False Pathways to the Sacred
Prior to commenting upon the well-validated pathways to awakening, enlightenment, or liberation, I want to rid your psyche of any possible attachment to several “false pathways” which unwise persons believe to be solutions to the continuous round of rebirth and redeath. Such “false pathways or pseudo-pathways” producing “core loves” leading away from heaven and onto hell in the revealed religions of the Levant.
Primarily, I will discuss such “false pathways” from the perspective of the 4,000 year study of man’s psychoistic world experience, as documented so well in Indian metaphysics and religiosity. Then, I will present some thoughts as how such apply to the revealed religions with preach of one temporal mortal life followed by a permanent sojourn in either heaven and hell.
The first pseudo-pathway is the practice of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain in ones material life. Though, practiced by all ethnic groups, e.g., as documented by the 6th century BCE philosophy of the materialist Cārvāka and the Greek schools of Epicurus and Aristippus of Cyrene of the 4th century BCE. As such schools are purely carnal and deny Divinity, reincarnation, or an after-life, clearly they lead nowhere.
The practice of rigorous and painful austerities has a long history in the Indian subcontinent, not to forget in medieval Christianity. Herein, we are not speaking towards the adoption of a simple life without frills or excess, i.e., the simple life typical of monastic orders, which is conducive to contemplation and meditation. I am referring to mortification and physical harming of the body so to gain unwavering supremacy of the normal needs of a healthy body. For examples, see Indian Austerity Images.
The ineffectiveness of body mortification as a way to awakening, enlightenment, or liberation was taught by Lord Buddha and Lord Krishna and many other. For example, it is written that Buddha said,
“Herein, in the first enquiry, called austerities, we hear about the reason for six years of austerities.
In the past, at the time of the Perfect Buddha Kassapa, the Buddha-to-be was a Brahmin student named Jotipāla. Because of being born as a Brahmin he was not satisfied with the Dispensation of that Gracious One, with this outcome through the connection of deeds: having heard it said “The Gracious Kassapa”, he said: “Where is this shaveling ascetic’s Awakening? Awakening is supremely rare!”
The outcome of that deed was that for countless hundreds of lives he underwent suffering in Naraka hell. After having received the prediction from that Gracious One, he wasted away in the transmigration of births because of that deed. But in the end he attained his existence as Vessantara, 03 and after falling away from that, he re-arose in the Tusita realm.
When the gods requested him to be reborn, after falling away from there, he arose in the Sakya family. He came to full maturity of knowledge, gave up the sovereignty over the whole of the Rose-Apple Island, cut his top-knot with a well-sharpened sword on the bank of the river Anoma, which was then taken by a Brahmā god using his psychic power until the end of the aeon, and he took the requisites placed in the lotus calyx and went forth.
Being unripe as yet for insight and knowledge and wisdom because of not knowing what is the path and what is not the path to Buddhahood, because of eating only one type of food, one lump of food, from one person only, on one path only, at one sitting only, 04 for six years in the Uruvelā country his body, with its bones, skin, sinews and the rest, being without flesh and blood, became like a dead person. His striving should be understood as it is recorded in the Discourse on the Great Traditions, 05 and so with great energy he performed his austerities.
After realizing that austerity is not the Path to Complete Awakening, and partaking of fine food in the villages, towns and capital cities, 06 he satisfied his faculties and the thirty-two signs of the Great Man appeared, and after approaching the area near the Bodhi Tree, and defeating the five Māras, 07 he became the Buddha.
As Jotipāla I spoke to the Buddha Kassapa, saying:
“Where is this shaveling’s Awakening? Awakening is supremely rare!”
Through that deed and its result I practiced many austerities
For six years at Uruvelā, and then attained to Awakening.
I did not attain the supreme Awakening through this path of pain,
I sought along the wrong path being obstructed by a past deed.
With merit and demerit destroyed, abstaining from all torment,
Griefless, without despair, I will be released, without pollutants.”
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna instructed Prince Arjuna as to the true and false pathways to the Sacred (Chapter XVII),
“What is the state of devotion
Of those who perform spiritual practices with faith
But without following
The scriptural injunctions, O Krishna?
