the person. There is the awareness of ego, identified with a certain form. There is the notion of a spirit that stands for the way a person looks at - and minds about - the world and himself and we have the notion of a soul, the true self that is the inner person of conscience and constancy. This trinity is a kind of topography of the person reasoning from the outside inwards.
The first notion of ego is closely associated with our material position and type of body. Ego is the seat of our I-awareness as far as it is concerned with our body. This is necessary, for we have to take care of this most precious gift we received from our parents. To have a human body is a blessing. With a human body one has a much greater capacity of free choice. We as human beings are not only determined by instinct at an animal level for sleeping, eating, mating and defending our material interests. As human beings we have something extra we call reason. This reason has the capacity to motivate us for so-called higher causes. We may rise to the level of superior gods or god-like people but also have the option of degrading by the same reason to far more worse behavior than that of animals, considering the degree to which we are capable of creating hell in wars and other destructive confrontations. The greater we can be, the worse we can become also.
One may wonder why we have ended up in a human body and not in another one. One could just as well have an animal body or even a plant body. Is it chance or fate? Or is it associated with our free will and a result of our past actions and desires? Were there previous lives? Our genes certainly reflect this and thus we without any doubt carry a great load of historical experience and associated culture with us. Surely the interest of ego brings blessings and curses, refined states of being and diseased states also, because free will implies we can make choices that animals cannot make. We can engage capacities far beyond the possibilities in the animal or plant kingdom. These capacities seem to be in demand of a certain type of control to make sure they are not abused. We do not want to be the victim of the ignorant use of our human capacity. So, from the concept of ego we arrive at the concept of fear based upon ignorance.We also arrive therewith at the concept of law and a government to regulate the law to make sure we can live a safe and secure life. In this context we see how ignorance and fear are associated with notions of legal representatives, state officials and implications of having laws. Because of conflicting interests there can be much conflict between people and between societies in this respect. This is all the product of ego.
Taking responsibility for the lives of our physical bodies there is uncertainty about what behavior would be proper with our human capacity and there are no clear-cut answers as to how to control the fear and assure us a safe and happy life. Therefore this department of personal ego has its position at the same level of the mode of ignorance. Ego constitutes a natural state, it is inevitable, but it is not sufficient for respecting the person and finding solutions for the problems mentioned. There might be a divine quality to our ego, one can attribute all kinds of honors to the ego, but there is inevitably also a shadow side to this sense of greatness, imagined or not. Much of warfare is a consequence of honor being hurt, leading to even more hurt to our honor. Honor may escalate in a negative spiral of mutual destruction. Ego can be very dangerous and fear in this respect is thus justified. Just the fact that we may have pain and all will die someday is enough to assure us of a deep rooted existential fear we cannot shake off that easily. So we have to consider what we need more in respect of the person, as we said.
The second department of the person we find on an inward, or upward, course. The world around us is, simply stated, dangerous and will never free us from our fears. Ego means cutting the world in two halves of self-interest at the one hand and everything opposing that interest at the other; there are friends and enemies. What can we do about it? Common wisdom speaks of enlightened self-interest, the golden rule and empathy. These on themselves are disconnected notions also machines can employ, books may advertise and robots can be programmed for. They need to cohere. To remedy this we have the concept of spirit as the second realm of the living person when we turn inwards away from the material world full of opposites that forces choices upon us. Some might say 'that is bad', 'that is escapism', 'face the challenges of ego and do not be a looser'. True, one should take such notice, but still one cannot constantly live at the outside for the sake of the outside. Such a perspective we call an -ism. In this case materialism. The x-ism implies a certain split of mind. The denial of a portion of reality that would not belong to us, goes at the cost of our mental health. A bad spirit, associated with poor mental health, implies we have large areas of life banned from our consciousness, which may happen for numerous reasons. Ego breeds this kind of banishing constantly and we should take care not to be victimized by it and become a fragmented, damaged and distorted personality.
The interests of ego must not be denied, but the inner person also needs time and space, attention and care. A healthy spirit is a spirit not afraid of dualities, a spirit not getting caught in conflicting matters and -isms. A healthy spirit is a concept of mindfulness implying action also counting with the deeper layers of our person. One willfully has to engage in a balancing act to be mentally healthy. The realism, pragmatism, materialism and -isms alike need to be counterbalanced and compensated. We do not fight -isms in that countering or cling to one of them when we are healthy. Being healthy, we have learned to live with them by actively opposing e.g. realism with mysticism, pragmatism with naturalism and materialism with holism. For every poison there is an antidote. One can be convinced of a spirit moved by mysticism, naturalism and holism, just to discover that the fight by such a stance is not over. An antidote might be a cure, but you do not ingest it every day.
