' When a Being beyond Time and Space touches you, you also become beyond Time and Space-the privilege of knowing "The Only Solution Is Dissolution".'These are the words of Sadhguru, a living yogi who tells us about the very first yogi-Shiva as the tale is woven about how we must essentially embrace nothingness to become who we really are.
Tradition and beyond
Shiva is old Hindu lore and in this work, it appears that Sadhguru goes beyond the enigmatic, mystical(though that remains in it), to present a figure that can also be intellectually and almost scientifically engaged with. To be fair I haven't read a lot of the Shaivite literature and remain less than a novice so this take is rooted mostly in the bare minimum of my familiarity with the subject.
One of the stories of Shiva goes like
“Shiva once returned from a long absence. He came to Parvati’s cottage and found the door closed with a child guarding it. The child had been asked to guard the cottage and he would not allow Shiva inside. Shiva killed the child.”
This is shocking to our sensibilities. How can God kill a child following instructions? I recoil in this but in my own spiritual journey, having been a Christian-I realized that there are things the God of Israel did that should rightly make me recoil-sending two she-bears to murder 72 children for laughing that the bald head of one of his prophets.
Tradition holds that we are not justified in questioning these things. That our love must prompt us to trust that the heavenly know better than we of earth. I don't subscribe to this view. To me, to be granted with reason and the faculty for questioning and for us to abandon it, to suspend it, is the greatest sin.
Over time, people who've wrestled with these ideas of wondering why praiseworthy beings should indeed be worthy o praise has led to deep exercises in meditation, prayer, philosophy and so on. In effect trying to love God with not just our hearts but our heads too. In this book, you see an attempt to make sense of a tradition that could so easily just move on under the weight of its own inertia. One that becomes inscrutable to anyone outside of it being opened up.
As an example, the story of the Shiva above can be represented like this
Shiva once returned from a long absence. He came to Parvati’s cottage and found the door closed with a child guarding it. The child had been asked to guard the cottage and he would not allow Shiva inside. As the altercation began Shiva looked deep into this child’s existence and realised it is only a puppet made of mud. Its true form would be back in the mud. So he destroyed it.”
The book is part the saga of Shiva, the ethereal and fantastical; in part that of the 'religious' the journey towards enlightenment and the sentiments therein represented by Sadghuru and in part the very human story of a sceptical mind coming to accept the way of Yoga. Miss Subramaniam, the co-author serves as a modern cosmopolitan mind that we can identify making a nice triumvirate.
Emptiness and Being
A big part of the work is the dual meaning of Adiyogi as 'that which is not' and of Shiva, a personification almost of this reality. After all, when we say nothing is beyond space and time, well that is Shiva in some sense. Interestingly the work leaps between the fantastic and the poignant. Telling us that miracles may be the last thing we think them to be. For example
Over fifteen thousand years ago, in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, where the snows are perennial and the skies terrestrial, a being appeared. He was a being, unlike anyone, had ever seen – nine feet tall, ash-smeared, with flowing matted hair. Sometimes he sat absolutely still. At other times, he danced. His dancing was indescribable. Wild and ecstatic, it seemed to breathe exuberance into an entire universe...
Contrast this passage with the one following it in which we expect wonder ..but the real wonder is in inaction. In stillness in a world in perpetual motion.
People gathered in huge numbers around him because his presence was quite extraordinary. It was clear that while he was on this planet, he was not of it. They waited, hoping for a miracle. Nothing happened.
Much of the time, he just sat still, completely oblivious to what was going on around him. except for a few tears of rapture that fell from his eyes, he showed no signs of life at all. A tremendous miracle was happening before everyone’s eyes, but they missed it completely. They could not see that his sitting still for days and months on end was the real miracle. They were expecting firecrackers. That did not happen. Everyone left.
For example, in order to think -there's a progression from one state to another. Otherwise to be beyond time is to be changeless; and no ideas no possible interaction with something in flux. To be beyond space is to not be matter-matter occupies space. To be ' touched' by such a thing is to find a way for the immaterial to impact the material. For all ways that matter, this something that occupies not space(there) or time(then)...has all the characteristics as something not existing.
It's too easy to dismiss then from that standpoint. But I fear this is to be short sighted-metaphysics has never been about the cosmos but about what's within us. It talks about the supernatural as a means of understanding the human.
As Kant and Kierkegaard argued, there's a domain that reason will tirelessly fail to the reach-the transcendental-the thing in itself beyond the perception that is the realm of faith.
And as such a leap must be made. I personally might not leap across the chasm but I will look across and try to understand why others do. And this book serves as a testimony of the results of that leap.
Take a look, it's definitely worth your time whether you end up agreeing or not.