Maintaining Dharma: Aligning Towards the Light (part I)
by Igor Kufayev
QUESTION: In your webinar about shame, you were talking about how in the end, every experience is love, and bliss, and light. And I really loved this. But life gave me a new boss, and he is a devotee of this guy who did The Secret. So he is completely into positive thinking all the time. And this is very challenging for me, because I want to be finished with positive thinking. I’m very, very tired of this. In the Bhagavad Gita, there’s a part where Arjuna looks into Krishna’s mouth, and first he sees the beauty of this creation, and it’s very beautiful. Then he sees the bad side, and he cannot face it. So my question is how to face the pure negativity of this creation, or to perceive it as light?
IGOR: The thing is that we cannot perceive things as they are. We can only perceive things as we are. This is the first understanding. This understanding serves as an adjustment. If one somehow sees through tainted lenses what good and bad represent, and how we apply this understanding – this polarity – then this may bring a sense of deep, emotional discontent. Because we do perceive wickedness and injustice. We perceive a lot of things in others and in ourselves. When it happens in relation to ourselves, then this can be seen as a sort of a purifying process. It has an element of acknowledgement–of accepting and not denying. We could even say that the growth of the psyche and of psychological development includes this. We can observe it in our children and grandchildren; and we can observe it if we cast back our attention to how we encountered this ourselves when we were young. We know that what was okay at the age of seven is no longer okay at the age of fifteen. There’s much more awareness presumably, hopefully, as we grow older. What may be excused to a five year old will not then be excused to a nine year old; and this is a very normal state of affairs. In the same way, the psyche also grows continuously. Some of the portions of our psychological wholeness may remain hidden from view. So we act, but we don’t always have access to how it really is, until there’s more awareness–until there’s more consciousness.
So far, this is in relation to ourselves. But what about what we perceive in others, and in the world? Consider the Tantric axiom, “I am the world, and the world is me,” or “I am Self, and the world is One and the same.” This may bring on such challenging perspectives as, “Well, if I perceive this, then I perceive it on account of being able to recognize it, and that means that my perception is tainted somehow.” But this is where the distinction needs to be clearly made. A distinction in the sense that, at every respective level of awareness, there are values, corresponding values. And these corresponding values, if you will, hold their value only at these respective levels. So if everything is seen through the nondual eye of Oneness, then everything is reconciled there, and it’s impossible to speak about good or bad. It simply doesn’t make any sense. Therefore, this is often spoken of as purified vision: as that untainted vision of Oneness when we behold the world as our own Self, in Totality. And in that, these qualities no longer play themselves out the way they do at other respective levels of creation and other respective levels of Consciousness. So this distinction needs to be made.
You mentioned being tired of positive thinking and asked how to face the negativity in the world. In a way, this is a question of culture as well. One way or the other, we cannot speak about this without bringing in this element of culture, of culturing. If we just dismiss this, then we only give an overall blanket of a unifying quality where everything is reconciled, where every quality is reabsorbed back into that state of Oneness where it is undifferentiated. Of course, the vantage point here is the human being. And yet, who is the human being? The human being is nothing other than Awareness in disguise. From the vantage point of Awareness, there’s nothing other than Awareness. There are many, many different points of view toward the Sun, as the shining heavenly body. This planet has a perspective, that planet has a perspective, right? We could also say that there are different perspectives throughout the day; and then in the evening, the Sun is no longer there at all. We also have the reflected awareness, or reflected rays, of the Sun shining and bouncing off the surface of the Moon. But just for a moment, imagine there is no perspective for the Sun itself. From the point of view of the Sun, everything is nothing other than its own Luminosity. Everything is reconciled—absolutely everything–into that original, molten state of Luminosity.
But then, we also have this point of view of actions and interactions, and this is where the question of culture comes in. Therefore, in integral traditions, in traditions that have withstood the test of time, there are different levels. There are different levels of application. These spiritual texts have to be applicable to anyone with any level of consciousness. So if the simple folk read the text, they will be instructed in a way that would assist them in living their life. When a learned scholar reads it, it will also instruct them, and so forth.
Within these lofty nondual traditions, such as in the Brahma Sutras, nothing is spoken about negativity or positivity. It’s a philosophical doctrine. In many other scriptures you read, there’s nothing that you will ever encounter about the psychological repercussions of how this or that sits. Because it has a very different purpose. Hopefully, we somehow understand that these treasures of wisdom, these pearls or diamonds of wisdom, fall into the hands of those who are highly evolved. Highly evolved here means cultured: cultured, in the sense of knowing about these universally acknowledged virtues.
