Sunday, November 02, 2008



SOME RANDOM READINGS: For the western mind, the personality is eternal. It is indestructible, not to be dissolved. This is the basic idea in the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body, the resurrection being our regaining of our cherished personality in a purified form, worth to fare before the majesty of the Almighty. That personality is thought to go on forever -- even though, by a curious inconsistency, it is not believed to have existed anywhere, in any state or form, previous to the carnal birth of the mortal individual. The personality did not exist in extra-human spheres, from all eternity, before its temporal earthly manifestation. It is declared to have come into being with the mortal act of procreation, and yet is supposed to go on after the demise of the procreated mortal frame: temporal in its beginning, immortal in its end.

The term "personality" is derived from the Latin PERSONA. PERSONA, literally, means the mask that is worn over the face by the actor on the Greek or Roman stage; the mask "through" (per) which he "sounds" (sonat) his part. The mask is what bears the features or make-up of the role, the traits of hero or heroine, servant or messenger, while the actor himself behind it remains anonymous, an unkown being intrinsically aloof from the play, constitutionally unconcerned with the enacted sufferings and passions. Originally, the term PERSONA in the sense of "personality" must have implied that people are only impersonating what they seem to be. The word connotes that the personality is but the mask of one's part in the comedy or tragedy of life and not to be idenfied with the actor. It is not a manifestation of his true nature, but a veil. And yet the western outlook -- whioch originated with the Greeks themselves and was then developed in Christian philosophy--has annulled the distinction, implied in the term, between the mask and the actor whose face it hides. The two have become, as it were, identical. When the play is over the PERSONA cannot be taken off; it clings through death and into the life beyond. The Occidental actor, having wholly identified himself with the enacted personality during his moment on the stage of the world, is unable to take it off when the time comes for departure, snf do krrpd it on infrginitrly, got millrnniumd-- even eternities--after the play is over. To lose his PERSONAL would mean for him to lose every hope for a future beyond death. The MASK HAS BECOME FOR HIM FUSED, AND CONFUSED, WITH HIS ESSENCE.

Indian philosophy, on the other hand, insists upon the difference, stressung the distinction between the actor and role. It continually emphasizes the contrast between the displayed existence of the individual and the real being of the annonymous actor, concealed, shrouded, and veiled in the costumes of the play. Indeed, one of the dominant endeavours of India thought throughout the ages has been to develop a dependable technique for keeping the line clear between the two. A meticulous defining of their interrelationships and their modes of collaboration, as well as a practical, systematic, and courageously enforced effort to brfeak from the confines of the one into the unfathomed reaches of the other, has been carried on for ages -- primarily through numerous introspective processes of yoga. Piercing and dissolving all the layers of the manifest personality, the relentlessly introducing it in all of its stratifications, arrives at the ANNONYMOUS AND STRANGELY UNCONCERNED ACTOR OF OUR LIFE.


Although in the Hindu and Buddhist texts vivid descriptions of the traditional hells or purgatories are to be found, where appalling details are dwelt upon minutely, never is the situation quite the same as that of the afterworlds of Dante and Ulysses, filled with celebrities long dead who still retain all of the characteristics of their personal masks. For in the Oriental hells, though multitudes of suffering beings are depicted in their agonies, none retain the traits of their earthly individualities. Some can remember having once been elsewhere AND KNOW WHAT THE DEED WAS THROUGH WHICH THE PRESENT PUNISHMENT WAS INCURRED, nevertheless, in general, all are steeped and lost in their present misery.
Just as any dog is absorbed in the state of being precisely whatever dog it happens to be, fascinated by the details of its present life – and as we ourselves are in general spellbound by our present personal existences—so are the beings in the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist hells. They are unable to remember any former state, any costume worn in a previous existence, but identify themselves exclusively with that which they now are. And this, of course, is why they are in hell.
Once this Indian idea has struck the mind, then the question immediately presents itself: WHY AM I BOUND TO BE WHAT I AM? Why have I to wear the mask of this personality, which I think and feel myself to be? WHY MUST I ENDURE ITS DESTINY, THE LIMITATIONS, DELUSIONS, AND AMBITIONS OF THIS PECULIAR PART THAT I AM BEING DRIVEN TO ENACT? Or why, if I have left one mask behind me, am I now back again in the limelight in another, enacting another role and in a different setting? WHAT IS COMPELLING ME TO GO ON THIS WAY, BEING ALWAYS SOMETHING PARTICULAR—AN INDIVIDUAL, WITH ALL OF THESE PARTICULAR SHORTCOMINGS AND EXPERIENCES? Where and how am I ever to attain to another state—that of not being something particular, beset by limitations and qualities that obstruct my pure, unbounded being?

