MAYA-GAIA INTRODUCTION & SITEMAP         Update 10 20 08

Note: My maya-gaia website, evolving since 1997, is a chronicle of my passing all considered opinion
through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi with both an open-mind and healthy skepticism.

My Personal Neo-Classical Confrontation With the Tension
Between Jnana and Bhakti Yoga

Time is nature's way of making sure everything doesn't happen at once

There is a huge body of philosophical and metaphysical discourse concerning a potential for tension between jnana and bhakti yoga and what dharma and action is "correct" for spiritual realization and integration and whether Buddha, Krishna, Shakti, Gaia, Vishnu, Brahman, Atman, Aum, Cosmic Consciousness or which of thousands of names is chosen for Ishta Devata - the realized conscious singularity.

It is apparent that after a ten-year effort to sufficiently mentally integrate my Nirvikalpa Samadhi experience I have reached a point that is at the root of this discourse. In the words of someone at Open Integral- I have been chasing the basis of my experience into the ontological depths but feel it is time to incorporate some overt devotional action into the remainder of my life. The creation of these samadhi chronicles has been motivated by the literal mission from God that my experience inspired. I've outlined my current philosophical view in the Dual-Nondual Model of reality with a commitment to defending Gaia nature but have yet to actually enter into what could be called a spiritual practice and certainly nothing that could qualify as bhakti. Not surprisingly, my panendeist metaphysics is actually at odds with virtually every tradition and even antithetical to many such as Sankhya philosophy on which Raja Yoga is based that contends that attachment to nature is the cause of the soul's bondage, and detachment from nature is liberation. Consequently I have a problem in adopting almost any devotional practice including yoga, meditation or prayer even in a Unitarian Universalist setting. Actually I might feel comfortable in a bhakti-devotional community on the order of a Bhagavan Das kirtan that features music and chanting in a non-denominational, experience-centered, ecstatic environment for my Sunday services.

In doing background for Kirtan and Bhajan Videos I found this Durga Das video of a California kirtan. If such a stunningly attractive congregation worshiped in my neighborhood, I'm sure I'd be inspired to fulfill my devotional duty with religious regularity- and twice on Sunday.

Perhaps the maya-gaia model of a concurrent nondual/dual reality can- like spacetime and quantum concepts- apply to synthesizing many of the fundamental philosophical dialectics- jnana/bhakti; detachment/engagement; Vedanta/Buddhism; Mahayana/Theravada; Advaita/Dvaita; nirvana/samsara; moshka/bodhi; mind/heart.

My felt challenge is to advance beyond simply feeling gratitude for God's gift of life and insight to demonstrating authentic love and devotion. But already, I find my unequivocal priority in defending our natural environment is already becoming compromised by the realities we face over the need to solve our nation's energy and financial crises. I contend that besides all-of-the-above crash programs for renewable energy- adopting CNG and hybrid vehicles and other conservation strategies- we need to relax restrictions on production of oil and natural gas, clean diesel and liquefied coal and coal tar as well as nuclear power and advance our technology as much as possible to minimize the environmental impact. The Frontline documentary Heat premiered on PBS September 2008 presents a sobering overview of the immense challenge in extracting energy without exacerbating climate change. It suggests that corn- and sugarcane-based biodiesel is no panacea for reducing global carbon emission and could have catastrophic consequences on world food supplies as climate change escalates desertification. Have I then set aside the Gaia imperative in favor of sustaining a contrived standard of living for our American way of life? My rationale is that it is a critical policy for our national security to keep our economy strong (to finance environmental protection) and reduce our dependency on oil from nations who essentially want to either kill us or convert us to Islam. Therefore both intensifying conservation and compromising environmental protection to achieve energy self-sufficiency is a strategy for defending all the freedoms we take for granted against that mortal threat as well as those from other nuclear-armed hegemons.

Update 12/1/16: I've been following the National Geographic TV Channel new series Years of Living Dangerously and am persuaded that climate change poses the most pernicious, existential threat to life on Earth - including all humanity - that requires the U.S. join a global commitment to impose a carbon tax on every venue within their jurisdiction contributing greenhouse gases into Earth's atmosphere and oceans. This includes all military and agriculture, mining, timber, manufacturing, construction, transportation and service industries and both public and private medical, educational, entertainment, recreational, etc. entities. End Update

I'm convinced that any state institutionalizing of a dogma defining divine will is a fundamental perversion and deserves the highest priority to defend against (with some reservation about the implication in one of Bush's doctrines that "liberty" is "God's gift to humanity").

So it is somewhat of an embarrassment that even at age 81 I have failed to spiritually detach from suffering over mankind's mundane crisis and that my only ongoing approximation to Bhakti aside from (past) activities like web developing for our Audubon Society chapter is to assume a Buddhist-like awareness to avoid running over invasive anoles with my bicycle as I try to minimize my carbon footprint. Obviously I am presently in the exploratory stage of formatting a bhakti regimen so will update this page when I make some solid progress.

Update 02 15 2011: In my page Kirtan and Bhajan I describe an effort to organize (see neo-kirtan meetup) weekly kirtan sessions but so far it doesn't look like its going to grow a sufficient membership.

Update 07 31 2011: I am currently evolving a Primordial Rhythm Meditation page outlining a tentative model for an active meditation by which I can practice communion with my Panendeism God. End Update

Update Feb. 2016: I created a youtube audio/video in which I perform my meditation as evolved over three years of practice. End Update

Links That Provide Some Overview of the Classical Dialectic

Bhakti Jnana Tension By Nagendra Kumar Singh Encyclopaedia of Hinduism p 4277.

