Today we will try to deal with a playful form of transmitting certain teachings about the path, about what raises, what causes the fall, and also about what leads to liberated cosmic consciousness, that is, to Kaivalya. Lila (leela) literally means game or play, in line with the idea of entertaining and learning.
Our game board basically has seventy-two squares. It was developed by the great ancient Rishis for the benefit of civilization and the entertainment of seeking souls. Individual fields indicate stations where souls (selves) embodied in the material plane of existence are located. Normally, working through one station leads to another, although there are stations that cause us to fall or rise in a very specific way.
The game is very simple. We roll the dice for the agreed number of points to be able to place our pawn (button) on the starting field, which is the arrow in front of the field with number one. Each player has one throw. We usually choose the number six (it symbolizes our self and its perigrinations) as a starting number. Then we move the number of spots indicated by the dice. Rolling a six is rewarded with another additional roll. After rolling the first 'six’, we begin our journey through life, as you can call the whole game.
The pattern of the game is drawn up in the form of steps upwards, up to the field number 68. The player who first reaches this field ends the game as the winner (Jaina) on the journey. He returns to his home, to his spiritual homeland. If you pass space 68, you simply evolve, traveling as if space 72 was followed by space '1′. Without stopping, you start your spiritual journey from the beginning!
Interesting are the fields of exaltation marked with a heart with a prañava (om) in the middle, and fields with a triangle pointing down, symbolizing temptations and traps, and as a result, a fall several steps down the ladder of spiritual evolution. It is interesting to examine where some of the traps in our inclinations and tendencies lead.
The horizontal fields are arranged in eight steps, nine fields on each step, which symbolizes the eight-step path of classical yoga (ashtanga yoga), as well as trap and ascent stations on almost each of the steps of ashtanga yoga. A human being has various tendencies and inclinations that we can observe as we move along our individual path during successive rolls of the dice. The game is intended for such personal reflection, where we can reveal certain, even hidden tendencies. We can play the game with ourselves and meditate a little on each next step, or we can also play with several people.
Let us now examine the distinguished fields of fall and rise:
10. Purification leads us from the plane of spiritualists, magicians and soothsayers straight to the heart of Swargaloka, that is, to the consciousness of the heavens and angels. We enter the station of angelic nature by keeping our thoughts and feelings pure. Śuddhi or Śaućam means attention to purity and transparency, to righteousness and honesty. The basic cleansing training is thorough defecation and avoiding contact with excrements (faeces, urine, sweat) and with the bodies of deceased people (especially relatives). Taking care of the hygiene of excretion is essential, which is why the Rishi (Sage) takes care of washings, avoids contact with urine and faeces, even administering appropriate enemas. Purification allows you to bypass the astral and mental plane on your spiritual journey, going straight to Paradise.
12. Jealousy or envy is a trap that turns us back to the plane of material existence and pushes us straight into stinginess. Envying others for anything leads to stinginess, which is the greatest poverty of existential life. A miser is a creature that is like a dog that will not eat itself, but will not allow to eat to others. Through miserliness, we become entangled in the bondage of material existence and the network of the senses.
16. Dvesha is all kinds of traumas, reluctances, antipathies, all aversions and resentments. Dvesha is a category of repulsive and alienating feelings. They bring us straight to Lobha’s field, driving us into greedy rapacity, into greed, what we sometimes call the world of hungry ghosts who want but do not get what they want. It is immersing oneself in wanting but not 'having’. Specifically, Dvesha is the feeling of being rejected which, when it occurs on the path, directs us to the plane below.
17. Prasada is the station of Grace, of being subjected or guided by the Grace of God. Merciful God takes us to the highest plane whenever we are in a state of trusting waiting until we experience His omnipotence. We are on the plane of experiencing the Absolute, but we have thus missed the chance to achieve Kaivalya. So we continue to wander through the turnstile of existence, preferably through field number 72, unless unfortunately we miss it. Prasada is the belief that God is Merciful and that He will help us or do something for us. Begging for God’s Grace always takes us to experience His countless miracles.
20. Mercy (Kripa) towards neighbours or creatures, the attitude of self-giving and charity (Daya) takes us to the Plane of Divine Sonship, to the station of Balance (Nitya, Jana). We rest there in the bliss of silence and peace that is the nature of all the Sons of God, present and past.
