While piety and its marriage to intelligence has been age-old (one can see it even from the period of Vyasa), its courtship with magnanimity and great feelings has been very recent. Even if it existed many years ago, it does appear to be in spurts. Never has it been constant. A great heart seems to have always gone with social and national concern, towards the aesthetic, or towards worship of nature. It has rarely gone with piety. Sannyasis have rarely been known to have a great heart in the past, though today’s generations know a sadhu merely by his magnanimity and selfless large-heartedness. The images of a sadhu that we normally carried were those of a recluse, slightly stiff on manners, and a ready anger.
It is indeed a rare phenomenon where piety has married both intelligence and a great heart, all in one man. It is only such a man who can ever undertake great action and yet pursue something truly spiritual.
Let us examine the challenges involved in this partnership. An intelligent man is known to trust or believe some rational basis alone. He is known not to trust an irrational belief or feeling. Such a man, who goes strictly by logic and right cause-effect arguments, does not possess the intuitiveness or the hunches of a great heart. Obviously, there shall be conflicts. And, further, the inherent sense of piety and its innocent simplicity does find it very challenging to merely co-exist with the extravagance and gregariousness of a great heart, as well as, the curiosity and compulsion of an intellect, to understand a thing perfectly. What is the point, piety would muse! A great heart is an outpour of wonderful feelings, a continuous dwelling on a utopian, expansive ideal. Curiosity running at the background often degenerates into an empty noise. The simple contentment of piety finds it difficult to handle the pressure of the ideal, or the curiosity of intelligence. Piety often rejects a great heart as ‘high-handed’! It dismisses the verve and vigour of curiosity as ‘needling noise’!
To find a sangam (confluence) of all the three in one man is indeed a rarity. Such a man must have resolved the internal conflicts on a very sane basis, if he has to retain the purity of all the three within him, even in the confluence. Piety cannot be sacrificed at the altar of even the most convincing of intellectual arguments. No intelligence can ever collapse in the presence of great feelings and an eternally creative heart. And, in the name of piety and simplicity, one cannot severely restrain the fragrance of the heart, nor ruthlessly cut the play of intelligence. Very few have all the three in full flow within them in the first place. And even amongst those few, a rare one has actually discovered an inner confluence!
Why only a sadhu, be it any man/woman who hasn’t found such an inner confluence, I seriously doubt whether such a person shall ever have the boats to survive the storms of life, yet find the energy to sail in purposeful directions, as well as have the tenacious presence of mind to learn vital lessons about the character of the sea itself.
This said, I am coming to the most difficult part. A brief background about this before we come to the sadhus.
All religions have treated sex shabbily. No doubts about that. Either they have prescribed marriage as an institution, within which one is allowed to indulge, or they have prescribed celibacy. Sexual pleasure is the touchiest subject of Hinduism. Indulgence is considered lower; celibacy is placed higher! Because, celibacy is difficult; not because celibacy is the right approach to sexual pleasure! Surprisingly, I have found that those who aren’t so religious often carry better views about dealing with sexual pleasure. Religion and sex have remained two opposite extremes. This is the widening chasm between the sex and the sacred. Anything sexual cannot be sacred. Anything sacred cannot have sex. This idea seems to have entrenched itself so firmly in the Hindu consciousness. I have known many sants and sadhus who deliberately avoid getting into such topics.
The one who has achieved that confluence that I was referring to earlier, the sangam of piety, intelligence, and a great heart, can indeed afford to ignore the pangs of sexual craving. He has the large-heartedness not to belittle or treat it with disdain, but he doesn’t know, as yet, how to get that also as part of the confluence.
Why leave it out? Why should anything remain out? Why should sexual craving be allowed to operate like a thief, who comes out in the night, has his loot, and leaves the individual civil, during daylight? Can the thief be spoken to?
