Doctrines of Sri Chaitanya II


THE revealed word of the Veda communicated by the transcendental teacher to the disciple who is seriously prepared to listen the utterances in the spirit of complete submission can alone convey the Absolute Truth i.e., Itself, to souls with unlimited capacity of receiving the truth.

This says Sri Chaitanya, is the fundamental teaching of all really spiritual scriptures. Let us try to understand a little more fully the implications of the above. It assumes that the Veda or revealed knowledge exists in this world; that transcendental teachers are available in this mundane plane; that we can have no access to the Veda except by submissive listening to the uttered words of the transcendental teacher.

I have called these ‘assumptions’. But they may also with equal truth be described as necessary corollaries of the Absolute position Itself. In fact once the existence of the absolute is really admitted and the impossibility of ascending process to attain It is fully recognized we are really left completely to Its mercy as regards the initiative. We can no longer make any conditions. We are compelled by the principle of consistency to allow Truth Itself to lay down the method of Its appearance to us.

But do we really possess the capacity of receiving the Absolute even if It choose to appear before us in any form? It follows from the connotation of the Absolute that although we certainly do not posses the capacity at present we are necessarily endowed with it as soon as the Absolute chooses to appear to us. It is this which is described by the theologians as ‘cause-less mercy’ of the Absolute which alone can necessarily remove our ignorance regarding Itself. There is no other alternative.

But is it really possible to lay aside the ascending process and the faculties concerned therewith? No. That is neither possible nor necessary. What is required is to adjust them to the new angle of vision. Or, in other words, they have to be subordinated to the transcendental.

If we kill our faculties we are left without the means of receiving the Absolute when It makes Its appearance. It is necessary to keep them fit. But we must not misunderstand this function also. We must not allow our faculties to guide themselves. It is really at this-point that the all-important question of the nature of the spiritual function arises. There would be no service to perform in this world if our existing faculties have no place in it. Spiritual services is thus seen to be a perpetual subordination of our faculties to be Absolute. But unless and until the Absolute Itself shows us the way we can have nothing to do spiritually.

We can have no hesitation in accepting the lead of the Absolute if It be really the Absolute. That which is capable of satisfying fully all the demands of all our faculties is not likely to be really unacceptable to anything short of, not clever, but dense perversity. I call such perversity foolish for the reason that it happens to be opposed to Truth. Even foolishness Itself becomes inexcusable and de generates into sterile perversity if it is left without the direct guidance of the Absolute. Such foolishness shuts out the Absolute permanently and is for this reason, suicidal. Because the Absolute is the very stuff of our soul. That which lives and thrives on anything else has no value for the soul.

All the difference that splits up humanity into an endless number of warring camps is due to the failure to grasp the necessity of following the direct lead of the Absolute in all cases. But our wish will not automatically provide us with such lead. It is necessary for our wish to be really effective. The Absolute will never appear if we simply wait for it. We must begin an active search for It by means of all our faculties. The moment we are inclined to begin this search the transcendental teacher is really approached in the really submissive way. He is the embodiment of ‘Cause-less’ Divine mercy and of himself appears in the heart of the artless seeker. As soon as he makes his appearance we obtain his unerring guidance in the search of the Absolute. This search is the only form of spiritual service that is available in this world. It consists in the constant employment of all our faculties under the guidance of the transcendental teacher speaking to our hearts.

Up to this point even the thoroughgoing empiricist should experience no real difficulty to agree. The real citadel of the empiricist is still apparently quite safe. If everybody is to be guided by his and her own internal light the submission that is thereby proposed in identical with perfect individual liberty. The empiricist on principle is opposed to all external control.

He does not admit the unchallengeable authority of the revealed scriptures. According to him everything should be required to submit the final scrutiny of reason. Even the transcendental teacher speaking to one’s heart must only persuade and not command. The command is reserved unconditionally to our admittedly fallible reason.

Sri Chaitanya says that this will make one stay where he happens to be at the start. Those who are content to remain satisfied with ignorance are welcome to their choice. Only let them not also claim to be seekers of the Absolute. For those, however, who are really in search of the Truth the attainment of a position which is liable to leave them once again to their own futile guidance, is also unsatisfactory for the opposite reason. They are in the need of being really commanded by the proper authority. That authority which is under the necessity of persuading delegates its function of the master to the servant. In this case a real master is required, not a servant. The empiricist, however, does not question the authoritative nature of his own reason. He is not opposed to authority on principle. But black will not be white even if his reason commands it to be so. There is even in this world such a thing as objective reality. The external is never conditional on the internal for its existence. In such case does the reason find no occasion to submit ‘unconditionally’ to external ‘authority’?

The Absolute alone possesses an unconditional subjective existence of Its own. It is, in other words, always the master and never the servant. Whatever does not submit to It can possess only a deceptive existence. Such really is the case of empiric reason itself. The empiric reason thinks it stands although it has really no legs of its own to stand upon. Nay, it is not content with this transparent enough folly, but must invite the Absolute to depend on its hypothetical legs.

