Four Perspectives of Consciousness
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2007-11-03
Perceive with an overview. Detach, move to different perspectives of the mind. Observe like a child. Think a little bit less. Look at the mind from within oneself. The four focuses of consciousness: shumif, simnif, mulif, and dimfi and combinations of these. Experiencing God: the shumif perspective. In meditation we're not trying to experience Siva in His personal form; Siva shares the superconscious mind with us. Dimfi perspective: Place your problems at the Feet of the Deity in the right way -- get a blast of Divine Energy.
Good morning everyone. Welcome, nice having you all here today.
In our talks the last couple of months we've been focusing on the current "Merging With Siva" lesson. So, from Gurudeva's Master Course Trilogy, so the lesson that we're currently on is called "The Nature of Thought" which is chapter thirty. So let me begin by reading from the first part.
"The mystic, while in the beginning stages, tries diligently through his sadhana to extract his awareness from the thinking area of the mind while simultaneously trying to perceive without thinking about what he has perceived. It is the overview of what has been perceived that the mystic endeavors to superconsciously grasp in a series of flashes. He well knows that thinking is the more externalized strata. The mystic constantly, through every waking moment and even during sleep, endeavors to strengthen his acute observation through perceiving the overview of thought strata rather than thinking through them. My guru often said, 'There is a chair at the top. Sit in it and look at the world from that perspective.' The mystic constantly sits in this chair, looking at mind from the threshold of the Absolute."
So there was a similar idea in last week's lesson and we talked about it in terms of the trees in the forest. It's a common thought that if you're in the forest, down in there among the trees, all you see is the trees; you have no overview; you couldn't describe the forest. So it's like being in your thoughts. Whereas, if you're up above the forest, say in a helicopter, you can see the whole forest and you see it as a one thing. So, that perspective of looking down on things, rather than being in them, is what Gurudeva's describing. And when it comes to our thinking, we achieve that by just kind of being relaxed about it. Sometimes we think about something in two tense a way, too detailed a way; we're too serious. You know we're really trying hard to figure this out, we're trying too hard in fact. And so, the only ability we have is the ability of reason which of course is limited. So, what Gurudeva is saying is: Relax a little bit. Step back. Think about it in a lighter way and which will give you an overview of it, and in that way you'll get an insight. And one kind or another at least you'll see the whole area as a one thing rather than a series of separate thoughts. And, once you get good at that, then after seeing it as a one thing then you'll have insights into that that you wouldn't have otherwise. So it's a, it's a process of thinking about things with an overview.
"It is the baser emotions, when stimulated, that bring awareness from inner depths into the thought strata of the mind, thus strengthening human emotions and feelings with powers of reason and memory. Therefore, for those not too deeply engaged in the external emotional traps, certain sadhanas can be performed to regulate and control these instinctive drives. When they are less impulsive and forceful, one has a sense of being able to control one's thoughts. Later on, if the sadhana persists, the sense that awareness travels in and among these thoughts is felt, and still later the perceptions occur of hovering above thought, looking out upon the thought stratum of the mind or a portion of it."
So that last sentence is what we were just talking about. So Gurudeva introduces the idea here of emotions. The baser emotions when stimulated bring awareness from inner depths into the thought strata of the mind. So, that means if we get emotionally disturbed. In aggressive emotions such as anger and major frustration, that kind of emotion, or a passive emotion such as jealousy, excessive worry, fear -- whatever the emotion is -- if that emotion is strong, then we're drawn right out of our ability to perceive things. We're externalized so we can't have an overview. We're stuck in our individual thoughts again and therefore, we can't use our perception, our intuitive ability. So, the remedy is obvious. We need to learn to control those emotions. It's not that we expect them never to occur. But, the idea is, if we they do occur we want to move out of them quickly. And that's one of the important parts of Gurudeva's teachings is: In ordinary thinking we are those emotions. That's us. How can we move out of ourselves? That's who I am right? I'm an angry frustrated person or I'm someone who always worries or I'm someone who easily gets jealous. That's who I am; I can't change. But, from Gurudeva's point of view and his teachings it's just an area of the mind, it's not us. We can move around to all kinds of different perspectives in the mind if we become detached enough.