Is it Saattvika, Raajasika, or Taamasika?”
“The natural faith of embodied beings is of three types:
Saattvika, Raajasika, and Taamasika. Hear that from Me.
O Arjuna, the faith of each is
In accordance with one’s own nature or Sanskaara.
A person is known by the faith.
One can become whatever one wants to be.
The Saattvika persons worship Devas,
The Raajasika people worship demigods and demons,
And the Taamasika persons worship ghosts and spirits.
Those who practice severe austerities
Without following the scriptures,
With hypocrisy and egotism, impelled by lust, and attachment;
Senselessly torturing the elements in their body
And also Me who dwell within the body;
Know these ignorant persons to be of demonic nature.
The food preferred by all
Is also of three types.
So are the sacrifice, austerity, and charity.
Now hear the distinction between them.
The foods that promote longevity, virtue,
Strength, health, happiness, and joy;
Are juicy, smooth, substantial, Such foods are dear to the Saattvika persons.
Foods that are bitter, sour, salty,
Very hot, pungent, dry, and burning;
And cause pain, grief, and disease;
Are liked by Raajasika persons.
The foods liked by Taamasika persons
Are half-cooked, tasteless, rotten,
Stale, refuses, and impure
Yajna enjoined by the scriptures,
Performed with a firm belief that it is a duty,
And without the desire for the fruit, is Saattvika Yajna.
Yajna which is performed only for show,
Or aiming for fruit, know that to be Raajasika Yajna, O Arjuna.
Yajna that is performed
Without following the scripture,
In which no food is distributed,
Which is devoid of mantra, faith, and gift,
Is said to be Taamasika Yajna.
The worship of Devas, Braahmana,
Guru, and the wise; purity, honesty, celibacy,
And nonviolence; these are said to be
The austerity of deed.
Speech that is not offensive, truthful,
Pleasant, beneficial, and is used
For the regular reading of scriptures
Is called the austerity of word.
The serenity of mind, gentleness, silence,
Self-restraint, and the purity of mind
Are called the austerity of thought.
Threefold austerity practiced by yogis
With supreme faith, without a desire for the fruit,
Is said to be Saattvika austerity.
Austerity that is done for gaining respect,
Honor, reverence, and for show,
Is said to be Raajasika, unsteady, and impermanent.
Austerity performed without proper understanding,
Or with self-torture, or for harming others,
Is declared as Taamasika austerity.
Charity that is given as a matter of duty,
To a deserving candidate who does nothing in return,
At the right place and time,
Is called a Saattvika charity.
Charity that is given unwillingly,
Or to get something in return,
Or looking for some fruit,
Is called Raajasika charity.
Charity that is given at a wrong place and time,
To unworthy persons, without paying respect
Or with contempt, is said to be Taamasika charity.
“OM TAT SAT” is said to be
The threefold name of Brahman.
The Braahmana, the Vedas, and the Yajna
Were created from this in the ancient time.
Therefore, acts of sacrifice, charity,
And austerity prescribed in the scriptures
Are always commenced by uttering “OM”
By the knowers of Brahman.
Various types of sacrifice, charity, and austerity
Are performed by the seekers of nirvana
By uttering “TAT” without seeking a reward.
SAT is used in the sense of reality and goodness.
The word “SAT” is also used
For an auspicious act, O Arjuna.
Faith in sacrifice, charity, and austerity
Is also called SAT.
The action for the sake of the Supreme
Is verily termed as SAT.
Whatever is done without faith;
Whether it is sacrifice, charity, austerity,
Or any other act; is called Asat.
It has no value here or hereafter, O Arjuna.”
I think it is rather clear that neither hedonism nor physical torture lead to a heavenly abode in the revealed religions. The 17th century Christian seer and mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg reported that the quality of one’s afterlife did not come from being judged by God, rather it was chosen by each soul based upon the quality of its “core love” during life. Therefore, persons who love God and what is just and merciful with all of their hearts and minds choose Heaven, those who love materiality or harming self or others choose Hell.