Monday, June 01, 2009

Death | the Supreme Action

1.
Action vs. Activity

Art of Alex GreyOsho, the mystic and divinely 'mad one' says: "Remember two words: one is "action", another is "activity". Action is not activity; activity is not action. Their nature are diametrically opposite. Action is when the situation demands it, you act, you respond. Activity is when the situation doesn't matter, it is not a response; you are so restless within that the situation is just an excuse.

Action comes out of a silent mind - it is the most beautiful thing in the world. Activity comes out of a restless mind. Action is moment to moment, spontaneous; activity is loaded with the past."

To understand the delicate distinction Osho gives us the example that when you are hungry you eat - this is action. But you are not hungry - you don't feel any hunger at all, and still you go on eating - this is activity. This eating is like violence; you destroy food, you crush you teeth and destroy food; it gives you a little release of your inner restlessness. You are eating not because of hunger, you are simply eating because of reacting to your mindlessness.

"Activity is your escape from yourself. In action you are. Find the distinction within yourself; what is activity and what is action; that is the first step. The second step is to become involved in action so that the energy moves into action and whenever there is activity to be more watchful about it, more alert. If you are aware, activity ceases, energy is preserved, and the same energy becomes action.

Action is always new and fresh like the dew drops in the morning. And a person who is a person of action is also always fresh and young. The body may become old, but his freshness continues. The body may die, but his youth continues. The body may disappear, but he remains - because God loves freshness. God is always for the new and the fresh."

- quoted from Tantra: The Supreme Understanding by Osho

God is ever bringing forth the creation anew. He is the Enumerator (al-Muhsi), the Renewer of Life (al-Muhiy), the Eternal (as-Samad).
- The Quran

2.
Becoming Instrument: Egoic Activity to Egoless Action

In Islamic sacred tradition we find When Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, used to implore God strongly, he would say, "Ya Hayy, Ya Qayyum" invoking two powerful quality of God, which means, "O Ever Living One, O Eternally Subsisting One upon Whom we all depend."

The attribute of 'Qayyum' is echoed in the words of Acts 17:28 in earlier scripture: "in Him we live and move and have our being".

In Isha Upanishad this quality is described as we find in the commentary of the sage Sri Aurobindo: "God is the only Being and all other existences are only His becomings."

In action we dissolve our duality of ego and reflect God's attribute as we become more awake and mindful. Then our claim and fixation on doership dissolves and instead of doing, we enter into a new reality where we are being done.

About this great mystery of 'we becoming the servant who is being done', who becomes more and more a perfect instrument, Ibn Ata'allah said,

In the morning, the one who does not understand
will consider what he will do,
while the one who understand will consider
what the One will do with him.

This is also the philosophy of Gita of selfless action, the action that transcend our lesser self and this is done against the backdrop of the realization that it is The Creator who is the Real Doer, we are co-creator, khalifa, instrument participating in the Divine Orchestra.


Alex Grey, Death3.
Death
is the
Supreme
Action





When that which must come to pass comes to pass - and no one shall deny that it will come to pass.
- The Quran
the Chapter of Inevitable Event, opening verses



What! Do you take this message lightly?
Do you make your living by rejecting the Truth?
So why then, when the soul leaps, in the throat of the dying and you are at the moment watching - and We are closer to him but you do not see Us - why, if you are not dependent upon Us - do you not call it back if you claim to know it all?
- The Quran 56:81-87

The Supreme Action when we are being done ultimately is our death. It is the Supreme Action because it is our last action in which we participate before we leave this clay jar, this body. It is the Supreme Action because in this action we are utterly made to realize Who is the Real Doer. The last thing that we wish to claim as ours - is our very soul and even this leaves from this "i" business. Thus in death whether we want or not, we are made to face the reality of who are we and Who is in change for real.

Since death is the Supreme Action, we are told to contemplate upon death because it grounds us back into the reality. When we are at peace with the Supreme Action, every other action flow through us and by us with minimum resistance. Then whatever we do become a prayer, become a rhythm and in harmony with all that is.