"To give an example of the thought state, and a deeper state of not thinking but perceiving thoughts, imagine sitting before a television set. The set has not been turned on, and you are thinking about various things that involve you personally and wish to distract awareness from them by watching a television program. When you turn to the program, sitting across the room from the set, you have the sense of perceiving the thoughts, moods and emotions of the program, without necessarily thinking yourself. You perceive. Similarly, the mystic can be called the watcher of the play of life, for he is totally identified with his inner depths, rather than the thought strata and structures he perceives."
So this is the idea. If we're detached enough and we understand the concept of being the watcher or being awareness, observing the mind, then it's easy to be detached from it just like we're detached from television. We don't take personally what we see on television because it's somebody else we're watching. We're detached from it. So likewise, if we can have the same detachment toward our outer self that we have toward someone on television, we can stay perceptive.
"The mystic lives in a state similar to that of a child, for a child does not think, but perceives. He, of course, reacts emotionally to some of his perceptions, but it is only when he reaches twelve or fourteen, sometimes younger, that he begins to enter the thought strata of mind. The mystic has deliberately arrived at this state of the child through sadhana and, of course, has awakened the facilities in himself to go into the next succeeding, even more refined, areas of consciousness."
So, it's something, those of you who are around young children -- either your own or grandchildren, or you're just in a situation where you're with young children -- it's very interesting to see what they perceive. They'll perceive so much more about what's physically there. You know, you're walking down -- like we have all these beautiful flowers and everything, and if you're walking along with the child, the child will point out things that you probably didn't see. Why? Cause you're busy thinking. You know, half of you isn't even seeing; you know it's thinking about something else. Whereas, the child hasn't started thinking yet. You know, so the whole focus of awareness is on what's being seen. So it's a good remembrance to not get so caught up in thinking that we don't see. You know, think a little bit less. You don't really need to be thinking as much as we are all the time, it's not really productive most of it. It's just kind of rambling about this or that. Productive thinking is important; that's how we solve problems and make decisions. But just thinking about something casually as we're walking along, you know, why not observe what we're walking along, just like a child would. So, it's a good discipline to lessen our thinking and improve our observation.
"The entire concept of creating a thought, or thoughts of the mind already being in existence, or thoughts and concepts disintegrating or being destroyed because they are no longer used, is totally dependent upon the nature of the sadhana of the mystic."
So, that means the mind doesn't always look the same. It depends on the perspective you're in. And you know it's like Kauai. Kauai doesn't always look the same. You know, I remember flying over Kauai in China Airlines coming back from Tokyo one morning around 6 AM and looking down, you know, on Kauai from whatever it was, twenty thousand feet or something. And it looked very different, looked very jagged. And you could see, you know, most of it was uninhabited. So it looked very different at twenty thousand feet then it does at ground level or up in a helicopter, it's kind of in the middle. So, just like from different altitudes we have a different perspective of Kauai. So, from different points of view in the mind, the mind looks different. What Gurudeva's saying.
"There are four different perspectives in looking at the mind from within oneself. In Shum, these four perspectives are called shumif, mulif, simnif and dimfi. And of course, many more combinations of these perspectives can be utilized and have been, thus creating the various philosophical and metaphysical outlooks that we know today. How thought is seen within one's mind totally depends on the positioning of one's individual state of awareness. This, in turn, depends upon prior sadhana he has performed."
So, I thought I'd talk a little bit about those four perspectives. Some of it's a little deep but I know everyone will get something out of it. So, these four perspectives are part of what's carved on the pillars of Iraivan. Gurudeva, in his own clever way, so we wouldn't forget the Shum language, carved it on the pillars of Iraivan and pillars of Iraivan are going to last a thousand years. So, you know, people are going to go out there and say: "What's this?" For the next thousand years and then the monks have to remember what it is. [laughs] It's a good system. So, to cut down on our explanations we've printed a booklet so we don't have to sit there half an hour and explain it to every person who asks that question. We can say: "Here, well I thought you'd never ask. Here's the booklet." So we've called, what is it: "Twelve Basic Meditations," something like that. And so we, it's gone to press. It's being printed in Canada right now and should be available, how long you think, a month? Couple of weeks. So we'll have in a couple of weeks. It has the twelve basic meditations and a lot of other information about the Shum Language. It's the first material we've printed on Shum in many many years. So one of these meditations -- there's one for each month -- is for the month of August. And it's on these four perspectives: Shumif, Mulif, Simnif, and Dimfi. So, this is Gurudeva's comment: "This is one..." not comment, this is Gurudeva's description of the meditation. Each of them has a couple of paragraph description.
