To understand the play of surface events in the world — whether social and political upheavals, natural cataclysmic events and gradual shifts such as climate change, or unpredictable and uncanny events in one's personal life — it is necessary to understand the deep play of the Supreme Intelligence that underlies and pervades reality.
The ancient yogic teachings refer to the deep play — gambhira lila in Sanskrit — as the deep dynamic structure of the Real. This concept must be deeply understood, the sages taught, if we are to play the game of life victoriously. In ancient China, it was called the Tao. To be in alignment with the Tao, we must ourselves be the embodiments of its power. This requires us to master the principle of wu wei, or effortless and egoless action.
The deep, hidden play of what the Indian sages called the Atman, in its creative acts within the soul, including dreams and visions, is the true, decisive action of divine intelligence in the life of a human being. The play at the overt level of historical activity of beings in the world is only a speculative interpretation of effects — a dream within a dream, governed by projections from the Atman's deeper dream, which lies within an even deeper, unfathomable dream in the mind of Brahman, the Absolute Intelligence.
In other words, the cause of the curvature of the space of the waking experience template lies nested in another logic than the one that interprets each experience consciously, a superior logos panoptically centered not in the plane of existence, but as an emergent property of the realm of imperience — the soul plane on which are inscribed not only the ego's unconscious marching orders, in the form of memes, master signifiers, charged images, traces of infantile memories and phantasies, but also standing waves of psychic energy carrying dream templates derived from archetypal mythemes; out-of-body and transcendent function potentials; past and future bardo encounters; sanskaras, underlying seed tendencies, from past lives and future soul trajectories; portals to higher and lower lokas, dimensions that one may be thrust into as a result of the ingestion of hallucinogenic substances; specific gravities for entheogenetic enstases produced by such substances; interdimensional wormholes, and even the initial unfoldment levels of Samadhi, or nonduality apperception.
The conscious ego mind knows little or nothing about these inner realms — at least not until non-ordinary or uncanny events irrupt from the depths of the Great Shadow and create havoc, and/or/as heavenly interventions, or simply surreal weirdness, or even demonic dread, in the field of ordinary life experience.
The force of this shock of numinous recognition can either dismay a weak soul into denial or induce a deterritorialization, a nomadic quest (a la Gilles Deleuze) that itself dreams into manifestation the rhizomatic reality of the entity's deepest yearning for its Source, a traversing of duration into the vertical lift of Dharma that undoes the futile becoming of an illusion, producing a self-erasure that liberates Emptiness as rebirth through the transversal intercourse of immanence with Self-transcendence.
Ironically, the more intellectual knowledge of the deeper realms that has been appropriated by the conscious level of the ego mind, often the more ignorance there tends to be about the actual state of imperient projective identifications that contaminate one's perceptual gestalt as an experient. Knowledge cashed in at the level of manas, or conventional academic intellectualism, is worse than useless. Knowledge established at the level of buddhi, the authentic intelligence of the Real Self, creates viveka, discernment, which initially raises the ante on one's anguish quotient, yet offers the possibility of deep renunciation, sannyasa, and the opening of the famed Buddha Mind.
But the ego's delusion of knowing, the manasic mirage, is doomed to turn ever more tamasic, putrid with impurity. This is the fate of all shamanic knowledge, until surrender of the master's discus of judgmental discourse has achieved the coup-de-grace of the not-to-be scorned Goddess — who is known, when she is friendly, in different localities as either Sophia or Saraswati, and when unfriendly, as Durga, Kali, or Tiamat. Only when She has accepted your swadarshan chakra, the surrender of your power of pure thought, and used it to gracefully slice off your head and has handed it back to you on a platter, can that egoic death's head begin to make sense — and at last to laugh authentically.
This is because every ego suffers from a feeling of lack, and if the compensation mechanism chosen has been that of master's discourse, in the Lacanian sense of it is so because I say it is so', in regard to spiritual, or psychoanalytic, or depth psychological astuteness, the self-image of expertise gets projected as an aggressive and manipulative mask turned toward others, and used as a weapon on behalf of the ego. This itself acts as a blind spot, producing a naïve and unquestioning acceptance of one's own projections misperceived as the projection of externalized others. But more importantly for the lila, the act of arrogantly assuming the role of gyani, or gnostic, activates the wrathful deities within the deeper realms. Soon the archetypal Bhairava, Shiva's hitman, disguised as his beautiful consort, Bhairavi, will be knocking at your door, with an offer you cannot refuse.
