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Relational Models of Reality and the Self
This is the first of two essays contributed to the Library by Transformation Coach Trevor Kuchar after his attendence at Event 2.
One of my favorite models of reality comes from the Veda’s; they didn’t really have a cut and dry example of how one could just acknowledge Reality and reach enlightenment like Jesus Christ gave us, instead they had to pay attention to themselves through mindfulness and notice how choices and behavior affected themselves – in other words, they did everything the hard way, from scratch. I like it because it describes the way I learn very well and has been the most effective for my own personal growth and understanding. This model comes from the Upanishad’s, Yogi sutras, and the Atma Bodha.
The Supreme Self is all things, one with Brahman and the universe, and therefore simply is. At some point in eternity, additional Beings were created, and at some other point, the Idea was formed that these beings were somehow separate or different from everything. This Idea, empowered with the pure creative energy of Brahman, became so – for Ideas shape reality (but cannot affect Reality, as that is not subject to change). This caused a cascade of Ideas to occur in the attempt to prove and validate the idea of separation; and thus, our reality came into existence. But no matter how complex the reality was, it was only an illusion and not able to disprove the true Reality, which could always be felt and recognized. One way to view the layers of illusion that disguise Reality is to think of them as sheaths or covers, referred to as the 5 Kosha in the Atma Bodha. These sheaths cover our perception of the Self and entice us with the opportunity to identify with them rather than ignore them and realize the Self. Since we are empowered with the power of creation, our Ideas and choices make our reality. These Kosha are arranged in a relational and hierarchical way based on causation and how we tend to identify with them, but there is no reason why we can’t skip them entirely and just reach enlightenment.
Annamaya Kosha – The Food Sheath. … The BODY This layer represents all physical things, the food that we eat, the air we breathe, chemical reactions, neurons, etc. Any physical form, reaction or effect in the body. Upon death, this sheath returns to its component parts to supply parts for other bodies to be formed.
Pranamaya Kosha – The Vital Energy Sheath. … ENERGY This layer represents the Prana or Energy that courses through the world empowering it with vitality and the ability to manifest and affect reality. It is often perceived as having lots of energy when having fun, fatigue when depressed, or in energy healing like Reiki. This sheath also returns to the world upon death and is available for use at will.
Manomaya Kosha – The Mental Sheath. … the EGO This layer represents our identity and standard operation procedures for life, it manages the use of the body and energy layers to create and interact with the world. It doesn’t make decisions, rather it reacts according to its programmed nature. This sheath is part of the causal bodies and is carried with us beyond death and holds that identity along with the Karma and Samskara of previous incarnations.
Vijnanamaya Kosha – The Intellectual Sheath. … the INTELLECT This layer is where the dualistic self would like you to believe that we make decisions. This is the layer that programs the Ego layer and established the automated reactions; this layer has the power to respond to stimulus, rather than simply react. It is here that we can change the way that our Ego identifies and bases its actions on. It also continues beyond death and strives to maintain the separation.
Anandamaya Kosha – The Bliss Sheath. … IGNORANCE This layer is the thinnest and closest to Brahman, so thin that it is easily (and purposefully) mistaken for the true freedom of the Self. It is the most subtle and the one that, according to scripture, is the only one that we cannot will/desire ourselves thru, but by letting go of even the desire to go thru it and just to be, we are.
To put this model into a more relatable perspective, I am going to take some serious poetic liberties, but I feel that the relationships and abstract message are being captured. This is the Starship Enterprise, which I hope many here are familiar with to make sense of this analogy:
To boldly go where no man has gone before…. The BODY: In order to survive and explore space, the final frontier, we need a vehicle. One that is suited for the environment and able to effectively interact with whatever is found there. Here we have the Spaceship, with engines, computers, sensors, and photon torpedoes. Often when alien lifeforms are first encountered, it is the spaceship they see first and identify as the new being, until they get to know the crew. Even the crew, often identifies as being part of the Enterprise – you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.
The ENERGY: Di-lithium crystals, it powers the ship – propulsion, weapons, life support, holodeck, computers, etc… Fairly self-explanatory, has been shown to be manipulatable internally, by Scotty, and by other beings, such as the Borg and Q.