22. The station of practicing Dharma, the religion of the heart and the duty felt from within, which is understood as listening to the voice of the heart and following the so-called own path, takes us up to the seventh sphere, where we reach the plane of the mind enlightened by goodness and positive attitude.
24. Bad company, when we are in heavenly consciousness, drags us down so that we fall into vanity and pride. When we reach heaven, we must be very careful about the type of company we keep. People with inappropriate ambitions and tendencies can always lead us up these „garden paths” of sensuality.
27. Seva, sacrificial service and selfless actions is a station that takes us to the very centre of true humanity, where we will truly experience what it means to be human in the true sense of the word, Nara, Jana.
28. Rational religion is, in other words, gnosis, knowledge or understanding of doctrine in an intelligent and logically transparent way. This type of Dharma elevates us to the plane of zeal, zeal, renunciation and disciple-like self-discipline. Tapas warms the heart with its rhythm and constancy of pursuit without a shadow of doubt. Praksha itself means Eternal Knowledge, and Dharma means action in accordance with it. Fulfilling life in accordance with Eternal Knowledge and its principles is called rational religion. I understand and comprehend it, therefore I act according to it. Dharma is the performance of religious duty resulting from Eternal Knowledge. The Plan of Discipline is a plan of proper DISCIPLESHIP. Only here can someone say that he is a student of the Kingdom of Heaven.
29. Adharma is atheism, all irreligion and non-religious life, hostility to religion and violating the principles of religiosity in its principled dimension, such as denying the existence of God. This station causes us to evolve into the state of consciousness of a fraudster and a counterfeiter. Atheism always leads to deception and living in constant, hypocritical falsehood. It is the material plane of existence.
37. Prajna is the station of elevation through spiritual Wisdom, which is not knowledge learned in an academic way. It is the wisdom of knowing subjects from their experience through contemplation. Wisdom is charismatic in nature and has no connection with education or training. It raises us to the plane of bliss and emptiness, which we call Ananda or Abhava. We are on level eight and only two stations to Kaivalya, if we don’t pass it!
44. Avidya is the obfuscation of what is clear, simple and transparent. Beating around the bush and muddying the waters is just ignorance. Disregarding eternal laws and principles is also the stupidity of denying the knowledge coming from seers and prophets. This is avidya. One descends down into the material plane to the station of sense entrapment. Thanks to avidya, we are caught in Indra’s net and bound in sensuality, dependent on the sense organs for our judgments and perception of the world.
45. Jnana is right knowledge, proper knowledge of things and matters suitable for us. Jnana is the end of human cognition and understanding, the end of what the inner mind can realize. Jnana is simply knowing the course of things and affairs, knowing. This leads immediately to the plane of cosmic Good, because he who Knows always does good. The Supreme always knows what is best at any given moment, place and time and is guided by the perfect principle of Absolute Goodness. Raised to the plane of God’s Good Will, we stand one step away from the station of final liberation, and sometimes we pass Kaivalya.
46. Chittam is consciousness itself beyond and above the wisdom and knowledge of the Wise, pure mind and pure perception, mere being in the moment, I am, here and now. It is the Reason of the Heart or the Heart Mind that observes, considers and takes account. In the sphere of the Mind of the Heart there is a desire as an intention or goal to be fulfilled. The station takes the plane higher to a state of eternal and happy prosperity, welfare and abundance. You achieve happiness because of prosperity, success and abundance, and that exactly is sukha.
52. Bala is the violence or overpowering nature when, observing nature and the nature of animal beings, we follow the laws governing wild nature. The so-called law of the jungle, any violence committed against ourselves or others, takes us from the plan of Tapas straight to purgatory, where, according to the mistakes, we will experience their consequences according to the principle of what goes around comes around, which is the principle of return. Many truly human souls remain in purgatory because they have succumbed to the spell of violence. Let us therefore avoid following the law of the fist and the club. The deity of war is always Bal.
54. Total devotion to the living Guru, Iśvara, is a station that takes us to the highest plane and straight to liberation and merging into one with the cosmic consciousness, with the all-existence of God. Only Pranidhana in relation to Iśvara, the divinity accepted into our heart leads straight to Kaivalya, to union with Brahman.