Spirit is found at the same level as the mode of creativity, of passion, in counterbalancing and action in covering different fields of action to find time and place for these necessary movements of personal engagement. Spirit - and spirituality - thus implies an active engagement of the person. Spirit is a motivator, it contains a plan of action in relating to the world consciously without being seized by the world and dragged along its muddy paths of ego opposites. This spirit of mental health is just as natural as the mind and engagement of ego is. The mode of passion identified with it, is just as inevitable as the mode of ignorance. That natural quality cannot be denied without damaging your mental health. Denial of this multifarious spirit - so different for all people because of its many determinants and outcomes - will even ruin or block the development of your social interaction and personal relations, your communication skills and other personal positive character traits. Your entire personal integrity is jeopardized in denial of the need for passion, action and movement through social and inner fields of action...
One simply needs a personal choice of spirituality, of developing a free spirit, to be mentally healthy, and much of our modern neuroses - our pain and uncertainty about the whispering devil and angel on our shoulders - can be explained on that account. Missing a certain spiritual reserve one is doomed to be a slave and victim of the material world full of ego in conflict. But passion is not the panacea, there is a down-side to passion too, just as with the mode of ignorance. With passion frustration can be a pitfall. Suddenly one may turn as a leaf on a tree and change into an angry demon discovering that one's passion in case of frustration - which will also inevitable occur - misses the proper regulation, restraint and moral guideline. With a certain passion one is not directly programmed for restraint and self control, on the contrary, one is rather motivated as a rebel against the constraints imposed upon us from the outside. This lack of integrity, this problem of missing an inner grip and plan of progress in life, of immaturity in fact or a lack of wisdom, is associated with the difference between lust and love, a theme we will return to often in these Inspirations.
The third and final department of the person when we direct our attention inward concerns the mode of goodness. Goodness is the true nature of the pure existence of the soul. The quality of goodness constitutes the gate of access to that soul, the kernel of self-awareness. In that quality we find stability and happiness. This level of existence , the soul, constitutes essentially another dimension next to the three time determined dimensions of the universe. This is the position where we realize our causal agent, our True Self and Original Person who opposes the world of time with an eternal presence. Our souls are not time-bound and therefore called eternal and - logically in line with this notion - are claimed as being able to continue their existence even after the death of our physical body. The position of the soul free from time, ignorance and the anger rising from the mode of passion, is an ideal position one may realize after some meditation. But it is most difficult to occupy that position permanently for ego, mind, bewilderment and passion draw the soul constantly away from there; it is difficult to change that temporary realization into an enduring practice. Even though a refreshing effect may last for some time after an effective meditation upon the position of the Supreme Soul of Happiness and Goodness, this effect quickly wears off because of one's material involvement of the spirit and the ego, not even mentioning the problem of thinking that one, occupying His position of Him, as an individual, materially conditioned soul, oneself would be the Supreme Personality - another notorious pitfall.
The spirit can be reformed though for a better focus upon the soul. The spirit can also be trained for a better motivation of focussing inwards from the position of the ego away from matter. If one succeeds in developing such a trained condition, one may speak of self-remembrance. In fact one enters here a domain of training oneself in a process of emancipation for a total reform of character. Firmly being fixed in wisdom this can be attained, but that is not as easy as it sounds, for wisdom is the type of knowledge one does not get attached to. And thus its conditions for endurance are easily forgotten and neglected. It demands, among other matters, a regular practice of study and exercise, of diet and scheduling one's life, to acquire also association with others in this purpose. In the end the personal realities of ego, spirit and soul, with the person wrestling to arrive at a full realization of his personal integrity with these qualities, will transform into realities of - respectively - levels of an impersonal, localized and personal realization of the Absolute Self of Remembrance (see picture).
These are the levels by which one gradually arrives at self-realization, by which one emancipates and finds liberation from one's materially being determined in developing a culture of devotion. Next to this liberation there is also that what we call enlightenment. Irrespective the level one is situated on, we always must be able to find quickly by meditation relief from the dualities of the material world. Only by meditation one succeeds in this. And thus there is the 'vertical' movement towards a higher level that we call liberation and a 'horizontal' movement through different positions at each level we call enlightenment. These positions we call the position of time (the interaction of the three qualities), matter (the topography from the outside towards the inside) and the person (the three characteristics of the meditating person). The purpose of the 'vertical' elevating direction of liberation consists of developing goodness, of developing 'the awareness of soul' or conscience and of developing blissfulness in emancipation. The purpose of the horizontal transcending movement by rising above matters in meditation consists of developing a sense of truth or pure and sustainable being, of developing consciousness or pure discrimination and knowledge and finally of developing health in a physical and mental sense or happiness, what together in India is called sat, cit and ananda. Happiness and blissfulness, the rapture of happiness, constitute the overlap, the common ground, of liberation and enlightenment. The three characteristics of liberation and the three characteristics of enlightenment together constitute the integrity of the Person Always leading Us, the coherence of the transcendence in meditation and the elevation in emancipation we always strive for. But what happens exactly at each level when we meditate and serve the cause of our development?