Gurudeva says: " This is one of our most delightful Mamsani, (meaning basic meditations) naming the four different focuses of consciousness. The intelligence within each one of these four can and has taken lifetimes to know, to memorize, to investigate, cognize and expand the mind into the depths which are there to be explored. But imagine this month gaining a superconscious glimpse of all four of these perspectives at one time.
1) "Shumif is the perspective of awareness flowing through the mind, the mind itself being unmoved."
So, I'll stop on each one otherwise it's all going to run together. So shumif is awareness traveling through the mind. So this is the perspective we use in meditation. So, it's just like, you know, you're all here on Kauai so you travel through Kauai and you go through the different parts. You go over to Waimea it's very different than if you go through Hanalei and so forth. You're traveling around the island and you are the traveler, you're moving, the island is stationary right? Nothing on the island is moving. Waimea is not moving. You're moving. If you want to experience Waimea you have to travel over there. If you want to experience Hanalei you travel over there. So, this is the perspective that you're awareness or the traveler in the mind and every part of the mind is stationary, it's not moving. So you are moving to the various states of emotion, thought, intuition. They're all stationary. And so, the goal in meditation is to increase your ability to move and it's one of Gurudeva's basic teachings as we made reference to. Ordinarily, in ordinary thinking, if we're upset we say: "I'm upset." That's the way I am. I'm upset, right? But, in the shumif perspective we say: "My awareness has ended up in the area of the mind which is always upset. Do I want to be here or not?" No, this ruins my day, you know. Can't even smile. So, we say: "Well, OK, I don't want to be here. So, how do I move out?" And then we have certain tools for moving. But the first idea is we have to have the concept that we can move. You know, it's like we're over in Waimea and we say: "It's too hot, I want to go somewhere else." You know, we move. We make a decision. I don't want to be here for some reason. So, we're over in Hanalei, we say: "It's too wet, I want to go somewhere else." So, we travel around the island based upon our reaction to where we are. If we like it or not. We decide to stay or go somewhere else. So, similarly, in the mind, we learn to do the same thing. We just travel around. We say: " Do I want to be here? No, this is a miserable place. I want to go over there." So, as I say, just knowing that we can do that is the first step toward doing it. Then we have to, to actually do it requires some study. That's shumif which we use when we meditate.
2) "The simnif perspective is its opposite; the mind is moving, and the intelligence of the person observing -- such as a scientist looking through a microscope into the inner workings of matter -- is stationary."
So that's an easy one. You look through a microscope, what do we see? Well you see all this movement. Depending on the magnification you see different things. You're stationary, what you see is moving. It's also the perspective of science or knowledge drawn from observation of matter.
3) "The mulif perspective is the way of words, the way of the scholars of philosophical intellect."
So, that's like being able, well it has a good side and a limitation. So, to understand Hindu philosophy is important. So, for example, Gurudeva used to talk about an attorney that he worked with for many many years and he said: "Well our attorney has a brilliant intellect. He could pick up this material on Saiva Siddhanta, read it through in a week, and next week repeat it back perfectly and totally understand Saiva Siddhanta, probably better than we do." Such a keen intellect, but he wouldn't have experienced everything. It was just a philosophy. He wouldn't even be trying to experience everything. So, that shows what mulif is; It's grasping something in terms of the concept of it but it's not the experience of it. So, for example, we talked about the Absolute Form of God or Parasiva as timeless, causeless and spaceless. So, to know that is good philosophy. What is Parasiva? Well, it's the timeless, formless, spaceless aspect of God. OK, but that's not the same as experiencing it. So, to make that distinction is important. Experiencing it is in the shumif perspective. Describing it is in the mulif perspective. So, mulif is necessary, or philosophy is necessary, for experience. Because we have to know intellectually what it is we're trying to experience but we don't want the concept to be the experience. So, Yogaswami's story on that -- famous story -- he had a disciple who was very intellectual. And so, his comment to him was: "It's not in books you fool." So, he was reading too many books, stuck in the mulif perspective. And able to describe everything perfectly but not experiencing anything.
4) "Its opposite is the dimfi perspective, which is just now coming into focus on this planet through the newly found abilities of being able to communicate with Mahadevas, devas and beings of all kinds on other planets, such as the Pleiades, in this galaxy and beyond. Those in this perspective are not aware of being the center of all things, the shumif perspective. Nor are they aware of the world's many philosophies, the mulif perspective. Nor are they concerned about the nature of a drop of water, the simnif perspective. Their minds fly high in dimfi."