Piety doesn’t know how to deal with sexual pleasure. Pleasure of all kinds that one experiences indeed emanates from sex. I hope that view is acceptable. Piety can’t deal with the orgasmic build up of pleasure. It just gets destroyed. Intelligence merely looks for causes, which are far away from the terrain of pleasure. The magnanimity of the heart is ever ready to overlook pleasure and deem it petty, childish, still to mature kind of a thing.
It requires tremendous integrity to look at pleasure straight. By integrity, I mean great efforts by these three – piety, intelligence, and the large heart. The point would obviously be not to eliminate it.
The strife is for a universal field of consciousness. One field, with no disparate parts. No hierarchy. No steps. No divisions at all. Every experience of the human being must be within that universal field. Not as a theory. As an actual experience!
Simply put, I remain the same, in any experience that a human can ever undergo. This is the point of piety itself. This itself is the purpose of intelligence. That of the mighty heart. And the oneness that pleasure seeks.
As I said, most sants and sadhus, because they are brought up within the environment of Hinduism, would avoid pleasure. Their entire strife would be to grow out of the need for pleasure itself. They often equate sexual pleasure with body consciousness. Being free of it is a movement into the higher, this is the feeling. So long as this distance between the sex and the sacred exists, the universal field of consciousness is just not visible.
Surprisingly, such a universal field exists, and one simply has to come to it, by dropping all wrong notions. It is the willingness to deal with every part of oneself with straightness and dignity, not promote hierarchies, that saves the day. Light is not far for an earnest seeker of truth.
The blooming of the sadhu is indeed a marvel. A Jnaani is one who seeks to know the truth and truth alone. How can one ever know the truth, the substratum of all life, until one operates from one field of consciousness? Living every moment as the one field of consciousness, one knows the truth, for truth is self-evident.
Now, let us take up a small assignment. Replace the word ‘piety’ in this entire article with ‘inner freedom’. Replace ‘intelligence’ with the word ‘intellect’, the word ‘mighty heart’ by the word ‘mind’, and the word ‘pleasure’ by ‘body’.
As much as piety interacts with each of the other three, it no longer remains passive contentment. It attains a dynamic freedom, full of purity and goodness. With that as the base, the trikarana, the equipment-trio of body, mind, and intellect, not only bloom to their fullness, but also find an inner confluence. Trikarana shuddhi, i.e., the purification of the equipment-trio is just the first aspect. As we said earlier, when the body operates in full steam, i.e., when pleasure is in full flow, the operation of mind-intellect is stifled. The same applies to the other two as well. Inner freedom not only allows each equipment to develop fully, but it also gets them to work and live together, by constantly resolving conflicts.
Integrity is when the entire individual, the equipment-trio, trikarana, move together. In decision making, in enjoyment, in listening to the scriptures, in emergencies, in solitude, wherever, all the three must function fully and learn to live together. Such an individual alone is eligible to view that one field of consciousness. Spirituality is an all inclusive approach; it leaves out nothing of the human, the divine, or the so called satan.
The Jnaani is therefore a fully bloomed entity, as well as, a highly restrained one too. He is at once potent, because everything has found its place in him; as well as, freely expressive too, which means that anything of him can find expression in utter freedom. It is such a man alone who sees the truth as it is, just behind him, as it were. In fact, he himself is the truth.
The experience is simple, yet profound. No divisions, no hierarchies, nothing to look forward to, nothing of the past to muse over. Nothing of the substance lies outside. Nor is anything of the substance ever treated separately, or in a different manner. There is one light that showers over the entire field of consciousness. Whether the question is about sex, ethics, physics, law, responsibility, social work, or religious ritual, the light is the same. It can emit rays through any word. But, the substance that it indicates and experiences, remains the same. Since there is no substance outside it, either in a person or tradition, there is no extrovert courting. Since such a substance is not to be got in time, chronological time has no meaning. Since such a substance is not to be found in some other land, space loses its meaning. A unified field of consciousness doesn’t even experience the substratum as apart from itself.
Such a one is defined as Parabrahmavastu, in Vedantic parlance. The Jnaani as an individual exists no more.