The EGO: Here we have the Bridge Crew, the obvious cast of the show, and what other characters tend to identify the Enterprise as and with. We have the:
- Helmsman, who pilots the ship around space. Movement and coordination
- Science Officer, responsible for analytics, memory and academic knowledge
- Engineering officer/Medical officer, responsible for the metabolism of fuel and maintenance of energy systems and crew
- Diplomat/Counselor, responsible for empathy, considering the side of the other party and emotions onboard the ship
- Master-at-Arms/Gunnery, fight or flight and physical confrontation
- Communications, responsible for using the comms tools of the ship to contact external beings
- Security Officer, responsible for your protection. The security officer takes the job extremely seriously and due to the important nature of the job, has access to all the sensors and can override any other system if it means keeping the ship safe. The security officer, to be able to do all of that well, has to work off of the most automated protocols and standard operating procedures. When an issue that SEC brings to the captain’s attention is ignored, overrides and protocols are set in motion to protect the ship and crew.
Another word for the Security Officer is FEAR, fear keeps you running when dogs chase you, puts your hands out when you fall, and keeps you away from known dangers – it keeps you safe. As it was tasked to do, BY YOU. So, if you don’t like when fear acts on its own and starts kicking of ships systems, like adrenaline or prevents you from taking action, try listening to it and acknowledging its requests. You may find that the SOP that it is working from is decades out of date, reacting from a 3-year old’s perception of abandonment or some such. I recommend including it in the conversation about external stimulus and when its protocol isn’t helping the situation, update them… and show some gratitude for the amazing job that fear has been doing to keep you alive all these years
- Captain – whether it be James Tiberius Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard – the captain is the voice of the mission, sets the tone of the crew, and provides the default response to any new situation. This is your classic ego. It could be a misogynistic, judo chopping, love machine or a reasonable, cultured and deeply moral bald guy. Whatever that happens to be is usually how other people see the whole Enterprise in the end. The captain is tasked with completing the mission, explore, be curious, be defensive, be aggressive, fuck anything that walks, over-achieve, report everything back to headquarters, ask permission before acting, take everyone else’s option into consideration, please the world, solve everyone’s problems, ETC.
None of these crew members is the physical ship, but they control the ships actions, systems, and perceptions. They also have backstories, like Karma, that inexplicably complicate the plot; and they take orders – and can be changed.
The INTELLECT: We have talked about the Ship and Crew already, so what is left in this analogy? The United Federation of Planets? Nope, that is external to the Enterprise and often not even mentioned in most episodes. So, what determines the protocols and reactions of the Crew (EGO)? Imagine looking at a scene on the bridge, the crew running around deciding how to handle the main antagonist of the current episode. Now, imagine that these actions and characters are without form other than a concept of what is happening, more agnostic of feeling and more deterministic, like words on a page. In this analogy, the INTELLECT layer is the script of the episode, at the mercy and direction of the author, pen in hand. The writer has the power to change any response, scene, feature, or challenge that faces the party, forcing its hand to create an opportunity for character growth. It knows everything about the world of Star Trek, calls situations into being, writes out a character, or determines how a character will react in the story. The writer doesn’t write arbitrarily, it keeps the story likable and relevant, there is a higher mission and continuity to the whole series. But in truth, anything can happen with a decision and the stroke of a pen – 2 loafs of bread feeds a multitude, the mostly dead return to the living, Deus ex Machina.
The BLISS or IGNORANCE: This layer is the page that the author writes upon, the blank page on which anything is possible, any story, any script, any image – the bliss of any possibility occurring anywhere anyhow – as long as it occurs on this page. The ignorance is that the author thinks his power and choices are restricted to this page at all and that only on this page can the writer create worlds.
ENLIGHTENMENT: Enlightenment is the realization of the Self as the Author -not the page, not the words, not the story, the rules of the created world, the characters, the villains, or the ship. Neti, neti, neti – Not this, not this, not this. Enlightenment is the Author setting down the pen, saving the blank paper for later creations, and going down the street to get a bite to eat at the new vegan restaurant called Nirvana.