The answers given here are by necessity short. They scratch the surface of a profound and complex issue. The readers are encouraged to refer to works of Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii for elaboration of different concepts.
Q 1: What Is?
A 1: This question defines the domain of ontology. The fundamental stuff of being, the essence of the universe, consists of consciousness called Brahma- which is the composite of Cognitive Faculty and Operative principle, rather than matter, energy or ideas. Complex organizations, such as atoms, molecules, space and time, living beings, minds and societies emerge out of Supreme Consciousness through the process of transmutations and metamorphosis. Microvita – the emanations from Cosmic Entity- are instrumental in maintaining both equilibrium and equipoise in the universal strata- in the physical, physico-psychic, psychic and psycho-spiritual realms.
Q 2: Why is there something rather than nothing?
A 2: The state of apparent cosmic void- nothingness is only a relative state. There is consciousness everywhere. Only when the Prakrti is dormant, the consciousness appears without any manifestation and is called Non-Attributional Consciousness. That state is sometimes referred to as “shunya”-nothingness. But actually, the seeds or potentiality of expression lie embodied within this Nirgun’a Brahma. Hence, to call it `shunya´ or `nothingness´ is a misnomer. Something cannot come out of nothing. So if this universe exists, it must have an origin or source. The source of everything is the Nirgun’a Brahma.
Q 3: Why is the world the way it is?
A 3: The `evolution´ takes place through physical clashes, psychic clashes and longing or the Attraction of the Great (Supreme Consciousness). The world is in constant transition towards higher and higher levels of self-organization in order to free itself from the shackles of Prakrti. The cycle of creation begins from the Subtlest Entity and reaches the climax at the crudest manifestation and then travels on towards returning to the source. Nirgun’a Brahma is the starting point and the terminus of all movements in the world. All other movements are mere transitory states.
Q 4: Where does it all come from?
A 4: Human mind cannot ordinarily comprehend the source of its existence since it is itself an effect and the knowledge of primal cause eludes it. To know the primal cause of creation, one will have to step behind. Mukta Purus’a or an emancipated being is exactly that level of being who is unaffected by the influence of Prakrti and can, therefore, reveal the motivation of creations and dissolutions. Nirgun’a Brahma is non-attributional and so it cannot be the direct cause of manifested world. It is Sagun’a Brahma- the Attributional stance of Supreme Consciousness which allows the dexterous Prakrti to crate a variegated world through the infinite power of its sentient, mutative and static principles. In this process, the cosmic mind, microvita, elementary particles, atoms, molecules, living cells, multi-cellular organisms, animals, people and society come into being. The transmutations and metamorphosis continues until each entity returns to the primordial state of Nirgun’a Brahma.
Q 5: Where do we come from?
A 5: Homo-sapiens (human beings) are a step in the evolution of species and evolved out of animals that had the capacity to learn associations from the environment, by additionally developing the capacity to think or display powers of the mind. Human thought is rooted in the emergence of symbolic language. However, human being is also repository of clearly reflected consciousness and that is what makes him or her a divine being, capable of performing intuitional practice and ultimately to unite with highest subtlest consciousness- Nirgun’a Brahma.
Q 6: Who are we?
A 6: Humans are considered to be the most advanced creatures on this planet and occupy a high position in the hierarchy of meta-systems. Our capacity for thought distinguishes us from the animals or other creatures by giving us uniquely human characteristics, such as self-consciousness, tool-making, imagination, capacity of visualization, play, sense of humour and aesthetic feelings. We are also capable of performing higher intuitional practices and thereby control emotions and cultivate universal love. On the other hand, we are also capable of degrading our mind to utmost crudity and destroy the sacred opportunity to attain moks’a (self-realization or liberation from the bondage of Prakrti). We have yet to demonstrate that we can build a peaceful society where everyone can enjoy the maximum amenities and equal opportunities for physical, mental and spiritual growth.
Q 7: Where are we going to?
A 7: We are in a state of constant transition towards increasing complexity, adaptivity and use of intelligence. As we learn to use the hidden powers of body, mind and spirit – we are being propelled to find the equilibrium and equipoise in every sphere of life. What has so far been done by the cosmic mind will gradually be taken over by the unit minds, in greater or lesser degrees, in gradual steps. Despite developments in science, technology and the arts- human beings will always have to resort to the intuitional practices in order to unite with the Highest Consciousness in the spiritual stratum. So, we may be headed to a spiritually inspired, enlightened, wisdom-based society, without it, we may head to our destruction or even extinction.
Q 8: What is the purpose of it all?
