Easing Into the 5th Canto
By Kesava Krsna Dasa
The ever pestering power of empirical estimations of this colossal unknown called space still challenges many of us who read the 5th canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. In many cases our “frog in the well” boundaries reluctantly, or sceptically acknowledges the enormous proportions of universal structures described with exacting precision, seeming too certain for comfort.
With this in mind perhaps some considerations can help ease us into the 5th canto descriptions of our cosmos, which is undetectable to primitive radio telescopes and satellites with “high tech” optical capabilities. We need to see invisibility in a different way and not merely as another “cop out” faith based solution. If invisibility actually has substance and reality as opposed to nothingness, then we can better be able to accept the enhanced cognitive revelations of our acaryas in parampara.
Botanical Links to Other Worlds
All over the world there are varying versions of “cave art” revealing inner visions of shamans and allied spirit guides. It is known that these visions are induced by botanical ingestion and other traditional tribal rites. Yet a consistent likeness of these paintings indicates a common shared vision accessible to those who know how.
Some western scholars and intellectual seekers have experimented with these hallucinatory trips carefully guided by experienced shamans. They usually access a fantastic vivid world of nondescript creatures and beings both frightening and strange. The guidance helps to manoeuvre through to more stable observations and avoiding certain dangers.
We usually find that those who did experiment successfully come away convinced that a whole “real” world exists out there, dwarfing our puny sensory perceptions of rocks, skyscrapers and petty human problems. That this world is invisible will inevitably lead most of us to be pessimistic about such claims. But the cave paintings are there for all to see.
The roles of “invisible” ancestors also feature significantly in these visible and invisible exchanges. Many of us, who have ever witnessed our newborn babies staring at one place in a room as though transfixed, smiling and laughing as if communicating with someone, will understand that indeed our substantial ancestors come to visit new additions to the family.
The example of the “invisibility cloak” can help penetrate whatever shades of doubt persist as we study the visions of purified minds and intelligence. The invisibility cloak is no longer a subject of fantasy as portrayed in movies and novels. Prototypes have already been developed by military personnel adept at collateral damage.
These cloaks are able to cover armoured personnel carriers and tanks rendering them “invisible” to enemy vision. An enemy will see only whatever landscape and shrubbery lies ahead with all of its contours and depths. Perhaps if the enemy is equipped with heat seeking devices the cloaks will only have half succeeded. But the cloaks form a purely optical illusion and nothing more, for to remove the cloaks will make visible the reality underneath.
If we bear this in mind as we ourselves progressively de-materialise our mortal frames through the process of Krishna consciousness as we advance, then peering out into the vast expanse of space to see nothing but sparkling luminaries, should tell us there are numerous invisibility cloaks, or varying types of deluding potencies at work, that enable us to see only what astronomical textbooks show. Just as the enemy will apparently “see through” a tank due to optical dynamics, our eyes will also “see through” realms and entities – even right under our noses – while looking out at the night sky. If somehow a telescope or probing satellite were to have lenses and sensors made of mind or intelligence, then the captured visuals should match those of the 5th canto.
The Invisible Ganges
Since Sri Ganga Mata hails from the spiritually invisible causal ocean, she is aprakata, or out of our general sight. She gushes out onto Sri Dhruva Maharaja’s transcendental abode, then on to Lord Brahma’s place and elsewhere. As she comes down her waters adapt to different degrees of perception commensurate with living beings bodily and mental constitutions.
Eventually she descends on to the moon – full of dust and craters as we see it. Just as Sri Vrndavana and Sri Navadvipa dhamas appear dilapidated to our vision thanks to the Mayic veil protection afforded by Lord Siva and his consort, disguising the cintamani reality, the moon planet is similarly covered by the invisibility cloak of earthly sight. Ganga Devi disperses from there and one of her streams reaches our section of Bhu-mandala meant for fruitive actions, where she becomes visible and tangible to us.
