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“The Ecstasy of Breaking-Through in the Experience of Meditation” by Lama Anagarika Govinda

Just as the Dakinis represent the inspirational impulses of consciousness, leading to knowledge and understanding, so the Herukas (the male qualities of the Buddha-nature) represent the active aspect of karuna, of unlimited compassion, in the ecstatic act of breaking through the confines of egohood to the universal state of the all-comprising essentiality. In this aspect all hindrances are annihilated: the own illusory “I” as well as all ideas of selfhood and separateness—in short, all intellectual thought and ratiocination. Intuitive knowledge and spontaneous feeling merge here into an inseparable unity— as inseparable as the union of Dakini and Heruka in the aspect of yab-yum, which only emphasizes in visible form, what is present in every process of enlightenment and in each symbol of Buddhahood, even though it may be put into the form of the male aspect only.

Lama Anagarika Govinda

. . . Just as every new discovery of science not only contributes to the wealth of data and the widening of our field of knowledge, but leads to further discoveries and to a reappraisal of former data, in the same way each new experience of meditation opens new horizons and creates new methods of practice and realization. The human mind cannot stop at any point on its way towards knowledge. Standstill means death, rigidity and decay. This is the law of all life and of all consciousness. It is the law of the spirit, from which life and consciousness flow.

Just as in mathematical thought each dimension necessarily demands another, higher one, until we are forced to the conclusion that there must be an infinite series of dimensions— in the same way each further extension of our spiritual horizon hints at new, undreamed of dimensions of consciousness.

The fact that each experience points beyond itself and can therefore not be defined or limited as something that exists in itself, but only in relationship to other experiences; this fact is circumscribed in the concept of sunyata the emptiness of all determinations, the non-absoluteness, the infinite relationship of all experience. And this “super-relativity” contains at the same time the unifying element of a living universe, because infinite relationship becomes all-relationship and therewith a metaphysical magnitude, which can neither be described as “being” nor as “non-being,” neither as movement nor as non-movement.

Here we have reached the boundary of thought, the end of all that is thinkable and conceivable. Like movement, which in its ultimate extreme, in its highest form, cannot be distinguished from perfect rest and immobility, thus relativity in the highest sense of universal relationship is indistinguishable from the “absolute.” “The eternally constant can only be represented in the changeable; the eternally changeable only in the constant, the whole, the present moment.” (Novalis.)

For this reason sunyata and iathata (suchness) are identical in their nature. The former characterizes the negative, the latter the positive side of the same reality. The realization of the former starts from the experience of transitoriness, momentariness, temporal and spatial relativity—the latter from the experience of timelessness, of completeness, of the whole, the absolute. This, however, does not mean that sunyata exhausts itself in the quality of relativity, nor that tathata is to be identified with the absolute. We use these expressions only as a bridge leading from the Western to the Eastern, or, more correctly, from the logical-philosophical to the intuitive-metaphysical mode of thinking.

D. T. Suzuki is therefore right when he denounces the intellectual shallowness which tries to equate the modern conception of relativity with that of sunyata on purely logical grounds. “Emptiness is the result of an intuition and not the outcome of reasoning. The idea of Emptiness grows out of experience, and in order to give it a logical foundation the premise is found in relativity. But, speaking strictly logically, there is a gap between relativity and Emptiness.

Relativity does not make us jump over the gap; as long as we stay with relativity we are within a circle; to realize that we are in a circle and that therefore we must get out of it in order to see its entire aspect presupposes our once having gone beyond it. This leap over the chasm, which yawns between our intellectual surface-consciousness and the intuitive supra-personal depth-consciousness, is represented in the ecstatic dance of the “blood-drinking deities,” embraced by Dakinis. The inspirational impulse of the Dakinis drives us from the protected, but narrowly fenced circle of our illusory personality and our habitual thought, until we burst the boundaries of this circle and of our egohood in the ecstatic thrust towards the realization of totality. In this ecstatic thrust, all bonds, all worldly fetters, all prejudices and illusions are destroyed, all conventional concepts are swept away, all craving and clinging is cut off at the root, past and future are extinguished, the power of karma is broken, and the Great Void is experienced as the eternal present and ultimate Reality and Suchness. . . .

Maya as the Creative Principle and the Dimensions of Consciousness

We are not concerned here with a subjective idealism, based on logical speculations, concepts and categories, but with a doctrine which is founded upon the reality of the mind and its deepest experiences.

If we call maya a reality of a lower degree, we do this because illusion rests on the wrong interpretation of a partial aspect of reality. Compared with the highest or “absolute” reality, all forms, in which this reality appears to us, are illusory, because they are only partial aspects, and as such incomplete, torn out of their organic connections and deprived of their universal relationship. The only reality, which we could call “absolute,” is that of the all-embracing whole. Each partial aspect must therefore constitute a lesser degree of reality—the less universal, the more illusory and impermanent.

To a point-like consciousness the continuity of a line is inconceivable. For such a consciousness there exists only a continual and apparently unrelated origination and passing-away of points.

To a linear consciousness—we could call it a one-dimensional consciousness, in contrast to the non-dimensional point-like consciousness—the continuity of a plane would be inconceivable, because it can only move in one direction and only comprehend a linear relationship of points following each other.

To a two-dimensional consciousness the continuity of a plane, i.e., the simultaneous existence of points, straight lines, curves, and designs of all kinds are conceivable, but not the spatial relationship of planes, as they form for instance the surface of a cube.

In three-dimensional space-consciousness, however, the relationship of several planes is co-ordinated to form the concept of a body, in which the simultaneous existence of different planes, lines and points can be conceived and grasped in their totality.

Thus the consciousness of a higher dimension consists in the co-ordinated and simultaneous perception of several systems of relationship or directions of movement, in a wider, more comprehensive unity, without destroying the individual characteristics of the integrated lower dimensions. The reality of a lower dimension is therefore not annihilated by a higher one, but only “relativized” or put into another perspective of values.

“The Ecstasy of Breaking-Through in the Experience of Meditation” by Lama Anagarika Govinda is an extract from The Highest State of Consciousness edited by John W. White, published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.

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