So, dimfi is the perspective of space or worlds, inner worlds and outer worlds. So, the most, or we say the most common use of the perspective in Hinduism is in the temple, the Deities. So we say the Deities are in the inner worlds. So, in trying to -- like we worship, the whole idea of worshiping -- we're worshiping the Deity; the Deity is separate from us, the Deity is greater than us. If we're successful we get the blessings of the Deity. That's the spirit of temple worship. So there's a separation, there's a dualism. We are never the Deity. The Deity's always greater than us. So likewise, you can also look into outer space and find beings -- something not usually done in Hinduism but Gurudeva wasn't restricted by conventionality. So to him, there was no difference in identifying beings in outer space and identifying beings in inner space. Was a one thing. You get very intelligent beings you can encounter but they're always separate from you and you're thinking of this being as a person. So, it's a perspective. So, the perspect... we in Hinduism, we call it the perspective of theism, the perspective of the personal God.
"These four major perspectives of the consciousness of human beings create their major inner mind styling. There is no relationship to ordinary life within these perspectives. Not one of them is a second or third-dimensional concept. (Meaning an ordinary intellectual concept.) These are four names that capture and categorize consciousness into four divisions. Saivism can well name all four. A fully developed Saivite should be able to experience at will each of these four perspectives, consciously live in two, three or more at the same time, as did the rishis of yore."
So, then another description, separate from that, Gurudeva explains: OK, well how does Saivism encompass these four perspectives?
"In meditation the shumif perspective of the three worlds and the seven dimensions of the mind does not involve us in the knowledge of the devas and Mahadevas who live in the inner worlds. You would be experiencing through the shumif perspective exactly what the devas would experience in the Second and Third world were they to meditate upon the shum concepts. Shumif is pure advaita."
So, when you're meditating in the shumif perspective there's no other person. So, it's a, it's a concept that I realized I had to figure out how to explain. On the innersearch we're going to study this material because I was talking to some Hindus in Toronto -- some devotees of Yogaswami -- and who were asking me about meditation and really weren't familiar with meditation. Hadn't been trained in meditation or practiced meditation or even studied a philosophy about meditation. So they were saying: "Well, you meditate on God, right? " So they didn't have a concept of what to meditate on and I realized: You know this is a basic point that I would tend not to explain. What do you meditate on? You take it for granted, you know. We medi... but it wasn't clear. So this touches into that area that in meditation we use the shumif perspective. We don't use the dimfi perspective. We're not seeing God as a person. We're not trying to meditate and experience Siva in His personal form in Meditation. We're trying to experience the mind. So part of that is the superconscious mind. And Siva shares the superconscious mind with us. So as Gurudeva says: "In meditation you can experience the same areas of the mind that the devas and the Mahadevas do." You're not experiencing something different.
"When we become conscious of devas, Mahadevas or our personal Deity, we have transferred our perspective into what is called the dimfi perspective, which is pure dvaitist. (God is separate from you, and greater.) The Siddhanta philosophy is approached from the mulif perspective when it is intellectually studied. (That's what we mentioned before. Understanding philosophy, understanding the concepts is mulif. Is a philosophical foundation but it isn't the actual experience.) And, of course, hatha yoga, the knowledge of pranayamas, kalibasa and the currents of the physical body all relate to the simnif perspective." (Cause that's physical and described, described in the, can be described by a scientist what happens to your physical body when you do hatha yoga, pranayama and so forth. Also, diet would be part of that. Vegetarian diet, what we eat, how it effects us is part of simnif or encompassing the knowledge, the scientific viewpoint, into our Saivite perspective.)
One last one. This is something I developed to try and bring it down to Earth.
So: "Let's take a common modern day problem -- depression and look at how the problem can be solved through each of these four approaches."
So, ask yourself first. OK, if a friend of yours, Hindu friend of yours, comes up and says: "I'm suffering from depression, what should I do?" You know, what advice would you give. Don't have to tell me, but just think about it. What advice would you give? Or, what possible advices, depending on who they were, would you give? So, I came up with four, one for each perspective. So, the one that's very common these days is:
1) "The simnif perspective is often favored. (Science, so what do we do?) We solve depression by taking a prescription drug such as prozac, to chemically alter our mood."