To secure that, there are these myths, this lore, that speaks of creation where everything is being held in a state of balance. So obviously, at the subtler level of creation, there are some forms of energy. Let’s say we speak of the Hindu tradition, or the basis of the Hindu tradition — the Vedic sciences. Hinduism as a religion is very rich in a sense, because it’s a democratic way of choosing one’s own relationship with the divine. And within that tradition, there is this very rich lore. There are these creatures known as devas and asuras. Devas are these shining divine beings. They’re the beings of light. And asuras are the beings of darkness—it’s as simple as that. And they constantly quarrel; they constantly battle; they’re constantly in a state of war. At the beginning of creation, somewhere at the very, very early phases of creation, there is this myth where both were involved in churning the ocean of Being by holding a gigantic serpent, Shesha. Asuras held it at the tail, and the devas held it at the head. And they churned the ocean of creation for that nectar of immortality. So as the legend goes, they did this job under the supervision of the aspect of divine intelligence responsible for preservation, known as Vishnu. Vishnu promised that if the asuras behave in this enterprise, then they will get the amritam. But because the job of Vishnu is to preserve evolution, he knows that evolution can only be preserved by these so-called positive divine beings. So at the moment the nectar reappeared, gathered to the surface, he deflected the attention – or somehow the attention of the asuras was on something else – and the devas took the amritam and ran away with it. So of course, the asuras were very upset because Vishnu broke his promise. And they became vicious with their revenge. One can imagine. They did a tremendous job, they were working very hard – okay, they are beings of darkness, but hey, where’s the fairness?!
So these myths, this lore, contains the profound wisdom of the way the universal laws are arranged at a certain level. In a way, if you really trace this attentively, there’s a certain karma created, even by these shinier beings. They are nice beings, but they are very involved in an act of treachery. Boom boom! They did the work together, but then they gathered the goods and ran away with it. See? So you have to pay. Karmically, one way or the other, you have to pay! So this creation myth speaks of these underlying structures, where even at that subtler level, there are these beings of light and beings of darkness. Furthermore, if you apply this understanding, that every scriptural reference, every myth, somehow has to be applicable to us human beings, it’s not far from this possibility that these devas and asuras actually are the ones that make up that which we consider ourselves to be.
In other words, the human being itself is a gathering place of extremely refined energies. I mean let’s face it! Yes, we all love trees. And some people say, “give human rights to cats! Or dogs.” And what about the monkeys, horses, whales and dolphins? Of course, every creature is lovely. But there’s no creature like the human being, with such a degree of perceptual capacity. Let’s face it. I have yet to hear monkeys compose a requiem with all of their intelligence. When we see monkeys putting boxes together and climbing to get a banana, we are almost ecstatic about their intelligence. It’s also peculiar to us humans to project those human qualities on anything we look at. This is not to belittle, in any way, any other forms of creation. But it is here, in the human being, that Consciousness emulates absolutely everything. Humans can swim, run, fly, and a gazillion other things – paint, compose, perceive, and do a lot of other things just for the sake of it.
So this human arena, this gathering, must be a very, very important symposium. There’s something else going on. It’s not a dry affair. Any physiological explanation of how the human organism functions is a pale replica of a sliver of what’s actually going on. One perspective is that in fact, the human being is that fertile ground where the amritam is being churned. From this perspective, the creation myth is not necessarily something that took place at a point in time in the past but rather, is taking place here and now. So that ocean of being is being churned here, as we speak. And who here will end up having that froth, having that cream, is another story. So in other words, this is where the loftiest of perennial traditions, although monistic in their essence, all speak of the necessity of maintaining the dharma. And dharma can only be maintained by virtuous acts. Therefore, we align ourselves with that which is inherently good – that which is inherently expressed, let’s say, as a certain code of conduct, as certain commandments, as certain laws. Because these laws support that foundational ground where the beings of light are being nourished and given, if you will, preference, in terms of the evolutionary spin.
This is where, maybe, modern spirituality stumbles and struggles–and by modern, I’m speaking of nonduality—because it doesn’t know what to do with values. It doesn’t know how virtues fit in. On one hand, from the point of view of Oneness, there’s no such thing as “this is better than that…,” because it’s simply inconsistent with what this is all about. At best, we could speak about this with the understanding that it’s for the sake of playful sport. So the challenge is in that playful sport—otherwise, it would not be sport at all. It has to be entertaining. It has to have the crescendo; it has to have the catharsis. People are bewildered, of course, with various examples of hardship. When I talk about ananda, people ask, “What about all the calamities? What about Auschwitz, what about genocides, what about all that?” But this is, in a way, a test for that intelligence as well. It is a test for the intelligence to find oneself being confronted with a paradox, and yet to remain in a state of non-judgment. How can one be confronted with an extraordinary, even terrifying, display of disparity and yet not be pulled towards judgment? Yet this is the maturity of the psyche. When someone is psychologically able to face these paradoxes, we could presuppose that one is fit to really see how things all sit together.