Mirrors and Reflective objects
Mirrors and glassy objects have long been a medium for accessing unseen forces living parallel with us. Occultists, Feng Shui practitioners and others, acknowledge the “other dimensional” power of mirrors and sometimes use them for certain purposes.
For example, on the occult side, one can sit in front of a mirror on a full moon night. Having the moon within vision on the mirror one should stare at oneself after having done some basic ritual, and wait for an apparition of ones future marriage partner to appear in the mirror. One can also simply sit and stare at ones reflection in the mirror staring intensely between the eyebrows. After some time ones lower or negative features will appear on the face.
The Ouija board often requires a glass to invite subtle beings for consultation. When invited the beings will not leave that place hence the unpleasant dangers associated with it. The famous, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” has similar occult connotations, and the “Wonders” that Alice saw through the “Looking glass,” are said by some, to have been induced by botanical ingestion.
In Feng Shui mirrors in general are considered portals to subtle realms inhabited by negative elemental beings. For this reason mirrors in bedrooms and similar sensitive places are covered by cloth. If however an appealing or positive visual exists then the mirror should reflect that to increase the effects.
The Portals of the Heart
These infatuations with mirrors and reflective objects have their rightful place in the words and visions of de-materialised pure hearts. Lord Chaitanya immediately launches into His rare written legacy with – ceto darpa marjanam…cetah – of the heart; darpana – the mirror. The mirror is used to describe the reflective power of the heart able to access higher realms.
This ability can make an expanse of an entire universe appear like – vatsa-padam – like a drop of water contained in a calf’s hoof print. Demigods like Sri Yamaraja and his scribes have partial expansive cognitive powers enabling them to perceive the countless sins committed by hell bound individuals within an instant, as if packaged or condensed. It is known that when a person is about to die all of his or her life’s activities in every minute detail are relayed in an instant, so higher beings easily flout our mortal comprehension of Roman time keeping.
For a contented pure vaisnava these issues of doubt and apprehension concerning universal structures have little effect on the inner conviction built by faith. The clean mind and heart takes pleasure within; “I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, whose glory ever triumphantly dominates the mundane world by the activities of His own pastimes, being reflected in the mind of recollecting souls as the transcendental entity of ever-blissful cognitive rasa.” (Brahma-Samhita 42)
However, being possessed of elevated cognitive powers still has limitations as far as our cosmos goes; “Srila Sukadeva Goswami admitted that to give full details of this expansive material universe would be impossible, but nevertheless he wanted to give the King (Pariksit) as much knowledge as he had received through the parampara system.’ (SB 5.16.4 purport)
If our doubts still rage at the incongruent disparities of empirical and saintly observations, then our hearts remain closed and dissatisfied. Our true satisfaction lies in accepting the words of our spiritual masters which help to greatly expand our vision; “Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are mine.” (BG 4.35)
Empirical observations cannot prove the Vedic version of cosmology to be wrong so long as the invisibility cloak of stifling human sensory channels remain blocked. It is better to perhaps give even some grudging admiration for the Srimad Bhagavatam at least for enlightening us to reality; “Our experimental knowledge can neither verify nor disprove the statements of Srimad Bhagavatam…If we can appreciate the extensive energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that will benefit us.” (SB 5.16.10 purport)
Our aim in Krishna consciousness is to have an open reflective heart able to witness de-materialised reality of a loving relationship with the Lord of cognitive rasa and His dear devotees who relish them. A simple and humble plea to desire this can make all the difference and ease our passage into full understanding; “The gopis spoke thus: Dear Lord, whose navel is just like a lotus flower, Your lotus feet are the only shelter for those who have fallen into the deep well of material existence. Your feet are worshipped and meditated upon by great mystic yogis and highly learned philosophers. We wish that these lotus feet may also be awakened within our hearts, although we are only ordinary persons engaged in household affairs.” (SB 10.82.48)
Your servant, Kesava Krsna Dasa – GRS.
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