The Art of Multi-Dimensional Living: Chapter One CONVENTIONAL AND ULTIMATE KNOWLEDGE- Aphorisms 1-10

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Chapter One

CONVENTIONAL AND ULTIMATE KNOWLEDGE

Aphorism #1: A prerequisite to full mystical realization is a clear understanding of the distinction between conventional knowledge and Ultimate Knowledge.

Commentary: Conventional knowledge is empirical knowledge gained through the five senses and based in the duality of what appears to be a separate subject and object. In fact, all the traditional issues within western philosophy involve the triad of knower, known and process of knowing and their interrelationships. Those who realize Ultimate Knowledge transcend this triad while acknowledging the existence of these categories as appearances in Consciousness necessary for functioning in the apparent world of duality. See Adi Shankara and representatives of the Buddhist Madhyamika School for further clarifications about these two forms of knowledge.

Aphorism #2: Ultimate Knowledge is called Para Vidya in Sanskrit; conventional knowledge is Apara Vidya. This does not mean that Apara Vidya or conventional knowledge, being merely an appearance, is useless or worthless; on the contrary, it is important for sustaining life. Without life and a healthy mind and body, it is not possble to realize Ultimate Knowledge.

Commentary: One can be a scholar in the various sciences, arts and traditional religions and still only know the names and forms which constitute conventional knowledge. Para Vidya is beyond words, concepts and sensory perception. At the same time, we must be careful to honor Apara Vidya. As stated in Isavasyopanishad: He who knows both Vidya and Avidya conquers death by Avidya and attains Immortality by Vidya.

When the ancient sages suggest that conventional knowledge is only an appearance, they mean that it is ever changing, coming and going, appearing and disappearing; it is a derivative or dependent knowledge. The Ultimate Knowledge does not come and go; It always Is and is Self-Evident.

Aphorism #3: Recognizing the Ultimate Knowledge (Am-ness) is Knowledge through Identity. It is not the same as an experiencer experiencing or understanding some object, since dual experience and understanding are in the realm of conventional knowledge.

Commentary: As long as there is the experience of, and only the experience of, a separate knower knowing a known, or a subject experiencing an object, then Am-ness is not a living reality for that particular psychosomatic organism. The Recognition of Ultimate Knowledge does not mean the loss of perception or ability to function effectively in relative fields of existence.

Aphorism #4: Any attempt to describe the nature of Ultimate Reality requires the use of language which is conventional knowledge and simply serves as a pointer in the direction of the indescribable. Thus, we see the intimate relationship between Ultimate and conventional knowledge.

Commentary: The Absolute is beyond any description, but pointers can be extremely useful in helping an individual strip away his false understanding of the nature of the self. Once all superimpositions are gone, only the Self, the Ultimate Knowledge, remains as an enduring Reality.

Aphorism #5: Different descriptions of, and approaches to, Ultimate Reality exist because there are eight archetypal temperaments, each led by a particular aspect of personality : the physical, the senses, the mind, the intellect, the will, the heart, the ego and the iconoclastic factor.

Commentary: Different spiritual paths and different descriptions of the spiritual goal suit different people. Someone can be enlightened and still not know how to tailor a spiritual approach to the unique needs and inclinations of each seeker. He may also not know how to maximize the functioning of each seeker's psychosomatic organism so that more time and energy are available for Mystical Realization . Only a Master is able to perform both these functions and live up to my definition of a genuine Occult Master. NOTE: Occultism is the subtler part of conventional knowledge which does not depend on input from the gross senses.

Aphorism #6: The Art of Multi-Dimensional Living® is spiritual science for the new millennium. It gives one the keys to self-mastery without the burdensome, invasive trappings which so often accompany the traditional guru-disciple relationship.

Commentary: In the past, access to a true Master was a precious gift and was hard earned. Today, as Christ promised, this gift is available to anyone who seeks it with a pure heart. Christ's promise is found fulfilled through The Art of Multi-Dimensional Living®.

Aphorism #7: There are stages in achieving Mystical Realization, at least from the perspective of those who experience only the dual awareness of a subject perceiving an object. With the Realization of Ultimate Knowledge, it is understood that there are no paths or stages to enlightenment, nor any person who becomes enlightened. Ignorance and enlightenment are both mental constructs by a "knower" who imagines he is bound and therefore needs to be liberated.