The play in the depths functions as an inverse mirror, reversing polarities such as persecutor and victim, subject and object, and of course past and future. This moebius strip show produces the projected effect as a cause of its own emergence, a self-fulfilling prophecy of mutual endarkenment manifested in the return of one's own message from the Other.
This common paradox plagues interpersonal relationships and makes rapport impossible on the ego level. Yet the deep play, the gambhira lila, proves its power to provide a perfect revelation of the ego's structure of lack — in order for the feeling of final vairagya, or dispassion, toward the illusion of egoic identity to increase to the point that it will be gladly sacrificed forever for the sake of peace, if not the ultimate Truth. The rapture of the deep, the call of the Self, will eventually dissolve the ego even of the one who claims, always inaccurately, to have intellectual knowledge of the Supreme.
The gambhira lila is played out on the most profound levels of the soul, but always wreaks havoc with the serenity of the conscious mind, while the laughter of God reverberates through the super-conscious realms that witness the existential ruins razed by the passions, futilely and senselessly projected onto apparently innocent, but irresistible, objects of the senses. The ego is always playing with fire, until it is humbly prostrated to the earth of its original nature, baptized in the water of divine love in the form of its own tears, and breathes the air of the subtlest mind waves of remorse and surrender, as the soul rises into the infinite space of formless Presence, the Holy Spirit at large.
It takes only a simple trace of traumatic insult, repressed by a hyper-sensitive internal censor built into the psychic function matrix, to produce repetitive and irresistible patterns of return of the repressed, inducing a critical short-circuit in one's future, always already manufactured in the long deceased past. The immortality of trauma turns it into a titanic monster that gains strength over lifetimes and can and must be defeated on the battlefield of karmic settlement only through the deliberate destruction of the ego.
So if one carries a trauma, for example a feeling of not being trusted (having, perhaps, acted unworthily in some past incarnation, if not again yesterday), it will manifest as a paranoid interpretation of the attitude of an Other who is specifically sought as the healer of that very wound, because of the perception of the legitimacy of the Other's capacity to recognize one's trustworthiness.
It is this self-defeating unrecognized projection that is the point of the gambhira lila, producing a sudden turn of the tables, and a massive distrust of the same Other, depotentiated thereby as a healing catalyst. Now the wound is again in the saddle, producing in fact in the Other a feeling of distrust toward oneself — the very sort of distrust that had been initially, delusionally, projected. The soul is thereby auto-re-traumatized, thrown back into the sea of suffering through externalization of its own empty promises of egoless action.
Thus comes the moment of truth for the soul. The hysterical event is in full throttle when the understanding dawns, in a sickening recognition of the entire knot of egoic arrogance, that the one that cannot be trusted is one's own conscious mind, run by its invisible boss, the censor in the unconscious. One sees, through the knothole of sudden awakening, that the censor cannot be dismantled without destroying the entire ego structure as a not-whole.
Moreover, one's own self-image as a knower finally demands the hara-kiri of the clueless ego as the only way to save face. Thus, the faithless one comes at last face to face with its faceless omnipresent God.
The deep, hidden play of Shiva and Shakti, at a far more profound level of seven-dimensional Light and Awareness, cascades into the six-dimensional sphere of Purusha and Prakriti, and downward into the cinematic multiplex that is our sin-emetic multiverse, unveiling the fifth-dimensional celestial realm in which Vishnu serenely gazes at Lakshmi in trans-apocalyptic joy, and thence, in the flower of four-dimensional reality, the discarnate/incarnate level of the Real, the eternal moment of divine passion, in which Radha sports uninhibitedly with Krishna — tempting the great blue god with the choice between mahakama and mahabhava: lustful triumph or ecstatic surrender; and finally into three dimensional reality, in which rajasic/tamasic egos clash and clamor for the shadow of that pure love that can still be felt but not located, nor apperceived accurately as the Self alone.
The deep play is, at the end of the day (and of the whole cycle of human history, the kalpa, at which we have arrived) the only play, a multi-dimensional ballet and chess game in which the polarities of the Absolute chase and dance, hide and seek, set traps and pounce, laugh and cry, and love, as only gods and goddesses know how to do. The result of all that rapturous playfulness, the extreme struggle between the angels and demons, is the destruction of Mother Kali's world of war, and the flinging out of Narayana's new swastika of Self-realization, painting on empty space the paradise of perfection that is the home of the high gods, to which we shall soon return — once we are dusted off by a last ignominious return to dust.
