Tomar ghorey bash korey kara O Mon jano na
Tomar ghorey boshot korey koe jona, Mon jano na!
O self, have you recognized how many "i"s
that dwells within you?
O self, look how many "you" have made abode inside of you?
~ Baul song of Bengal
In the eastern traditions, especially in ancient India, the two terms Purusha and Prakriti are used to define two important aspects of the Reality.
Purusha is unmanifested, formless, passive, beyond attributes, beyond cause and effect, space and time. Purusha in highest sense, is Pure Essence.
Prakriti is the creative force of action, the source of form, manifestation, attributes and nature. Three modes or aspects of Prakriti are: Rajas: activity, Tamas: inertia, Sattva: rhythm, balance.
Purusha, spirit, is eternal, and Prakriti, matter, is co-eternal with spirit. Purusha and Prakriti are inseparable and are inherent in the manifested universe.
Purusha and Prakriti, which are consciousness and primordial matter. Everything else emerges from Prakriti, and then is infused with Purusha. So, for example, all the levels of manifestation of the human (gross and subtle) are Prakriti, but have life due to the infusion of Purusha.
If we compare with Theistic view: Purusha is the Essence of Godhead, it is the I Am Who I Am aspect of God which can not be known, Prakriti is that aspect for which everything emanated from nothingness. In the Islamic sacred tradition which says that God was "A Hidden Treasure that Longed to Be Known and Loved, Hence It Brought Forth the Creation" comparing to eastern thought, 'the Hidden Treasure and the I AM-ness' is Purusha and 'Longing to be Known and Loved and Creativity that Creates' is Prakriti.
Going further, Purusha is consciousness that is untainted, ever-pure. It is self-existent, standing alone from other identities of individuality; conscious being-ness; the principle of spiritual energy. Equivalent qualities of Allah which are of Purusha categories are: al-Quddus (Ever Pure), al-Qayyum (Self-Existent, Peerless), al-Ghani (Independent), al-Batin (Hidden), ash-Shahid (Pure Consciousness and Witnessing Consciousness) etc. Purusha is beyond comparison, having no associates.
Prakriti is the subtlest of the material aspect of energy. It is the primordial state of matter, even prior to matter as we know it in the physical sense. Prakriti manifests as the three gunas and the other evolutes. It is to be remembered that three here also symbolizes for many. Equivalent qualities of Allah which are of Prakriti categories are many of 99 Names. Such as: ar-Rabb (Nourisher), al-Mughni (Enricher, Fulfiller of Need), al-Hadi (Guide), al-Hamid (Praiseworthy), al-Latif (the Most Subtle), al-Malik (the Owner of all), al-Khaliq (Creator), an-Nafi (the Creator of Good) etc.
"Everything else shall perish and shall abide only the Face of Thy Lord" ~ says the Quran and in here the Face of the Lord used as a metaphor for the Essence of God, which is Purusha, and everything emanated from Prakriti shall be absorbed back after they all are destroyed and perished. Just as in our body all faculty of senses, all thought, speaking, seeing, tasting must perish and shall continue to remain only our soul.
La ilaha illaAllah
The following illustration describe the cosmogenesis according to samkhya philosophy. This one better not be taken literally because like many other picture, it is only a picture and not the precise description of reality. A map of a town is only a map, a picture only, not the town itself:
He who knows himself knows his Lord.
~ Saying of the Prophet of Islam
What is found within the individual self, is a pointer to the gnosis of the Grand Self. We are made in God's image and thus what is found in the Image of God, are also reflected within us.
Purusha part of the self is what is ever conscious, what has the witnessing capability, that which is our essence. When our physical body dies, even then unless the last link is broken, the Purusha part which witness everything continue to witness and that's how we get all these fascinating near death experiences (NDE) described later on. People of NDE often tells how vividly they could witness everything that was going around. This is from the Purusha.
And indeed, he is to that a witness (shahidun).
the Quran 100:7
Prakriti is part of the self that receive stimulation from senses, produce desire of the mind, busy creating endless thoughts, produces temporary feeling and emotions etc. Due to Prakriti's need for stimulation there are 5 cognitive senses: hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling and 5 manifestation of activities are speaking, holding, moving, procreating, eliminating.
Whatever is within us and part of our prakriti are also causes of the veils over heart and soul. Prakriti is useful and yet if one only feeds it through external stimulation, it only veil the purusha, the witnessing self. Thus we find that any meditation is actually all about reducing the activities of the prakriti part of the self or withdrawal from the senses, reducing the thoughts and mind chattering while turning inward, towards the essence, the purusha aspect of the self. The more one turn inward, the more one reduces the domination of prakriti and the more one abide with purusha or the part of the witnessing self.
InnaliLlahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun
When you go inside yourself you find the world. When you go out into the world you find yourself.
~ Shaykh Abdal-Qadir
In this modern world, as we glorify faster life, more productivity, getting more things done, getting hold of more gadgets, we are actually increasing the activities of the prakriti and we are more and more veiled from our real self. This is giving rise to all sorts of spiritual imbalances and mental imbalances which are being manifested in physical imbalance in our body, health. Majority of the modern day diseases and consumption of medicine, from heart disease to blood pressure to anxiety are caused by this heightened activities of the prakiti aspect of the self while having almost zero or negligible abiding with the purusha aspect of the self.
