This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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The yogi and supreme identity

One who has realized the Supreme Identity through Knowledge during life is said to be ‘delivered in this life,’ or jivan-mukta. This is the spiritual state of the yogi, as described by Shankaracharya:[1]

The yogi, whose intellect is perfect, contemplates all things as abiding in himself and thus, by the eye of Knowledge [jnana-chakshus or ‘intellectual intuition’], he perceives [that is to say he ‘conceives’ directly, as opposed to arriving at conclusions rationally or by discursive thought] that everything is Atma.

He knows that all contingent things are not different from Atma, and that apart from Atma there is nothing, ‘things differing simply in attribution, in accident, and in name, just as earthen vessels receive different names, although they are but different forms of earth’;[2] and thus he perceives that he himself is all things [since nothing is understood any long as ‘other’ than himself, in the same way that Aristotle could say in De Anima that ‘the soul is all that it knows.’]

When the accidents [subtle and gross manifestation] are suppressed [that is to say, understood to be relative and in this way illusory], the Muni [synonym of yogi] enters, with all beings [since they are not distinct from himself] into the all-pervading Essence [Atma].

We will interject here with a passage from Chuang Tzu, chap. 25, which runs:

Above all things is the Principle, common to all, containing and penetrating all, of which Infinity is the proper attribute, the only one by which It can be characterized, for It bears no name of Its own.

Continuing with Shankaracharya:

He is without [distinct] qualities and actionless [in the Far Eastern sense of ‘actionlessness’ or ‘actionless action’ in terms of wu-wei]; imperishable [akshara, not subject to dissolution], without volition; abounding in Bliss, immutable, without form; eternally free and pure [unable to be constrained, reached, or affected in any way by anything aside from himself, since external things are in fact not distinct from himself].

He is like Ether [Akasha], which is diffused everywhere and which pervades the exterior and interior of things simultaneously; he is incoruptible, imperishable; he is the same in all things [no modification affecting his identity], pure, impassible, invariable [in his essential immutability].

He is ‘the Supreme Brahma, which is eternal, pure, free, single, continually abounding in Bliss, without duality, Principle of all existence, knowing [although not in the sense of distinguishing between subject and object] and without end.

He is Brahma, after the possession of which there remains nothing to possess; after the enjoyment of whose Bliss there remains no felicity to be desired; and after the attainment of the Knowledge of which there remains no knowledge to be obtained.

He is Brahma, which once beheld [by the eye of Knowledge], no object is contemplated; being identified with which, no modification [birth or death] is experienced; which being perceived [not as an object or by faculty], there is nothing further to perceive [distinctive knowledge having been transcended].

He is Brahma, which is disseminated everywhere and throughout all things [since there is nothing outside It]:[3] in intermediate space, in that which is above and in that which is below [referring to the totality of the three worlds]; the Real, abounding in Bliss, without duality, indivisible and eternal.

He is Brahma, pronounced in the Vedanta to be absolutely distinct from that which It pervades [and which, on the contrary, is not distinct from It or at least only distinguishes itself from It in illusory mode] continually abounding in Bliss and without duality.

He is Brahma, by which are produced life [jiva], the inward sense [manas], the faculties of sensation and action [jnanendriyas and karmedriyas], and the elements [tanmatras and bhutas] which compose the manifested world [both gross and subtle].

He is Brahma, in which all things are united, upon which all actions depend [although Itself actionless]; that is why It is disseminated throughout all things [without being dispersed thereby].

He is Brahma, which is without size or dimension [unconditioned], without extension [being indivisible and without parts], without origin [eternal], incorruptible, without shape, without qualities [while nonetheless containing them all in principle], without assignment or attribute of any kind.

He is Brahma, by which all things are illuminated [participating in Its essence according to the degree of their reality], the Light of which causes the sun and all luminous bodies to shine, but which is not Itself made manifest by their light.[4]

He himself pervades his own eternal essence [which is not different from the Supreme Brahma], and he contemplates the whole World [manifested and unmanifested] as being Brahma, just as fire intimately pervades a white-hot iron ball, and at the same time also reveals itself outwardly.

Brahma resembles not the World, and apart from Brahma there is naught; everything that appears to exist apart from It cannot exist save in illusory mode, like the apparition of water [in the form of a mirage] in the desert [maru, a word precise in meaning, referring to a barren region but especially to a desert, which, due to its uniform appearance, evokes the idea of principial indifferentation].

Of all that is seen, of all that is heard [thus, all that is perceived by any faculty] naught exists apart from Brahma; and by Knowledge, Brahma is contemplated as alone real, abounding in Bliss, without duality.

The eye of Knowledge contemplates Brahma as It is in Itself, abounding in Bliss, pervading all things; but the eye of ignorance discovers It not, discerns It not, even as a blind man perceives not the sensible light.

The ‘Self’ being illumined by meditation [when a theoretical and therefore still indirect knowledge makes it appear as if it were receiving the Light from a source other than itself, which is still an illusory distinction], and then burning with the fire of Knowledge [realizing its essential identity with the Supreme Light], is delivered from all accidents, and shines in its own splendor, like gold which is purified in the fire.

When the Sun of spiritual Knowledge rises in the heavens of the heart [that is, at the center of the being, called Brahma-pura], it dispels the darkness [of ignorance], it pervades all, envelopes all and illumines all.

He who has made the pilgrimage of his own ‘Self’, a pilgrimage not concerned with situation, place, or time, which is everywhere, in which neither heat nor cold are experienced, which procures a lasting felicity and a final deliverance from all disturbance; such a one is actionless, he knoweth all things [in Brahma], and he attaineth Eternal Bliss.

[1] The selections contained in this article are from Atma-Bodha in Guenon’s translation.

[2] Chhandogya Upanishad, VI.1.4-6.

[3] We refer against to the Taoist saying: ‘Do not inquire whether the Principle is in this or in that; it is in all beings.’ (Chuang Tzu, chap. 22).

[4] See Kena Upanishad, I.5-9: ‘That by which all is manifested, but which is Itself manifested by nothing…’

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