Gautama Buddha used a wonderful term for death to make us realize that it is the Supreme Action. The term for death in Buddha's realization is PariNirvana. It the final nirvana, which occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained complete awakening (bodhi). The whole pursuit of Buddhist enlightenment is to be at peace with this Supreme Action by dissolving all veils or illusions of false realities and only then happens the awakening. About this complete awakening Prophet Muhammad said, "the real realities of Son of Man awaken in death".

The Messenger of God said, "If a dying person witness the reality and pronounced "la ilaha illallah" - the person will enter the Heaven." Connect this with Buddha's language, you may rephrase this as saying, "At the time of death witness the realization mantra, "there is no other reality but God Alone Is" and enter into MahaPariNirvana, enter into the state of everlasting, highest peace and happiness (Jannat in Islamic term, Kingdom in Christ's word).

If we contemplate from the vantage point that Death is the Supreme Action, we will come to realize why Prophet said, when dying if a person witness the Truth that "there is no other divine reality but Supreme One Alone Is" which in arabic recited simply as "la ilaha illallah" - the person will enter the Kingdom.

The mantra, 'la ilaha illallah' contains the whole of realization. The Prophet said what he said because even if one person had not lived a realized life during his whole human existence, at least at the moment of 'the other awakening', which is death, he or she is given the last chance to witness the truth. If one arrive at the last breath and witness the Supreme Understanding that 'there is no other reality but God Alone is' - one is promised the highest station destined for human birth: the Kingdom. 'la ilaha illallah', 'there is no other reality but Allah', or 'there is no other reality but God alone Is" - this is the Supreme Understanding.

The statement of the Prophet is a secret hint where the Supreme Action meets the Supreme Understanding and gives birth to matrix (or condition) for Supreme Enlightenment.

Tilopa, the great mystic of Bengal said,

"The Supreme understanding transcend all this and that.
The Supreme action embraces great treasure without attachment.
The Supreme accomplishment is to realize immanence without gap."

Let the supreme action unite with the supreme understanding - that is intended, that takes one to supreme accomplishment: entering into the Presence, entering into the Garden, entering into the Kingdom. This is Supreme Enlightenment.

"Mutu qabla anta mutu", die before you die, that is to say, embrace the Supreme Action when you have chance, don't wait for the last breath - is said so that we may arrive at the Supreme Action with Supreme Understanding well before the final call and thus be touched by the truth and live in truth.

4.
Practical aspect of the teachings

All spiritual teachings stream forth from the fountain head of practicality. If spirituality is not grounded in practicality then all is wishful thinking. The teaching of the consciousness of death has profound practical value. If individuals come to their senses to realize that we are here for a short period of time ('we are all passerby' according to Christ and Muhammad) and we all must go and there is no escape from this reality - then we could no longer become and remain blindly selfish individual who run around every day and all our life with nothing but to hoard stuff and more stuff. The understanding of death alone can cure ourselves from becoming maniac consumers and self-centered animals, rather we would be hastening to do wholesome actions (amal salih) and give ourselves for others like a candle that not only has its own bright light but give lights to others. And this tear stained world needs this the most. Understanding the reality of death can give birth to profound urge for enriched living and sacred activism.

The teachings of death is not just theological abstraction or turning away from this world. Its quite the opposite. Its to make us live fully and with purpose and meaning. As its said that "Death isn't sad. The sad thing is: most people don't live at all."

The practical wisdom of the teachings in every possible spiritual path teach us about death and its reminder so that we can respect and live our life with a higher awareness. And when whole of humanity start to live fully then in the words of mystic poet Hafiz this earth can become heaven. Even if a small section of society can do that, or less even if only few individuals, that shall suffice to bring real change among many around them. Hafiz says:

It happens all the time in heaven, and some day it will begin to happen again on earth - that men and women who are married, and men and men who are friends, and women and women who give each other light, often will get down on their knees and while so tenderly holding their lover's hand, with tears in their eyes, will sincerely speak, saying: "my beloved, my friend, my fellow beings, how can I be more loving to you; how can I be more kind?"

May our realization of death spark the alchemy within to transform us all into such beloveds who see all and serve all as our truly loved one - with deep compassion, kindness and love.


. art credit: Visionary Artist and Mystic Alex Grey
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