Misconceptions of Misra and the subtle gradings. There is the idea that becoming too philosophical carries with it the threat of jnana misra bhakti. Srila Prabhupada cleared this misconception in this purport by defining the levels of a devotee in terms of knowledge- those lacking in knowledge are of a lower grade and perform their devotional service primarily out of sentiment. They must elevate themselves in knowledge and act with discrimination on the basis of sastra to become madhyama devotees, steady on the path. On the other hand, jnana misra bhakti is described as an impediment on the path. Clearly two objects with such different results cannot be one and the same thing.

Suddha-Bhakti The very basis of pure devotional life is saranagati which in a word means surrender. The prerequisite for pure devotional service is saranagati. First surrender, then pure devotional service begins. There are many varieties of devotional services performed under the names of karma misra-bhakti and jnana misra-bhakti (fruitive activity and philosophical speculation). However, these are not to be confused with suddha-bhakti or pure devotional service.

Three Paths of the Vedas In the Vedas there are three processes for elevating one to the platform of spiritual consciousness. These processes are called karma, jnana and bhakti. Karma deals mainly with the field of ritualistic performances, and jnana deals with the field of speculative processes. In contrast, bhakti is distinct from both in that it is pure unalloyed love for the Supreme Lord with out any tinge of fruitive inclination or mental speculation.

"A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all the planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries."

Why such a person attains peace from all miseries? If one understands bhotaaram yajna tapasaam, that Krishna is the supreme enjoyer of everything, then naturally one will not try to enjoy the fruits of his work. Hence one will not attempt to be a karmi. If one understands sarva-loka maheshvaram, that the Lord is the supreme proprietor of everything, one will not foolishly think he himself could become the supreme proprietor, Absolute Truth. Hence he would never attempt to be a jnani. And if one knows suhridam sarva bhutaanaam, that the Lord is the supreme well-wisher of all living entities, then naturally one will not try to take the post of well-wishing friend by displaying some cheap siddhis to the ignorant. As such, one will not attempt to become a yogi. Thus one who knows Krishna, as explained by Krishna Himself in the Bhagavad-gita, will surrender to Krishna in full devotion, bhakti, and give up all futile endeavours for karma, jnana, and yoga.

Devotional Poetics and the Indian Sublime By Vijay Mishra- page 59-60: Interpretations of metaphysical aspects relating to jnana misra bhakti referencing two of the most influential commentators on the Bhagavadgita, Shankara (eight-ninth century) and Ramanuja (eleventh century) and their influence on attempts by thinkers to skew the Bhagavadgita and the Mahabharata towards a specific yoga. In the case of Shankara it was jnana, in the case of Ramanuja bhakti.

Wisdom and Devotion - A Comparison of Bhakti (Devotion) and Jnana (Wisdom) Yoga 1979 by Timothy Conway. My presumed readership for this essay will be those interested in the old dialectic exchange between the paths of wisdom and devotion, a dialectic that repeatedly shows up in our Great Spiritual Traditions of East and West- such as between: 1) the bhaktas (devotees) and jnanis (intuitive wisdom sages) in Hindu Vedanta, 2) those drawn to Pure Land devotional Buddhism and those drawn to Ch'an/Zen intuitive Buddhism in China and Japan, 3) adherents of devotional Yidam practices and adherents of the Dzogchen / Mahamudra intuitive view in Tibetan Buddhism, or 4) the devotional theists or intuitive panentheists in the Western religious and mystical traditions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

There is a alternative Vedic tradition that supports the notion that moksha is not attained via the personal effort to satisfy any dharma protocol but requires grace from the personal form of God. The bhakti tradition proposes that a devotional surrendering as in Kirtan is a yoga for inviting grace.

Divine Grace is Required to Attain Moksha Bhakti Yoga Meditation teachings of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Ultimately, final liberation (moksha) is attained through divine grace. Nondual realization is impossible until a jnani adds bhakti or devotion into his practice. The reason for this is that maya is of two kinds: Vidya maya or swaroopavarika maya and Avidya maya or gunavarika maya. As described in the description of samadhi, vidya maya is the original veil of maya, obscuring our essence as soul. Avidya maya is that aspect of maya that causes us to form attachments in the world. Another way to understand this is there are three qualities in maya: satva, rajas, tamas. Rajas and tamas are avidya maya. The jnani can transcend these two through his own effort. After this point, a jnani becomes an atma jnani or self-realized, a knower of his self (the soul). But he is not yet a brahm jnani, a knower of the impersonal aspect of God. Non-dual realization only happens after he transcends the quality of satva, which is vidya maya. But this quality of satva is only overcome through God's grace, not through a jnani's personal effort of any kind. Thus, through gyan practices, a jnani could terminate his avidya maya, but he can't eliminate vidya maya. The jnani who practices devotion to a personal form of God receives God's grace and then his maya ends. If his maya doesn't end, even if he has reached the height of self-realization, he is bound to lose this spiritual accomplishment because he is still under the influence of maya. Grace is only received from the personal form of God. God is one and whatever powers God possesses, He possesses in all His aspects. However, the impersonal aspect of God is called avyakt-shaktik brahm . Avyakt-shaktik means His shaktis, powers, are concealed and inactive. They are there, but dormant. It is merely a nondual divine existence. The giving of grace is a quality of sakar brahm, the personality of God. If a practitioner desires nondual realization, in order for him to transcend maya completely, he must receive grace from this aspect of God, and that is accomplished through bhakti or devotion.