About the Maharthamanjari (1980)
Recently a couple of my students translated from the French and Sanskrit a beautiful 11th century text entitled the Maharthamanjari. This text really is wonderful, in that it expresses some very high spiritual concepts in a simple and profound way. Reading this was a wonderful experience for me, because it was amazing to see the extraordinary extent to which the teachings, and even the concepts and the illustrations that were used in the text, were absolutely applicable to the ideas and concepts that Rudi and I have put forth.
The important idea that the Maharthamanjari puts forth is that, in a sense, there is no scriptural basis for spirituality. Spirituality really has to be tested out in each age, according to a person’s experience and understanding of life. According to Shaivism, the true teaching is transmitted from teacher to disciple--not in a written or oral way, but in a completely mysterious and internalized way. It maintains its continuity, its content and its internal consistency over the ages and continues to manifest regardless of the personalities involved. Even though the teachings may change a little bit with each age, essentially they have a unity which is remarkable. It is a unity which is unstudied. It is a unity which rests upon being firmly established in the teaching and in the experience that is the essence of this text and all other texts that were written.
The interesting thing about this text is that it speaks of the essence of life itself as being very similar to the fragrance of a flower, an extraordinary essence that permeates everything. Once we experience the sweetness of this fragrance, we also experience a kind of indescribable joy that elevates us above the plane of dualistic thinking, dualistic experience, struggles and tensions, and suffering and disappointment. In other words, we are elevated above the plane of ordinary life. We become firmly established in that serene and very beautiful, indescribable experience which is that power of life manifesting in each of us.
This is a wonderful notion. It gives us an opportunity to have an idea of the essence of life right away because there is almost no person who hasn’t at some time in his (her) life smelled a flower and been pleased by it in a deep way. It reminds us of the fact that there are many things in life which are very, very beautiful. The text continues on to encourage us to become established in that which is really beautiful in life, that which is the essence of life, and to transcend the notion that there is anything other than this joy. We should overcome the idea that there is anything else.
Having this understanding, we find within ourselves a kind of absolutely unshakeable peace that is not based upon any notion or idea which is external to ourselves. It is a kind of peace which does not depend upon external events. It is a peace which we experience and which represents our becoming firmly established in the power of God, which is the very life of our life. That power which we experience within our own heart really is God manifesting as our own life. When we become established in this understanding, what possibility is there of being disturbed? What event can we ever encounter which appears to be something different than God expressing herself (himself) as our lives?
This text encourages people to recognize the fact that it is our misunderstanding of the nature of those vital forces within and around us which causes us to be unhappy, experience frustration and to be involved in some kind of unvirtuous or unhappy experience. The text encourages us to examine those experiences and, through the process of examining them, to become pure. Now, it doesn’t say that this is a kind of dualistic purity. In going beyond the dualistic proposition of good and bad, have and have not, and desire and frustration, we begin to see that the source of all the fulfillment and all of our needs exists within ourselves.
Therefore, having discovered this plenitude which is at hand and the very beautiful and extraordinary possibility for fulfillment in the plenitude, we behave in a proper way. It is not proper because of some moral line laid down by the “Lord.” It is proper because this, in fact, is the very structure of life. When we tune into this and we participate in the fundamental unity which is the essence of life, there is no impurity or misunderstanding. There is no misunderstanding which causes us to do harm to ourselves or to anyone else. When we have confidence that this, in fact, is the truth, we no longer behave in an inappropriate manner. No longer are our minds constantly obscuring our vision of the nature of life. The activity of our minds subsides and we see the world for what it really is. We see that essentially the outer world is the same as our inner world. It is a manifestation of the power and the grace of God which, because of our inner effort, we can remain in complete unity with and thereby experience the joy of the cultivation of the inner fruits.
The Maharthamanjari also talks about the inner fruits. It describes the joy of this inner flowering which takes place as a person begins to remove himself (herself) from the idea that life is a struggle. When we start looking within very sincerely, we begin to experience this kind of expansion; we call it growth. Except that truly speaking, once we get established in this experience, we understand that nothing grows except our awareness. By getting established in this expansion of our awareness we understand that the essence of our lives-that energy which motivates us in every respect-is also motivating everyone else. It exists in everyone, and we begin to investigate and discover the real meaning of this inner flow.
The Maharthamanjari encourages us to experience the fragrance of our inner life, our heart of hearts. Having experienced this, delusionary ideas and our critical minds dissolve and perceive intuitively the unity of all of life. We become established in the joy of this fragrance, which is the essence of life itself.
So in whatever way that you can, cultivate your experience of this inner quality through whatever practices you find are meaningful and appropriate to you. Cultivate the experience of this nectar or ambrosia. Cultivate this experience and understand it. When you are established in this, it is very, very difficult for you to do anything wrong. Who would leave the extraordinary happiness that he (she) experiences for a state of tension, violence or brutality? I’ve never met anybody yet. So, cultivate this quality in your own way. Get established in it and examine it carefully. In doing so you attain the highest knowledge that is available to a human being, the deepest understanding that there is. You become absolutely established in this flow of energy and the perfection which is the essence of all manifested life.