On the Transition from the Empirical to the Absolute
by Swami Krishnananda

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(Dictated on October 31, 2001)

This has relevance to what happened to Dr. Faust when he sold his soul to the magician in the very beginning of my book Your Questions Answered. Only a person who has read that poem would be able to understand to some extent the agony of the soul. We have heard of agonies of various kinds, physical intellectual and financial, but the agony of the soul is incompatible and incomparable with anything else. The soul is quitting its own abode and where will it go? Now what is the agony about? Only a man who has passed through it would know. What does a jail look like? Your must go to the jail and know, with some chappati being served to you as big as a scooter wheel, with no bathroom passage, he lives there for a pretty long time and he gets an exit

The subject on hand is very special because it is purely personal. A person cannot go to the other world with another's assistance. As Christ would say, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the goal." Only one can enter, not more, at a time. This is the most frightening one can imagine. We never had an experience of living alone totally, always there are some with us called friends.

Some passages from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad again may be relevant here. Paul Deussen has made out a special reference in his book The System of the Vedanta what happens to the soul which has committed a mistake. Does it go to Yama Loka or descend? In his book on a passenger of the soul, he mentions two distinct allegations, namely, the gradual descent as well as a descending with certain conditions. These conditions may be with a regressive seed or otherwise.

Paul Deussen harps on a double punishment for the soul in one of the descents, i.e., if it comes with some conditioned remnant, how does it get released from the upper world? These souls are made mention of as those which come and die then and there, like leach, moth, and the like, having a very short life, of no special consequence. But the question is, why should it be like that? People who die but do not reach Moksha would not like to be harassed once again by a process of return in a double deal of punishment. For instance, in the Katha Upanishad, Yama the Lord of Death, is spoken of as having said, "People come under my control again and again." These words "again and again" are frightening indeed. Why again and again? Nobody wants to come to this world again and again by committing the same mistake.

Here I am reminded of the great scheme of George Hegel who descends from the absolute bright light into the harder phenomena of Hiranyagarbha, Virat which includes the earth. Then the epistemology of perception, the cognition process, commences. But whose perception is it? It is the perception of the psychological functions which we highlight today as the apparatus of common knowledge. Linguistics, ethics, morality, sociality, chemistry, political science, end up in finally a kind of religion and philosophy again, falling upon the Absolute as an experience. That the Absolute is realised is not a vague idea. It is the Absolute about which no one has to say anything. It is just be-ness as a self-identity which we are all aspiring for finally.