Commentary: All seeking, striving and becoming requires the concepts of a knower, process of knowing and known. Realization is a freedom from this duality. To quote Shankara: "As duality does not exist, all the sentences of the Upanishads concerning non-duality of Atman should be contemplated." Does this mean the loss of all ability to function in the world? No, it requires the acceptance of a dual standpoint. Quoting Paul Brunton: "The world exists in precisely the same way for both the simpleton and the sage, but whereas it exists only as is appears in the first case it exists both as it appears and as it really is in the other."

Aphorism #8: In the ancient Veda the Ultimate Knowledge is called Atman (the Self). Atman, in turn, is the same as Brahman (The Origin of all that exists, the Infinite). In the Christian tradition, this same truth is expressed in Christ's statement "I and my Father are One."

Commentary: The teaching of non-duality exists in all the ancient Mystery traditions as well as modern esoteric Christianity. One of the best interpreters of Christian scripture, capable of bringing out fully its theme of Oneness, or, to be more exact, the theme of "not-one, not not-one and there is no second" was Joel Goldsmith, an authentic American mystic and religious teacher (1892-1964) who wrote extensively about God Realization and the means to attain it.

Why give two different names for the same Ultimate Reality? Why call it Atman or Brahman? The Buddhists believe that the use of the name Atman is a misguided attempt to preserve some sense of the individual in relation to Ultimate Reality, and yet, it is quite apparent that the Vedic use of the term in no sense implies an individual self; on the contrary, the term is used in contradistinction to individual selves.

Franklin Merrell-Wolff, in his "Experience and Philosophy", seeks to shed light on this difficult question in the following way:

While both the subjective and objective factors are blended in Absolute Consciousness, yet the unitary quality is carried in the subjective moment. There is but one "I" or subject. Again, this is the most immediate and intimate of all facts. Hence, only through the "I" is Identity realized. Approached in any other way, God (or Brahman) is ever something other than the seeker and, therefore, is at a distance. To come to the Father is to be one with the Father, and this can be achieved only through the pure Subject or the SELF.

My own sense of the matter is that since subjectivity and objectivity are two of the most basic concepts of conventional knowledge, the ancient sages attempted to state Ultimate Truth in reference to both, so that no subtle sense of duality could mistakenly be maintained.

The terms Atman and Brahman are also useful in distinguishing developmental stages of Ultimate Realization with Atman representing the concurrent reality of Self and other (Cosmic Consciousness) while Brahman is the Unity of all subjective and objective factors.

Aphorism #9: The Mystical Realization of Atman or Brahman can be induced through the process of negation (not this, not this) or by focusing on Its positive attributes like Existence (Sat), Consciousness (Chit) and Bliss (Ananda).

Commentary: Negation is used to strip away any sense of the Real being anything which can be conceived in relative terms. It is, thus, a negation of all sense of duality or subject-object distinction. It is also a negation of all the other pairs of opposites like good and evil, manifest and unmanifest, lightness and darkness, etc. Negation provides no positive definition; it even negates the negation. This approach is more suitable for the intellectually inclined, for those who follow the path of Chit.

Those who follow more the path of Bliss or Love (Ananda) like to wax in the more positive attributes attributed to the Divine.

Some move through both paths, either simultaneously or in sequence, and they tend to have a greater appreciation of all three of the aspects of God Realization. All approaches eventually lead to Sat, or the non-dual Identity.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh liked to emphasize that the original Vedic conception of life was more positive than negative, and that different temperaments require different methods. Krishna's approach was more life affirming and Buddha's, more life-denying.

It must be understood that conceptions like Existence, Consciousness and Bliss are not definitions of Ultimate Knowledge, but merely pointers which can connect Ultimate Realization to the basic personality constructs of heart, mind and will.

Aphorism #10: When the process of negation is not understood as applying only to the dualities of the relative mind, it leads to nihilism. When the assertion is made that Ultimate Reality consists of positive attributes, it leads to the doctrine of eternalism.

Commentary: Nihilism denies the reality, value and knowability of a very specified or general class of anything in existence including Ultimate Knowledge. Eternalism seeks to find some ultimate substance which can be identified as the basis of all existence. Both doctrines fail to capture the essence of non-duality. Nihilism and eternalism should be seen as opposite conceptions existing within the relative mind.