A 8: Evolutionary process is characterized by increasing complexity, adaptivity and intelligence. However, that is only an external goal. The inner spirit of evolutionary process is to manifest the hidden longing for unison with Highest Consciousness. All creatures strive for incessant flow of happiness. Our merger in Cosmic Consciousness is culmination of our thirst for limitless happiness. To be happy and make all others happy is the purpose of it all. One can achieve this through cultivating universal love and putting it into action for the welfare of all.
Q 9: Is there a God?
A 9 : To consider an Entity that is outside of the universe as God would mean putting limits on that Entity. God stands for Generator, Operator and Destructor – the entity which creates, maintains and sublimates. In that sense, the Supreme Consciousness alone represents the concept of God. It is known in religious cultures by different names. Fundamentally, God is one and it is all pervasive and therefore it resides even in our own `I´ feeling. To realize God, we do not need to look for sacred places outside but dive deep in the core of our own being.
Q 10: What is good and what is evil?
A 10: Anything that brings us in closest proximity to the Supreme Consciousness is fundamentally good and anything that takes us away from that cosmological hub is evil. In an unending cycle of birth and death, we are constantly moving but if our distance from the Cosmic Nucleus remains the same or increases, we are not progressing. Any action that helps to preserve our existence, to express our hidden potentialities and bring us in the closest proximity to the Nirgun’a Brahma may be considered `moral´ or good. Good and bad are otherwise relative in nature. No action is intrinsically or permanently good or bad.
Q 11: What is knowledge?
A 11: This question defines the domain of epistemology. In the old RK vedic language `ji?a´ or `vid´ meant “to know”. The verb `ji?a´ invented by the ancient Aryans was changed into “keno” in old Semitic language, in old Latin “keno”, in Bengali “jnya” and in modern English “know”. As the original spelling of the word is keno, we still spell the word with “k” in the beginning without actually pronouncing it.
In the mechanical sphere, knowing or the functional side of knowledge occurs on perceiving special types of reflections and refractions, but in the psychic sphere, it occurs as a result of the subjectivization of objectivity or objectivities. In essence, knowing oneself is the real knowledge and all other sorts of knowledge are mere umbras and penumbras of knowledge. The goal of all knowledge is to help us to unite with Supreme subjectivity. The best way to connect with Supreme Subjectivity is to bear in mind that in all actions – big or small, significant or insignificant, done in wakeful state or in sleep, in dream or in hard reality – – the Supreme Consciousness is maintaining a constant or close vigil on me. Thereby the subjectivity as such does not come within our objectivated mind, but the ideation of the Supreme Subjectivity becomes objectivated. When this ideation becomes most conspicuous, most stable and permanent, we find ourselves established in the final stage of the faculty of knowledge.
Q 12: What is Truth?
A 12: Everything of this relative world is subject to change as per changes in time, space and person. Hence, this world is called relative truth. The `truth´ of a theory is merely its power to explain and produce predictions that are confirmed by observations. In the relative world, there cannot be any `absolute´ truth. However, the Supreme Cognitive Faculty of Supreme Consciousness always remains in its original stance and never undergoes any change. So it is called Absolute Truth. The changes which appear in the universe are caused due to the varying binding influence of Prakrti (Cosmic Operative Principle) over Purus’a (Cosmic Cognitive Faculty). That is why, Truth is always one and Its essence is always one.
Q 13: What is Consciousness?
A 13: `To be conscious´ means `to be aware´. While in deep sleep, coma or in death, we are not aware of our existence and therefore we are called un-conscious. However, in the dream or awake stage, there is always a part of our mind which is awake and therefore gives us the sense of knowership of our existence. Ultimately, the mind also cannot be aware unless there is something that witnesses its functioning. The subtlest level of awareness in us can be called unit-consciousness .It qualifies the existence of our mind. Without it, mind would not be conscious at all. That is why, the entity beyond mind is called Consciousness. It lends its power of awareness to mind and enables it to become cognizant of its bearing. The totality of all unit-consciousness is called Cosmic-Consciousness or Supreme Consciousness. Hence, Supreme Consciousness is the omni-telepathic entity that is all-knowing and ultimate knower of everything. Our mind reflects the power of consciousness based on its subtlety. The crude mind cannot feel the power of consciousness but the subtle minds can fully reflect and feel the presence of consciousness. To some extent, every mind can sense its environment and has some capability of sending and receiving signals. Hence, it is a conscious entity. Robots too can be infused with that power but the true repository of awareness lies only in the Supreme Cognitive Faculty alone. It manifests its power with the help of Prakrti- Cosmic Operative Principle. That is why, consciousness is always referred to as the composite of Cognition(Shiva) and Energy(Shakti). Its rank varies depending on the degree of influence of Shakti over Shiva. In Nirgun’a Brahma, Prakrti has no influence and in `matter´, it has its greatest binding influence.