Now you’ve expressed a certain sense of irritation towards positive thinking. Positive thinking, in itself, is a tiptoeing, whereas one should walk with feet firmly planted on the ground – with full contact. Tiptoeing is a very unsteady, a very unbalanced state. And how long can you do that? You get tired and you fall down anyway. So positive thinking needs to be understood more in terms of what the creation myth represents. Maybe we could mention here some of these Christian sayings, such as “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” What does this mean? It’s not a state of denial of the existence of the heartbreaking display of injustice in the world. It’s not a state of denial. But if it comes from a place of a conscious decision to align towards the light, to align towards the goodness, one can transform the most negative energies within oneself. And ultimately speaking, all traditions also have, within their mythologies, within their lore, these final encounters, like the final temptations of Christ, or the last temptations of the Buddha, which are canonical examples of being faced with one’s ultimate shadow, with the opposing energy of that which we now consider universally as goodness.
So in short, to make it simple, unless we really face the Lucifer within, we’re beating about the bush; we’re going around in circles. We’re not really facing anything within, because that reconciliation can only happen here. If I am able to face the utmost evil within myself, I can face it in the world, and not be distraught, destroyed, swayed, or converted by it. Why? Because I am fully aware that it’s a byproduct of my own Awareness. At a certain level of creation, it’s required. Why? That’s another story. This is how different traditions deal with this. Being spiritual, or aligning oneself towards serious spiritual work, begins with being confronted with paradoxes. Avoiding paradoxes means one is avoiding real work. So it’s facing these paradoxes where the breakthroughs begin to happen.
So how to face the negativity? You face it squarely, as it is, without drawing the line of judgment, even if you may express your opinion in casual discourse. At some point in the political history of the United States, when George W. Bush became president, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called him a rakshasa on a televised program for thousands and thousands of people to see. He just called him a rakshasa. Rakshasas are like asuras – these are really not very nice creatures. They constantly fight with beings of light; whenever puja is being made, they throw some rubbish at it. Some people may then have said, “Oh my god, how can Maharishi, in a state of Unity, call someone a rakshasa?” Well at that level of speech, at that level of expression, it felt fitting. But if you ask Maharishi, in private, “Is he really a rakshasa?”, he would say, “No, he’s nothing other than Brahman, because there’s nothing other than Brahman.” But imagine if Maharishi would say, “Oh George W. Bush, you know, he bombed this country on false pretenses, but he is Brahman.” It wouldn’t make any sense!
So this is where “culturing” comes in. We have to culture ourselves. A few years ago, this question was posed to me: “If all this is Oneness, what’s there to do?” So I said, “it’s virtues and vigilance.” So know that it’s all One, but build virtues and be vigilant—that’s our job. It’s our job to maintain that balance, so that the nectar doesn’t end up in the hands of the asuras. Because we live in a time where there is perhaps this possibility happening that in a lot of human beings, the asuric realm has already won. In a lot of human beings, the asuras already are enjoying the victory. We don’t need to have David Icke telling us about the reptilian race cohabiting the planet with some extraterrestrial race. It’s simply happening on the level of energy. Yes, this field, this human field – this field of dharma – this is where these forces of light and darkness meet and collide. You see? In the philosophical scriptures, the Tantric scriptures, the structure is around the dialogue between Paravati and Shiva. But in other scriptures, like these Hindu-based scriptures, they have their leitmotif in the form of a battle. Whether it’s the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, there’s a final battle where all forces – the whole universe – are polarized. You cannot be neutral. So much is at stake that everything is mobilized. So this is not a trivial affair. Therefore, don’t worry about positive thinking as in, “Oh I have to maintain that positive thinking.” Align yourself towards the light, always. Align yourself towards the light. Know that the temptation toward the opposite of that is always there. Know that it’s always there because it’s energy; it’s a form of energy. But alignment is alliance. You see, you create this alliance. And like increases like.
End of part I…
– Igor Kufayev, excerpt from Q&A dialogue during the 5-day meditation immersion in Mallorca in November 2019.