The deepest levels of the play cannot even be described in the language of the three-dimensional hockey rink of unholy and unsportsmanlike conduct that we call the world and history. But now we cannot run away. We must fight to the death, even though it is utterly hopeless. Only the Heart in that extremity of helplessness can know the true present, the majestic power of the play of courage in the service of love, when the puck of passion, Death's rasamrita, is served to you by the force of the Supreme One, charging out of the infinite depths, leaping like a white whale out of the dark Ocean of Pure Consciousness. Indeed, Shakespeare was wise enough to salvage the ravaged soul of his tragic hero Macbeth, by depicting him as an utter moral failure, yet still able to face his own deserved destruction fearlessly, defying his destined slayer: "Fight on, Macduff, and damned be he who first cries, Hold! Enough!'"
The gambhira lila only reveals its beautiful fragrance once the lower-chakra versions of the ego have slid into oblivion through revelation, sacrifice, and the gnarly, Marley-like soft sad song of redemption. This, alas, is the way of the Hero. From Arjuna to Osho, from Christ to Koresh, from Absalom to Sabbatai Zevi, from Ali to Omar Mukhtar, from Rama Gita to Armageddon, the power of defeat as prelude to a deeply hidden liberation has been given us as the archetype of the bloodstained bridal walk to the crowning on Calvary. Only such thorns placed regally upon the head of the crucified ego can open the thousand-petal lotus of ultimate bliss.
We are crushed between divided loyalties, defrocked desires for the impossible bliss of binary blending of the best of all worlds. Yet every world is built out of the energy field of pain of the separation of the pairs of opposites. Castrated consciousness can only choose to lie inert between the crusts of conditioning and imagination, slathered with the maya nays of nihilistic dread. Reality is always served up as a sandwich.
The trajectory of monastic Christianity is emblematic, precipitously falling from the monarchic heights of Maximus to the abyss of Merton. The latter squandered his inheritance in a thrill of heresy, building a kama sutra castle in the cloud of unknowing, until struck by the lightning bolt of an Asian revelation, delivered by a faulty electric fan, while his fan club waited for his next sermon on the mounting of his nurse.
The curse of knowledge, descending from the charismatic to the carnal to the charnel, recursively cleaving a canal of regret through the delta of desire's forbidden history, its unstoppable power to shame the soul, to frame the paradigm of impossible purity and posthumous imposture, past the anxiety of opposing influences, is to be forever taunted by the tantric tangent to turn the trick of masquerading debauchery as nonduality. But one can refuse to take the bait, and instead make the sattvic rock climb up the forbidding mountain of kaivalya, the hermetically sealed solitude of Hermes' hermits. Either way, the death drive salivates over its luncheon meat of moistened, failed salvation. Another soul fried in the oil of its own messianic anointing, another order of fast food for the obese atheist to feast upon in its satanic rituals of cynicism.
God save us all! We have chosen to play the ultimate and all too intimate game of naked truthout, and we are in this all together. Only the true siddhas know the way out, only the real Vaishnavs know the way up, only Shiva knows the way in, only Buddha the Zorba knows there is no way at all.
There is no way because there is no world. There is only Brahman, after all. That is the final move, the embarrassment of zugzwang, worse than checkmate, in our inglorious gambhira lila. We must make our move, but every move loses, because the egoic player is only its own daydream, no one is playing at all. We have never existed. There was never any game, except consciousness playing with itself.
Can you believe it? Shall we forget that and do it all again? How fun. Or consciousness can renounce the I-thought, put down the old king's codpiece on the chessboard of one's narrative and resign the mind to the Savior's silence. Every move loses, but Stillness wins.
Salvation is only found in that immovable point, the still point of the turning world, the timeless point where knowing merges once more into Being, revealing its essence as the nectar of indescribably delicious, lethally aware, paradoxically pure, absolute madness of Truth. Silence resounds with the death rattle of the incredible shrinking ego, contracting into the infinitesimal dimension of an undiscovered subatomic particle.
The fate of the ego is finally sealed, as it sees its karma has carved its own initials into the trunk of the tree of life. It has branded its existence as a stain upon the tapestry of divine beauty, and disbanded its demand to be, another dead cat in the quantum sarcophagus, an improbability wave that now waves good-bye. The unbearable elixir of (un)Being, drunk to the dregs of total demolition, turns the ghastly humor of the ghost of Nothingness into the full flood of the Glory of God.
Image by billingham, courtesy of Creative Commons license.