On the first impersonal level the ego will have to learn to find enlightenment with, or reconciliation in, a vision of the truth. An important aspect of the notion of truth is that it applies to all places where one can be. In the interest of truth we must be free from illusions, free from mistaken notions that we all too easy acquire with the changing nature of the basic material qualities. That interest factually entails a pure, scientific and philosophical, more or less value free, impersonal awareness, in a state of pure being. The first level of self-realization does not offer directly any room for an inner world different from an outside world. With our I-awareness, our ego, we, finding enlightenment in meditation, are then first of all, thus thinking scientifically, not as personal as the term ego does suggest. The ego concerns only a principle of identification with one's vehicle of time that is the body, and that body on itself, functions on a basis of natural mechanisms where we, just like the animals, have no immediate thoughts about, that body instinctually speaks entirely for itself. But one possesses a body and is not that body. That basic insight, which develops from within the constant presence of the true self, the soul, constitutes the beginning of the self-realization process at this level. As soon as one arrives at the knowledge of this truth, the identification vanishes and the ego transforms from a false imagined one into a true and truthful I-awareness, at the next local level. With the truth as the engine, ignorance then transforms into passion or a sense of life and movement, ego transforms into a pure liberated spirit and the truth itself of a pure presence ultimately transforms into a purified consciousness.
On the next, third level, the local level of realization, we are less generally and more personally involved. The spirit there in meditation must arrive at consciousness, at a certain awareness of a stable personal presence that is more than that of the body alone. That awareness constitutes a perfect point of meditation between the personal omnipresent soul and the full realization on the first level of the complete reality of the unified impersonal Self of in fact the entire universe. Such a local position in between the general and personal, therefore entails a fusion of a great, more that you alone, cosmic consciousness and the individual consciousness. For the spirit that fusion leads, after due turmoil in passion, with the energy released by letting go of the ego, to an awareness of being elevated above the relative truth. That awareness constitutes the gateway for rising above the personal local boundaries. That elevation in consciousness at the local level awakens the function of conscience and creates connectedness with others. This second phase of emancipation to a higher awareness in between the personal and impersonal, provides an acute awareness of one's surroundings, of one's here and now. The spirit moves therein from the domain of divisions and divisiveness in the direction of an elevated self. For the spirit in the emancipation process it is of prime importance to develop a stable consciousness. If one succeeds therein, one can enjoy that as a perfection of one's mental and physical health, a good harmony of thought and feeling. One stirs therewith into action in a spiritual and also physical sense, one awakens from one's material slumber, there is an end to the sleepwalking of being dictated by the engagement of the senses.
On the next level one attains from the local spirit the realization of the soul. One then reaches the highest personal level of self-realization. That soul being elevated above the ego and the spirit, depends on the mode of goodness that, provided being properly put into practice, stabilizes the realization. The happiness of the Supreme Person is then within reach. With the goodness and the presence of the Person of Transcendence, one arrives at insight and knowledge of the person one is oneself in relation to the Person of Happiness, Knowledge and Eternity. One realizes one's unique constitutional position of delivering service to that exaltedness. The Supreme Person constitutes the final integrity with all its mysterious and inscrutable perfection, that fully covers the realization of each. From Him one may have a glimpse of the truth of eternal happiness with tears running down one's cheek, with insights in one's personal nature beyond the life one leads and feelings of special grace and bliss. But it is impossible to retain permanently this state of a mystical experience of unity and be the full of Him in this, one can only step by step by acting in goodness work towards a greater stability and realization in this respect. The result will be a happier life, and that happiness constitutes the first motive of the soul. This is the non-material happiness, the spiritual happiness, that is the purpose of our existence, that is the purpose of all our activities. Having forgotten this is what defines all our problems. As strangers to the Soul we are lost in the material world.
This entire course of emancipation and liberation in devotion and of enlightenment and rising above matters in meditation, by which we arrive from ignorance at realization of the ideal Person, is what one might call real progress as opposed to false concepts of progress in the sense of acquiring more wealth, status or power. The purpose of our story is to achieve this better sense of truth, this better state of consciousness and this more enduring type of happiness step by step, by motivating with stories of wisdom, the ego for service, the spirit for surrender and the soul for its final and original enduring connectedness. We therewith will find the work we were always looking for, we will therewith find cooperation with others who also found that work free from karma and we will belong to the liberated souls of devotion who are part of the Person Outside as also the Person Inside. We will therewith turn back home to the Supreme Person who is our original nature.
Source for this Inspiration:
S.B. Canto 1, Chapter 2