Q 14: Do we have a “free-will”?
A 14 : Human mind is endowed with an uncanny ability to “think freely” and “choose” between different possibilities. This has given the impression to evolutionists that there is no pre-determined future. Because of the capacity for thought, humans are not only free to choose between given possibilities, but also able to conceive novel possibilities and explore their consequences. The unpredictability implied by quantum mechanics has also done away with the Newtonian world view, in which future events are predetermined following the law of cause and effect viz.,“Each action has an equal and opposite reaction.”
However, we also know that we are not absolutely free. We are conditioned by our past, by our present and limited view of the future. While we are capable to respond to human constraints, we do have some freedom of action. It would be more correct to say that humans have a “free will” only within the jurisdiction of their mental capacities. Beyond it, we are just like puppets in the hands of the puppeteer. Just as cow is tied with a long string and moves about thinking that it has freedom of movement, we too are tied by a long string of “unit-mind” and carry a false notion of total free-will. Rather, in the ultimate, our future also is at the mercy of the Supreme Cognitive Faculty who through the noose of Prakrti (cosmic operative principle) keeps us bound in this mortal world. We must always act but the fruits of our actions are always in our hands. That is why, the wise do not stay attached to their actions or to the fruits thereof. We must do our best and leave the rest to the Supreme Consciousness.
Q 15: How should we act?
A 15: The universe is sustained by actions (karma). Where there is any expression, there is invariably vibration (spandan) and behind the vibration, there is action—be it physical, physico-psychic, psychic, psycho-spiritual, or spiritual. Inaction is indicative of death, not of life. For the sake of self-preservation even, we need to engage in some action. Furthermore, every action gives rise to reactions—be they in potential form (Samskaras) or ready to be experienced (bhoga). We are tied to our actions and reactions and this cycle keeps us tied to the noose of Prakrti (cosmic operative principle). As long as we remain engrossed with individual ‘i’-feeling, we remain tied to the reactions of the actions performed by our ‘i’ feeling. This keeps us yoked to the cycle of birth and death. Only when we identify our i-feeling with Supreme Brahma(Cosmic Consciousness), we can begin the process of dis-identification with our little `i´. When our i-feeling is completely ensconced in the Supreme-subjectivated “I”-feeling, we can begin to get freed from the vicious cycle of karmas. Good actions yield good results and bad actions yield bad results—yet both good and bad actions are like chains. Good actions may be called chains of gold and bad actions as chains of iron. The proper way to act is to first get established in cosmic-ideation and then perform actions as an instrument of Divine. The practical process of this science of action can be learnt from the spiritual teachers (acharyas) of Ananda-Marga. This practice leads to annihilation of Samskaras (reactive momenta) and ultimately brings Mukti (Liberation) and Moks’a (Emancipation or Salvation or liberation of a permanent nature.)
Q 16 : How can we be happy?
A 16: Happiness is a state of mind. Some become happy with little possessions and some are unhappy despite their enormous accumulated wealth. H=w/d. Happiness is wealth divided by our desires. If we are not established in santos’a (contentment), no amount of wealth can enhance our happiness. Hence, self-restraint and self-control is essential to control our desires. Happiness is most common in societies which provide sufficient purchasing power to all its citizens, proper affordable health care, free education, personal freedom and equality. Happy people tend to be self-confident, open to experience and have good personal relations. In the end, those who have attained mastery over all their vrttis (mind and its expressions) are most likely to experience inner peace and a state of tranquility, equipoise and permanent happiness. True happiness stems from the philosophy of “Live and let others live.” Genuine happiness will come only when the needs of all are satisfactorily met and the disparities are wiped out. Diversity is healthy for a progressive social and economic order but disparities are a bane (curse) of the human society. An all-round renaissance which will unite the entire human family by a cosmic-ideal and benevolent philosophy alone is the panacea for creating a happy world. Of course, to actualize these ideals, proper education must be imparted to one and all from the early age. Actions inspired by universal love (neo-humanism) can convert unhappy world into a happy world.
Q 17 : Why cannot we live forever?