55. Egotism is a station that is a heavy trap for souls who have reached high and have a great sense of absolute truth as well as the highest reality. Then they think that they are allowed to do anything or that they have all the answers. They are concerned with their own self and think that it is the supreme Lord God. All selfishness and focusing only about ourselves, on ourselves and for ourselves causes us to wake up at the very bottom of the chain in the station of anger and wrath. Here we experience that angry knowers of truth are only fallen egoists.
61. Dushta Budhi is a type of spiritually awakened enlightened intelligence that is extremely susceptible to all negativity. The passivity of such a mind causes it to perceive the defilements of the world and, getting stuck in them, it begins to sink. It falls into a state of emptiness and vacuum, into shunyata. It brings us down to the level of astromental psychism to the perception of emptiness, vacuum and nothingness. We achieve such desolation and such nihilism that everything seems empty. The emptiness of life. The desert of Christian mystics.
63. Tamas is another trap that pulls us from the heights of spiritual development to the very bottom of existence, straight into the arms of delusion, illusion, delusion and deception. What is tamas? Tamas is all darkness and gloom of hellish mentality. All the dark sadness, depression and gloominess. Tamas are all sins of the dark and murky spheres of existence. When we are at the pure and subtle levels, anything impure is what should be avoided. For the pure, everything is pure, but not everything is beneficial. If we do not avoid unclean bodily deeds, we end up in a station of illusion and are deceived. Inappropriate food, inappropriate speech, inappropriate thoughts or feelings, this is tamas.
68. Kaivalya is the most special field! Here the soul achieves all final victory. You achieve the Oneness of Being. This is the station of cosmic consciousness. Kaivalya is the central issue and goal of all Yoga, which in its essence serves as a path to Kaivalya, liberation from the cycle of incarnations and the conditions of manifest planes of existence. This is ultimate salvation or liberation. Now you can ask for a gift from all those who have not yet finished the game and reached the liberation station. And if you pass the victorious station, you simply move on, with the opportunity of starting another incarnation of existence.
72. Tamaguṇa is something similar to tamas, but it is like heavenly darkness in the form of passivity and inactivity. It can be said that this guṇa is the energy that causes inertia, rest, as if resting on one’s laurels and being satisfied with the passivity of blissful rest. This attitude brings Celestials from the highest spheres, beings after all divine and communing with the Absolute to the plane of Earth, so that they can continue their development in a more active way.
We have probably noticed that from the lowest materialistic level there is nothing that would raise us up. From the level of astromental consciousness, only Śuddhi (purification) and Prasada (Grace) elevate, while jealousies and resentments (dvesha) cause one to fall back to the lowest sphere. From the third plane, the heavenly, we are raised by mercy, the religion of the heart (Dharma) and selfless service (Seva), we fall through unseemly association! You can fall from the level of balance and stability in the eternal only through atheism (denying God and lack of piety), and you can rise higher only through rational religion. From the fifth level, which is truly human, one can rise high through Prajna and Jnana, and fall only through Avidya, mindless ignorance. The sixth level, of discipline and fervent asceticism, of tapas lifts us up when we develop pure consciousness or, when we develop spiritual devotion, we reach the station of Kaivalya and complete liberation from the World Game. Fall comes through the use of an arsenal of violent means. The seventh level, the path of truth, is guarded on both sides by two traps. When you want to enter, beware of selfishness, for it is both a gateway to the world of Truth and a trap for the unprepared. If you want to rise even higher, beware of passively enlightened intellectualism and do not reject the affirmatively understood goal of striving, and beware of everything dark and hellish, i.e. tamasic. Tamas is a trap at the gate to the highest level of development of consciousness, which is the Consciousness of God, the Absolute. Nothing dark will enter there, because it will immediately sink down, to the very bottom. Resting on the laurels of eternal rest leads to reincarnation in the earthly world, while prior orientation to the right goal and immersion in Kaivalya Yoga brings the final breaking of all bonds and merging with the One Infinite and Omnipresent.
