XV. The Spirit
This is the anandamaya kosha, literally the coil of bliss of the Vedantins. With the power of psychic perception, the soul knows the existence of this entity, but in the present stage of human development it has hardly made its presence directly felt in the human constitution. The characteristic difference between the soul and the spirit is the absence of the “I” in the latter.
It is the dawn of the day of evolution. It is the first setting-in of the positive current of the great breath. It is the first state of cosmic activity after the night of Mahapralaya. As we have seen, the breath in every state of existence has three states: the positive, the negative, and the susumna. The susumna is pregnant with either of the two states. This is the state that is described in the Parameshthi sukta of the Rig Veda as neither Sat (positive) nor Asat (negative). This is the primary state of parabrahma, in which the whole universe lies hidden like a tree in the seed. As billows rise and lose themselves in an ocean, the two states of evolution and involution take their rise in this state, and in due time are lost in the same. What is Prakriti itself in this state of potential omnipotence? The phenomena of Prakriti owe their origin and existence to the modifications of the great breath. When that great breath is in the state of susumna, can we not say that Prakriti itself is held in that state by susumna? It is in fact parabrahma that is all in all. Prakriti is only the shadow of that substance, and like a shadow it follows the modifications of His great breath. The first modification of the great breath is the setting in of the evolutionary (positive) current) In this state, Prakriti is ready to modify into the ethers of the first degree, which make up the atmosphere from which Iswara draws life. In the first state of evolution, the Subject (parabrahma) whose breath causes these modifications of Prakriti, is known as Sat, the fountainhead of all existence. The I is latent in this state. Naturally enough, because it is the differentiation that gives birth to the I. But what is this state? Must man be annihilated before he reaches this state of what from the standpoint of man is called nirvana or paranirvana? There is no reason to suppose that it is the state of annihilation any more than a certain amount of latent heat is annihilated in water. The simple fact is that the color that constitutes the ego becomes latent in the spirit’s higher form of energy. It is a state of consciousness or knowledge above self, not certainly destroying it.
The individual spirit bears the same relation to the Sat which the individual soul bears to the Iswara, the individual mind to the Virat, and the individual life-principle to the Prana. Each center is given birth to by the tatwic rays of that degree. Each is a drop in its own ocean. The Upanishad explains this state under many names. The Chhandogva, however, has a very comprehensive dialogue on this subject between Uddalaka and his son Shwetakete.
Professor Max Muller has made some very questionable remarks on certain assertions in this dialogue, calling them “more or less fanciful”. These remarks could never have fallen from so learned a man had he known and understood something of the ancient Science of Breath and the Philosophy of the Tatwas. The Upanishad can never be very intelligible without this comprehensive science. It must be remembered that the Upanishads themselves have in many places clearly laid down that a teacher is wanted for the proper understanding of these divine words. Now the teacher taught nothing else but the Science of Breath, which is said to be the secret doctrine of all secret doctrines. It is, in fact, the key to all that is taught in the Upanishad. The little book that tries to explain these essays to the world appears from its very arrangement to be a compilation of various couplets on the same subject, inherited from various esoteric circles. In fact, this handful of stanzas has its chief value as a key to Aryan philosophy and occult science, but even this little book will hardly serve to dispel the gloom of ages.
To return, however, to the dialogue between the father and the son: it is contained in the sixth Prapathaka of the Chhandogya Upanishad.
“In the beginning, my dear, there was only that which is one only, without a second. Others say in the beginning there was that only, which is not one only, without a second, and from which is not, that which is was born.”
This is the translation of Professor Max Muller. Notwithstanding the authority of his great name, and real scholarship, I venture to think that the sense of the Upanishad is totally lost sight of in this translation. The words of the original are:
“Sad eva saumyedamagre asit.”
I cannot find any word in the translation giving the sense of the word idam in the original. Idam means “this”, and it has been explained as meaning the phenomenal world. This that is perceived, etc. Therefore real translation of the text would be:
“This (world) was Sat alone in the beginning.”
Perhaps in the translation of Professor Muller the word “there” is printed by mistake for “this”. If this is the case, the defect in the translation is at once cured.
The text means that the first state of the world before differentiation was the state known as Sat. From what comes afterwards, it appears that this is the state of the Universe in which all its phenomena, material, mental and psychic, are held in posse. The word eva, which in the translation stands for the word “alone” or “only”, signifies that in the beginning of the Day of Evolution the universe had not all the five, or even two or more of the five planes of existence together. Now such is the case, but in the beginning the Sat existed alone.
The Sat is one only, without a second. There is no qualification of time in these two epithets. The Sat is one alone, not like the Prana, the Virat, and Iswara, having all three existing simultaneously, a shadowy side of existence.
The next sentence goes on to say that in the beginning there was Asat alone. As Professor Muller renders it, “There [?] was that only which is not.”
Now this carries no meaning, not withstanding the Greek accompaniment. That the word Asat is used in the sense of “that which is not” or briefly “nothing”, there is no doubt. But there is also no doubt that such is not the meaning of the Upanishad. The words are used here in the same sense in which they are used in the “Nosad asit” hymn of the Rigveda.
“Then there was neither the Sat nor the Asat.”
This of course is a state quite other than the Sat of the Upanishad. It is nothing more than the susumna of the Brahmic breath. After this in the beginning of evolution the Brahma became Sat. This is the positive potential phase. The Asat is nothing more than the cooler negative life current that rules during the night of Maha pralaya. When the shadowy Prakriti has undergone the preparatory influence of the negative current, the day of evolution sets in with the beginning of the positive current. The dispute as to beginning is merely of a technical nature. In reality there is no beginning. It is all a motion in the circle, and from this point of view we may put whatever state we like in the beginning.
But the Asat philosopher argues that unless the Maya undergo the preparatory influence of the Night, there can be no creation. Hence, according to him, we must put Asat at the beginning.
The sage Uddalaka would not consent to this. According to him, the active impressive force is in the Sat, the positive state, just as all the life-forms take their origin from Prana (the positive life matter) and not from Rayi (the negative life matter) – see the Prasnopnishat. It is only impressibility that exists I the Asat; the real names and forms of the phenomenal Universe do not exist there. In fact, the name Asat has been given to the primary state of the evolving universe for this very reason. If we would translate these two words into English, we would have to coin two very unique compounds: Sat (that-in-which-is) and Asat (that-in-which-is-not).
It is only such a rendering that would carry the true idea, and hence it is advisable to retain the Sanskrit words and explain them as well as one can.
That actually existing state in which the names and forms do not exist cannot very properly stand as the cause of the names and forms that do not exist. Hence the Sat alone was in the beginning, etc.
The individual spirit has the same relation to the Sat as the soul has to the Iswara.
That will do for now. It is enough to show that there is no annihilation anywhere in the Universe. Nirvana simply means the enlightenment (which is not extinction) of the phenomenal rays.