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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Videha-Mukti and Jivan-Mukta

In speaking of the posthumous states we have been dealing primarily with Deliverance achieved after death and by degrees, which is the ‘gradual liberation’ called krama-mukti. The situation described immediately above, however, pertains to the being who achieves liberation ‘out of bodily form’ but immediately at the moment of death without travelling through intermediate states, and this is called videha-mukti. These two possibilities must be further distinguished from a third, which is that of the yogi, a designation referring to persons ‘delivered’ in life, and this is called jivan-mukti. For such a being, knowledge of Brahma was not merely theoretical but effective, and so the ‘Supreme Identity’ was fully realized.

Here it is useful to point out that this further distinguishes Deliverance from religious Salvation. Salvation is usually understood to be a thing that occurs after death and which cannot be definitely obtained during life, or if the necessary conditions for it are met it can at least not be ‘guaranteed’ (obtained virtually).[1] Moreover, it is said that this Salvation can be nullified through action, which is obviously contrary to everything we have said regarding the relationship between knowledge and action. For the Eastern doctrine of Deliverance, therefore, the body does not pose anywhere near the obstacle that it does to the Western notion of Salvation.

Now, of the yogi, it is said that he possesses every state, even though these may not be manifested, since they need only be admitted as immutable possibilities:

Lord of many states by the simple effect of his will, the yogi occupies but one of them, leaving the others empty of life-giving breath [prana], like so many unused instruments; he is able to animate more than one form in the same way that a single lamp is able to feed more than one wick.[2]

Turning also to another commentator:

The yogi is in immediate contact with the primordial principle of the Universe and in consequence with the whole of space, of time, and of everything included therein, that is to say with manifestation, and more particularly with the human state in all its modalities.

Clearly we should not imagine, then, that the liberation of the yogi is somehow a lesser form than that attained after death (videha-mukti).

The yogi, having crossed the sea of passions, is united with Tranquility and possesses the ‘Self’ in its plenitude. Having renounced those pleasures which are born of perishable external objects [and which are themselves but external and accidental modifications of the being], and rejoicing in Bliss [Ananda, which is the sole permanent and imperishable object, not different from the ‘Self’], he is calm and serene like the torch beneath an extinguisher, in the fullness of his own essence. During his [apparent] residence in the body he is not affected by its properties any more than the firmament is affected by that which floats in its bosom; knowing all things [and thereby being all things, not distinctively, but as absolute totality], he remains immutable, unaffected by contingencies.[3]

The yogi is for this reason also called Muni, the ‘Solitary one,’ meaning one who has realized the state of ‘perfect Solitude, since it does not distinguish between inner and outer, having left all extra-principial diversity behind. That is to say, he has realized ‘Non-Duality,’ and separateness no longer exists, which was always a result of ignorance (avidya):

Imagining first that he is the individual ‘living soul’ [jivatma], man becomes afraid [through belief in the existence of some being other than himself], like one who mistakes a piece of rope for a serpent; but his fear is dispelled by the certitude that he is not in reality this ‘living soul,’ but Atma Itself.

[1] Admittedly, some strands of Protestantism teach a certainty regarding one’s salvation, but since this is based more on sentimentality than on any doctrine, it cannot be taken as a legitimate expression of the tradition. We also must admit that certain mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila, do teach that once the individual has obtained a certain degree of perfection, but the difference between what is meant in the mystical tradition and what is meant here would take us too far afield, and will at any rate be dealt with elsewhere.

[2] From the commentary of Bhavadeva-Mishra on the Brahma-Sutras.

[3] Atma-Bodha.

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