A 17: Evolution has predisposed us to age and die because fitness is achieved more easily by fast reproduction than by long life. Aging is the result of a variety of deterioration processes. It is unlikely that we will achieve biological immortality in the near future, in spite of a constantly increasing life-span. Yet, we live not only on the physical plane. We also carry a mind and consciousness which transcends temporal and spatial barriers. We achieve immortality only when our unit-mind merges in the eternal cosmic-mind and our unit-consciousness gets united with Supreme Consciousness. “Oneness in objectivity leads to oneness in subjectivity.” When our mind expands, our consciousness automatically widens its horizons. Supreme Consciousness alone is immortal and never dies. We too can attain immortality by uniting with that Cosmic Ocean of Consciousness. At that stage, we become omni-telepathic, omniscient, and omni-present. One who attains that stage is called Mukta-Purus’a (liberated soul). The Mukta-Purus’a is uninfluenced by the binding principle (Prakrti) and can guide others also to attain emancipation. True sad-guru (Preceptor) is one who has attained that exalted rank. Such a preceptor leads a moral and exemplary life and becomes a beacon-light for humanity for all times. In the past, Sada-Shiva, Shrii Krs’na won the admiration of humanity. Similarly, Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii left a rich legacy for sincere spiritual seekers for all time to come. Such personalities never die. Their consciousness and grace lives forever—and guides genuine spiritual seekers irrespective of caste, creed, nationality, race or social and economic status. They belong to the whole humanity and their ideas contribute to the happiness of entire living world and human civilization.
Q18 : What is the meaning of life?
A 18: The first and foremost goal of every creature is to secure its survival (Asti.) hence, the entire humanity must come together to ensure the survival of all species and to preserve the bio-diversity at all costs. In this endeavor lies the compassion of developed creatures of this universe. To deprive anyone the right to exist is suicidal for entire humanity. Second, each creature is endowed with some unique potentialities and capabilities. All species of flora and fauna also carry their unique capacities. Even so-called inanimate objects possess unique specialties. We must, therefore, understand those hidden capabilities of one and all. If we understand, we are more likely to preserve those treasures of the universe and utilize them optimally for the welfare of all. So Bhati or Sustainable and Progressive development is the second task for human beings on this earth.
Finally, the ultimate aim of human life is attainment of Anandam or Parama-Purus’a (Supreme Consciousness)—the desideratum of our total life journey. It may take one life time or a million years but sooner or later, we must establish ourselves in the grand splendor of the all-pervasive Cosmic-Consciousness. We are travelers on the path of eternity. While moving towards that subjective goal, we also need to maintain an objective adjustment with temporal, spatial and personal boundaries of this relative world. Hence, our journey should be a proper, well-balanced continuous journey. That is why, “Self-realization (Atma Moks’artham) and Service to Humanity (Jagat Hitayaca)” alone can be the lasting motto for entire humanity. This will make our life meaningful and blissful at the same time. This is the unifying positive philosophy for entire humanity as propounded by Shrii Shrii Anandamurtiiji (1921-1990).
Q 19. What is the root cause of poverty in the world?
A 19 : Despite all the aid that has been provided year after year, the poverty has not been eliminated from this world. The root cause of poverty is the exploitative mentality that underlies all aid and charitable efforts. Charity cannot solve the long term problems. It can only provide a brief breathing space from the cruel impact of defective socio-economic orders prevalent in the world. Hence, the sure way to eliminate poverty is to raise socio-economic consciousness through the messages of PROUT as propounded by late philosopher seer Shri P.R.Sarkar. PROUT stands for Progressive Utilization of material,psychic and spiritual potentialities for the good of all,rather than for just a few. PROUT calls for preservation of maximum bio-diversity and complete elimination of all unjust disparities. PROUT attempts to replace a philosophy of insecurity by a philosophy of abundance & maximum amenities for one and all. It does this by bringing our socio-economic systems in total alignment with bounties of nature which are inherently abundant.
Q 20: Isn’t technology the panacea for solving all the problems facing the planet?
A 20: Appropriate use of technology is a potent driving force for hastening the change towards a progressive and happier world. However, technology by itself cannot deliver peace and prosperity to this world. Technology is only a means, a tool. When used appropriately by just people and for good intentions, it can save us from much human suffering. On the other hand, when it is used by vested interests, it can cause much havoc to all species on the earth and even delay the movement towards a progressive and happier world. Hence, it is important that arts, science and technology must be goaded towards universal welfare and blessedness. Neo-humanist values exemplified by service-minded visionaries or leaders (sadvipras) and supported by a widespread adherence to sentient life style with in an exploitation-free socio-economic order alone can ensure a blissful world. Let all the righteous forces of the world unite under the banner of One Cosmic Ideology and bury all narrow sentiments and hasten the advent of a genuine cosmic-family . Such an ideology can usher in an all round renaissance in all spheres of life , liberate human intellect from all dogmas and we may lead us to experience a true paradise on earth for the first time.