Can one grow into something devoid of any specificity of shade and colour, undefined by shape, unlimited by qualities: something unspecific and therefore not liable to any specific life?
Thes are the questions that lead to the experiment of asceticism and yoga practice. They arise out of a melancholy weariness of the will to live – THE WILL GROWN TIRED, AS IT WERE, OF THE PROPSPECTS OF THIS ENDLESS BEFORE AND AFTER, AS THOUGH AN ACTOR SHOULD BECOME SUDDENLY BORED WITH HIS CAREER., The doom of this timeless course of transmigration: FORGOTTEN PAST AND AIMLESS FUTURE!
WHY DO I bother being what I am: man, woman, peasant, artist rich or poor? Since I have impersonated, without remembering, all olf the possible attitudes and roles—time and time again, the lost past, in the worlds that have dissolved—why do I keep going on?
One might very well come to loathe the hackneyed comedy of life if one were no longer blinded, fascinated, and deluded by the details of one’s own specific part. If one were no longer spellbound by the plot of the play in which one happened to be caught for the present, one might lvery well decide to resign—give up the mask, the costume, the lines, and the whole affair. It is not difficult to imagine why, for some, IT MIGHT BECOME SIMPLY A BORE TO GO ON WHICH THIS PERMANENT ENGAGEMENT, ENACTING CHARACTER AFTER CHARACTER IN THIS INTERMINABLE STOCK COMPANY OF LIFE.
When the feeling comes of being bored with it or nauseated (as it has come, time and time again, in the long history of India) then life revolts, rebels against its own most elementary task or duty of automatically carrying on. Growing from an individual to a collective urge, this leads to the founding of ascetic orders, such as those of the Jaina and the Buddhist communities of homeless monks: troops of renegade actors, heroic deserters, footloose and self-0exiled from the universal farce of the force of life.
The argument—if the renegades would bother to justify themselves—would run like this:
“Why should we care what we are? What real concern have we with all those parts that people are continually forced to play? Not to know that one has already enacted every sort of role, time and time again—beggar, king, lanimal, god—and that the actor’s career is no better in one than in another, is truly a pitiable state of mind; for the most obvious fact about the timeless engagement is that all the objects are situations of the plot have been offered and endured in endless repletion through the millenniums. People must be completely blind to go on submitting to the spell of the same old allurements; enthralled by the deluding enticements that have seduced every being that ever lived; hailing with expectation, as a new and thrilling adventure, the same trite deceotuins if desure as have been experienced endlessly; CLINGING NOW TO THIS, NOW TO THAT ILLUSION—ALL RESULTING ONLY IN THE FACT THAT THE ACTOR GOES ON ACTING ROLES, EACH SEEMINGLY NEW YET ALREADY RENDERED MANY TIMES, THOUGH IN SLIGHTLY DIFFERING CONSTUMES AND WITH OTHER CASTS. Obviously, this is a ridiculous impasse. The mind has been bewitched, trapped by the pressures of a blind life-force that whirls creatures along in a cycling, never-ending stream. AND WHY? Who or what is doing this? WHO IS THE FOOL THAT KEEPS THIS DIM-WITTED ENTERTAINMENT ON THE BOARDS?”

Part iii

...The mind has been bewitched, trapped by the pressures of a blind life-force that whirls creatures along in a cycling, never ending stream. And why? Who or what is doing this? Who is the fool that keeps this dim-witted entertainment on the boards?

The answer that would have to be given to you should you be unable to find it for yourself would be simply--Man: Man himself: each individual, each one of us. And the answer is obvious. For each one of us goes on doing what has always been done, continually imagining himself to be doing something different. Our brain, our tongue, our organs of action, are incorrigibly possessed by a drive to be doing something --and we do it. That is how we build up new tasks for ourselves, contaminating ourselves every minute with NEW PARTICLES OF KARMIC MATTER, which enter into our nature, flow into our life-monad, sully its essence, and bedim its light. These involvements fetter us to an existence murkey with desire and ignorance; and here we treasure our transitory personality as though it were something substantial--we cling to the short spell of our confused life which is the only thing of which we are aware of, we cherish the brief passage of our individual existence between birth and thefuneral pyre--and thus unconsciously prolong the period of our own bondage indefinitely into the future. By being active in the pursuit of what we conceive to be our own or someone else's welfare and happiness, we only make our own bonds, as well as everyone else's the tighter,



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