When the real master makes his appearance in the heart all such folly is dissipated once for all. The spiritual scriptures are only then understood as being the final authority which transcends the authority even of the inexorable laws of the physical universe. The enlightened reason is thereby enabled to transfer its allegiance from Nature to Nature’s God. It exchanges the galling slavery of dead Nature for the free ‘service’ of the living Truth.

The empiric idea of service, which makes a double confusion of servant with master affirming of the servant under the impression that he is the master, the function of the master under the impression that it is that of the servant, does not apply to the spiritual function. It is neither mastery nor service but a make-believe. It is possible for the empiric reason to congratulate itself on being neither master nor servant and thus boast of its freedom, for the simple reason that it is sham all through. As a matter of fact it does not really want to serve at all but makes a virtue of necessity when it is always compelled to submit against its nature, by pretending to choose to submit freely. It is inclined to know the truth under the impression that such knowledge may enable it never to submit at all. This as we all know is the notorious dream of all the empiric sciences, each within its own sphere. This dissimulation should be discarded if one really wants to know the Truth.

No effort of the empiric imagination can form any idea of spiritual service. The reason cannot put off its shackles by any method known to itself either of domination or of submission. It cannot dominate for want of power. It cannot serve for want of knowledge. The paltry reason of man cannot be satisfied by living on its own poor resources. It can function properly only if it has both guidance and free scope. The service of the Truth alone offers both in the form that should be acceptable to reason itself. But it is only the actual appearance of the Truth that can impart to us the experience of the Inconceivable.

When the transcendental teacher of the service of the Truth appears to the mind that is aware of its shortcomings due to previous unrecognised contact with those who serve the Truth, the very first dis-illusionment that it instantly undergoes is that it realises that the real Truth is a Person. The Truth is a transcendental Person Who is waited upon by an infinite number of transcendental persons who are His different aspects or servants.

The empiric idea tat Truth is impersonal is a perfectly gratuitous assumption that is without rhyme or reason. The reason of the error lies in the fact that we suppose that It resembles the so called empiric ‘truths’ which are impersonal being abstract general images of limited entities. We also suppose that a person is necessarily a being of flesh and blood.

Similar empiric prejudice stands in the way of our believing in the transcendental method of oral communication of the Truth by the spiritual master. We either expect something extraordinary and sensational or a rigid adherence to the current methods.

It is necessary to cast aside all such prejudices and wait for the Truth Itself to take the initiative. The function of the mind should be to attend with a thoroughly loyal and submissive attitude which need not be inconsistent with the unfettered demands of our unprejudiced reason.

Can the reason oppose, support or guide what is beyond itself? It is given to us to suppose that we may some day acquire the capacity of having a real insight into the workings of the vast wonderful system of physical Nature, on the ground that we sincerely believe that we are making actual progress in that direction. We may rightly resent if this hope is seriously challenged by anyone without very cogent reason. But if we once admit the transcendental nature of the Absolute we need not suppose that any of our mundane interests can be jeopardized by any admission on another plane. If for instance, we are asked to believe that the Absolute is a Transcendental Person why need we oppose the statement under the misapprehension that we might be required to admit the same also in regard to empiric truth which we are certainly not prepared to do? Yes, no doubt, the reason has a part to play in the realm of the spirit; but not the part it is required to play on the material plane. It is part of the training to learn what that part is.

The transcendental teacher is a person who appears in our midst as an ordinary mortal but is not really such. His activities resemble those of an ordinary mortal with only this difference that he allows for the actual existence of the transcendental in those activities. He teaches, like any other mortal, by asking us to listen, read or do certain things that are explained in such a way that we can understand them. In other words, he does not act irrationally even from the empiric point of view. The transcendental is super-rational not irrational; it does not deny the phenomenal but explains and exceeds it. It uses the same vocabulary to express the inexpressible. No one who is not prepared to devote his full attention to the subject can avoid confounding the mundane with the spiritual when it makes its appearance in this world. This also applies to the case of the transcendental teacher and his teaching.

The transcendental teacher is the only living source of the Truth. He is a spirit and all his activities are spiritual. His words are not less living than he himself. It is through his activities that the Absolute chooses to manifest Himself to souls with no power to know the real Truth.

The Absolute as the Subject to be taught by the spiritual teacher also appears in this world as Transcendental Sound in the form of the Word. The revealed scriptures describe the activities of the Absolute, as the Subject, in the form of the Word. It is the Word or the Subjective Absolute Himself Who appears on the tongue of the transcendental teacher in order to give Himself away to those who are really inclined to receive the Truth, i.e., want to serve Him.

The inclination to serve the Truth is also imparted by the spiritual teacher. The inclination exists in all of us in a latent form. As soon as the living source is approached, even unconsciously at first, his words set themselves to the difficult task of rousing the sleeper with his consent. The words of the teacher backed by the actual previous experiences of the un-intelligible nature of his relations with the world, under favourable circumstances, may rouse his dormant interest in an effective i.e., practical form.

As soon as one is inclined to listen attentively to the living words of the spiritual teacher one begins to acquire the capacity of receiving the Truth. In proportion as actual submission to the teacher is perfected the capacity for receiving the Truth also improves.