Let’s also note that we have to jump over some fields, called fall fields, because otherwise we would always be turned back. The path is a bit like a kangaroo path, a path marked by jumps from field to field. A very individual vision of the Spiritual Journey is developing, in which we may miss the Field of Final Liberation, Kaivalya, many times. I trust that while playing with Lila, we will understand a little more deeply the esotericism of the Way of Liberation and we will look at our own tendencies to stand on particular fields, both those that elevate and those that depress.
Lila is, in fact, the Wheel of Incarnations and the Wheel of Dharma, a record of stations on a journey, a record showing how individual someone’s path can be and, at the same time, what fundamental principles lead to the Ultimate Goal. We can also see where the entire society is led through the station offered to it. A good example is Adharma (atheism, godlessness) and the consequence, which is to plunge into falsehood, deceit, dishonesty and hypocrisy. Adharma appears whenever a person thinks that there is no higher power, no God or Lord above him. All adepts who, in their naivety, think that they are so spiritual and enlightened that they do not need to pray or practice, because they have already „outgrown it”, fall into godlessness.
The Station of Prasada, Grace and Blessing of the always merciful Absolute should also not be understood as an obstacle in which we pass Kaivalya and lose something. By a short path, from the second plane of astral consciousness, we travel to the plane of unity, monotheism and see the Absolute itself. We experience His Grace! If we continue to jump to the Tamaguṇa field and enter into resting state, we will only fall into the sixth plane, which is already high in the hierarchy of consciousness development planes. All we need is one more successful jump to the station of spiritual devotion (Iśvarapranidhana) and we travel towards eternal salvation (liberation). Such a path may seem risky to us, but it is within the sphere of human possibility of traveling along the path and leads to the ultimate goal. So look in deep contemplation at what your personal spiritual journey looks like, at what circle or cycle you make in your personal journey. What stations do you often fall through because you rise with them or fall by getting stuck in them. Lila is a fun aid for development on the Path of Wisdom.
This great fun can help us learn what to pay attention to, what to avoid and what to listen to. Lila is something like spiritual divination, according to the principle that even playing reveals hidden tendencies within us. When we play with full concentration, making successive dice rolls with deep concentration, we can reveal some of our hidden tendencies that are still inexorably dormant inside us. It is interesting to notice whether we tend to hit the ascent or fall zones. Which of these two happens to us more often?
Kaivalya is a term that is fundamental to any path of spiritual development. It means the final state of all spiritual pursuits and searches. It means Oneness, Exclusivity, Perfect Separation, Individuality, Separation of soul from matter and Identification with the Supreme Spirit, Ultimate Liberation and Ultimate Bliss or Blessing of Happiness. Having achieved this highest fruit of all yoga, the Rishi stands completely above the world and can say: I have conquered the world! Such a soul fully realizes its spiritual uniqueness, its unique individuality. The soul realizes perfect separation from all material, astro-mental and even heavenly layers.
Let us also notice the eight-step division of the board serving our divine Lila. The lowest plane concerns the Bhurloka sphere in general. This means the densest materiality, the crown of which is all sensuality, entanglement in a network of sensory impressions (field no. 9). The next nine fields create the psychic plane, the field of astro-mental experiences, which culminate in Tushita, which is the sphere of joy, cheerfulness and laughter. A joyful attitude therefore leads to the upper sphere of development on the plane of psychism (emotions and thoughts). The higher spheres already concern the Five Celestial Planes, the first and lowest of which is Svargaloka, the Heaven of Indra. This is the third nine of fields (from No. 19 to No. 27). We can observe what attitudes cause the heavenly consciousness of spiritually purified and developed people to fall low and avoid such tendencies as the fire that drags them to hell.
Kaivalya is the field of the path of Instant Liberation. It is similar with Iśvarapranidhana, the field of Spiritual Devotion that leads to Kaivalya. Normally, staying in one field leads (pushes) you to the next one over time! For example, we travel from the Plane of Fire to the experience of Rebirth. Being in the experience of Rebirth leads to the station of Avidya (Ignorance), from where we land in sensuality. Therefore, it is not good to stay too long at the stations leading to the fall fields. Hum!
Many Blessings on your Path to Awakening and Realization!
Om Namaśśivaya! Hum!
Aćaryaćarya Swami Lalita-Mohan G.K.