Well it sounds funny but that's what's going on in the world. Even small kids, small is probably an exaggeration but even children, really, are being put on these kinds of medications at a fairly young age, you know age ten or eight or something, and because they're going to a psychologist and the psychologist only knows the simnif perspective. And that, in thought, OK well, you solve these problems with drugs. That's their training. Nothing wrong with their training and in some cases these drugs are needed but it's only one perspective and it may not be what's needed. Drugs have side effects and don't necessarily come without an overhead, shall we say.
And so, that's simnif. Depression -- prozac.
2) "Discussing the problem with a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist is the solution from the mulif perspective."
So, making you feel better about yourself. "Oh, it was just a small problem, you know. I mean, you're blowing it out of perspective, you know. And, look at all you've learned from this experience and you're a divine being." And you know this and that, going through all the points. You talk someone into feeling better about themselves, talk them out of the problem, help them gain a new perspective on themselves depending on what philosophy you're using. You know we say: "Well, you're a divine being, you're perfect." You know, every experience is good if you learn something from it. You know no matter what a horrendous mistake you made as long as you learn something from that experience it's a good experience cause it benefited you. You're not going to do it again or at least you're less likely to do it again. So, like that: mulif.
3) "Going to the temple."
You know, how many people prescribe that one? You have depression, go to the temple. That's not very common but it should be common. Going to the temple and placing the problem at the Feet of the Deity is the solution from the dimfi perspective. So if we can really go and place the problem there, meaning you know, talk to the Deity about our problem, bring offerings and go through a process, it's just like we were talking to a person. But, we get blessings from the Deity if we open ourselves to the Deity in the right way which you don't get from a person. I mean get a blast of Divine Energy which helps remove the problem. And sometimes, if it works out very well, you can't remember the problem; you go away and say: "I know I went there with a problem, what was it? " You know, that's a sign of success.
4) "Solving the problem through meditation is the shumif perspective, moving awareness into a happier state of mind and looking back and understanding the karmas involved."
So that's meditation, of course, but that's the hardest one. Cause, when we're upset and bothered, it's the hardest time to meditate. But it can be done. So, you can use more than one perspective and for example, when, you know, in Gurudeva's approach to solving problems, you know, we try and avoid the simnif perspective of prescription drugs. You know, that's the last resort. So, you talk to, you start with mulif. You have to make someone feel better about themselves. You have to improve their mood, remind them they're a Divine being. You know give them an overview. Uplift them a little bit. That's the start. So you start with mulif. And then, depending on their nature, depending if there's a temple nearby, you know, or their shrine room is good, you can switch to dimfi. Well you know, go in the shrine room and talk to Ganesha about it and try and adjust your emotional state, you know. Have Him calm you down and work with it that way. And if they're a good meditator you can also add that. Say: "Well after you've done that, you know, meditate. And go into the energies in the spine and you know, become positive again. They're there right? You know how. You've been trained." So, we can use all three perspectives when we're talking to someone who's familiar with Gurudeva's teachings. Mulif: You start with mulif, make someone feel better. Go to dimfi: Take them to the shrine room or the local temple. And then shumif: Take them into meditation. And get through the problem.
So, it's amazing. You know I ran into a situation recently. Someone's, working with someone in Asia whose spouse passed on and, at a young age. So, it was quite a shock. And about a month afterwards the person told me you know that:" I've been advised that I'm depressed and should take some drugs. " Ai yai yai! You know. Person's not depressed the person's in grief, right? You know. Drugs are just such a catchall for everything. Oh, you're in grief. Take some drugs and forget your grief. You know, but grieving is a natural process. You know, it's a human emotion. It's common in all cultures. If you lose a loved one you grieve for a year. That's not just a Hindu tradition but it's common. Cause, it takes time to get over it and it's just a natural process and it should be understood as such and of course, you're going to be sad during parts of that year, you know. But, it's a year of adjustment and we shouldn't look at it as depression. But, it's just such a big label. You know: You're depressed, let's solve it. That's a drug. Rather than: You're going through a natural human emotion and let's talk about it and understand it. You know, so talking about it or mulif, getting a better perspective on it you know is the start, preferred start, from Gurudeva's point of view.
OK. Well thank you very much. A little bit mystical but I'm sure everyone caught a few things that were useful.
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