Sunday, September 9, 2007

Religion: Bhakti Über Alles

We can conclude our considerations of Schweig’s “Textual Illuminations” on his translation of the Bhagavad Gîtâ, by examining two more paragraphs in the section discussing the yoga of the Gîtâ. I will then relate this back to our earlier discussing of an alternative interpretation of the myth of Eden and the Fall of Man. The first paragraph:

“When the soul is bound to this world, it is subject to the powerful conditioning of the ‘qualities’ of nature. Furthermore, when a soul is reborn, the life of that soul is largely determined by the positive and negative effects arising from the activities of one’s previous births. The worldview of the Gîtâ, however, blends conceptions of free will with this deterministic view. Free will is a necessary ingredient in love; that love cannot be coerced or controlled is axiomatic for the Gîtâ. This subtle but critical theme shows that souls are given the power of choice, without which there is no possibility of love.” (p. 250)

Since the gunas, the above mentioned ‘qualities of nature,’ include negative effects on the soul, it is clear that a human soul possessing free will, and interacting with the material world, with all of its distractions and enticements, would not be able to love, and thus be reunited with the Divinity, unless that soul possessed the knowledge of good and evil—the faculty of discernment—allowing for the free choice of Love, i.e., the Good, to be made. In the following paragraph, Schweig writes:

“The love call of God, found within his sacred teachings, awakens free will, enabling the soul either to accept the cycle of endless birth and rebirth that binds the soul to this world, or to choose a path leading to the eternal world that frees the soul from the cycle of suffering. This mortal world, the Gîtâ implies, exists so that souls can exercise choice, without which there is no possibility of love.” (p. 250)

Therefore, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Eden must be seen as a necessary instrument in the Grand Plan of creation. And what follows from this is that the Serpent—that most “subtle” creature in the Garden—is a messenger of wisdom, rather than a purveyor of sin and death. Schweig’s paragraph concludes:

“The implication is that there can be no true love in the divine world without an alternate world. Thus this world, ultimately designed to facilitate love, is brought into being by the divinity to give souls the freedom to love.” (p. 250)

“Alternate world”: Anyone for dualism? This mutual love of God for his creatures and his creature for Him, is known in Sanskrit as “bhakti.” In order for bhakti to happen, what is called the “Fall” in the Old Testament must happen. Without its occurrence, Adam and Eve would possess no more spiritual gravitas than a pair of Disney bunnies. This leads us directly onto patently heretical, Gnostic ground. If God, as presented in Genesis, has forbidden the knowledge of good and evil, then this God may be the Creator of the material universe, but he is clearly not the God of Love. We must see this God as the Demiurge, not as the “all pervading, imperishable Brahman” of the Gîtâ; not as the supreme One of the Platonists, nor as the utterly transcendent, infinitely removed God of Simone Weil; and, most controversially, not as the all-loving Abba proclaimed by Jesus Christ.