Sitting calmly, doing deep breathing and letting go any and all thoughts, meditation, meditative prayer and chanting, focused remembrance ~ they all promote achieving higher consciousness, strengthening the witnessing part of the self, the purusha. If someone practice regular prayer, after the ritual part is over, one must not rush back but sit calmly to increase the abiding with the purusha while reducing prakritis mindless running around and procreation of thoughts and stuff.
The tendencies of prakriti is such that it keep on producing without ceasing. Addictions (any addiction that is) are examples of how prakriti when fed as it demands can result at the end. The physical disease such as cancer is an example of unhealthy prakriti manifesting out of control in the body. Just like a mind trained to be anxious over and over can never stop anxiety or triggers with anxiety for the slightest of excuse, similarly the physical manifestation of it is biological cells that can never stop producing itself and eventually get diagnosed as cancer. These are symptoms of humanity losing its balance.
The senses of prakriti are such that the more they are fed, the more they want. The faculty of seeing (addiction to pornography, television, now computer screen), the faculty of mind (addiction to music, social media chatter), the faculty of tasting (eating disorder, eating while not really hungry, addiction to snacks/ unhealthy food) - all of them are sources of over indulging with prakriti of self in our time and cause of suffering whether we realize or not.
Sufis advice: "eat less, talk less and socialize less". Reducing the stimulation to the faculties of taste, speaking and mind are great virtue as understood by the wise of the past. But with so much knowledge at our fingertips we are actually moving in the other direction. We eat a lot and unnecessarily, we speak a lot (thanks to mobile phone and virtual chat) and we socialize unlike anytime in human history via our alarming addiction to social media (facebook). Materialistic tendencies and attitude are all because of our huge investment in prakriti and being ruled by its desire and impulses.
Quran admonishes us by asking us, "Have you seen the one who take his desires as his god?" Unfortunately it is we who are asked about our own selves. It is a question which applies for all of us. It is us who have made our desires, our habits into our gods that control us and we constantly worship them by feeding into them in many forms, through ten thousand stuff.
What they do is they massively cripple our chances of self-realization or illumination of the self let alone liberation and spiritual freedom. Such habits enslave us to the lower desires of prakriti within. Such massive stimulation cuts us off from our real self, the higher self (purusha) through a process that in Sufi term are called veiling. We are so constantly bombarded with the zahir (manifest) alone that we forget our baint (hidden self). Even religious people are trapped in such materialistic pursuit of prakriti going totally imbalaced. So you will find them turning religion into another excuse to feed their ego, their desire to count how many pilgrims they have made, showing off their religiosity, how many gurus they have sat with, all sort of self-righteousness, unhealthy over-concern for everything zahiri (outward) and abhorring anything batini (inward) because it makes them feel insecure and exposes their hypocrisy.
"How to produce modern day slaves: 1. Make doing something worthless difficult enough so that it seems to people like it's something worth doing; 2. Attach fancy labels and titles to the difficult worthless job so that people feel it's something worth competing over; 3. Give the people enough money so that they don't even notice that they won't have any Time to actually enjoy that money in doing something worth doing; 4. Promote that drinking is a totally acceptable form of entertainment after dark so that people can get to a bottle as soon as any forms of doubts, questions or concerns regarding their lives appear from the heart."
~ Nabila F. Jahan
In this peculiar age of forgetting the real and modern day slavery - here are some practical antidote against feeding the prakriti alone while starving the purusha of the self:
a) Acknowledging the Real and recognizing the realities of grand deception of present life that make us forget from where we came and where we are going. Indeed we came from the Source and must return to It and everything that all Divine Messengers have conveyed to us are truth, whether we misunderstand their language or fail to see it from non-dualistic point of view. Heaven and Hell are relatively real, far more real that this world, they are Prakriti in its different mode of reality. May God grant us Paradise our Original Home and save us from Fire. Fire is also Prakriti manifesting in the Kingdom. Responsibility and Accountability can not be escaped by any human soul except he, she who receives Total Love and Forgiveness
b) Paying more attention to what we are doing and never minding the urge to do more in short span of time, to get more things done. Fruit of action do not belong to us, it is the intention and the sincerity that matters.
c) Gifting more time to the self. More precisely, giving more time to the real self (purusha, the soul). We must provide nourishment to the heart, spirit and soul than flesh, stomach and mind alone.
d) Less noise, less digital chatter and reducing screen time as much as possible and more silence, more meditation, more time in nature. If possible to move away from large city and more close to rural areas where nature is in abundance and life is less contaminated with falsehood and artificiality.
e) Reducing unmindful eating habits, consumption habits - all kind of consumptions that is.
f) Reducing the habit of accumulating stuff, /hoarding; developing the habit of generosity (remembering pursha gives away, prakriti likes to have more of everything). Giving more of our time to selfless and noble cause for the sake of the Highest
g) Being in the company of (or in regular contact with) the People of the Heart, either directly or when not possible through their teachings, through some connection.
La ilaha illaAllah. Subhanallahi amma yushrikun.
// Sadiq M. Alam / Dhaka, Bangladesh / 20 Jan 2014
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