Tapas. The purifying fire. This is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve been trying to see the truth in everything. By seeing the truth, I mean seeing love and light in everything. That is the true reality of everything, it is only that we cannot see it because our perspective is wrong. We are seeing things with the wrong attitude. Flavoring the universal with our perceived individuality. This individuality is what brings the perspective which makes us think that there is something called good and bad. Black and white. Evil and righteous. None of those things exist.
There is nothing such as good without bad. The truth is neither exists apart from the other because they are only relative. A wonderful truth is this; good and evil are always in the exact same amount relative to each other. There is never more evil than good, nor more good than evil. They are always in equal amounts. It is only the perspective that changes. This is a factual statement because evil and good are relative to each other. Is is only their amount relative to the point of perspective that changes, not the amount of good or the amount of evil.
Take a line for instance with two ends. On one end is good and the other is evil. The line itself can be stretched out and the ‘distance’ between the two ends can increase or decrease, but their relative distance will never change. Now, add a point on the line. This dot represents your ‘individual’ viewpoint. The point from which you perceive the external from. This point can be moved up and down the line. More towards the one side or towards the other, but until this point exists, there is neither more good or more evil. Without the individual perspective there is no quantity of good or evil in the world.
This point, the individual perspective is the cause of the perception of good and evil in a situation. How can evil be inflicted on a rock. The rock does not have a perspective and therefore no harm can ever come to it. It is never any different than all the other rocks. So we can see that it is not the world that has good and evil ‘in’ it. We ‘put’ the good and the evil in the world based on our perspective.
If your perspective is too far to one side or the other, then you will perceive the world as either good or evil and everything you experience will be one or the other. If you are viewing things from a happy perspective as many Christians will do, then things will become more and more happy for you. You will find happiness in all things and you will forget about evil all together.
Then there are people who put their perspective too far to the evil side. They are always having problems and can never get anything done. Everything in the world is working against them. They are constantly spitting into the wind so to speak. In the study of the occult, this side is known as the left-hand-path. They are always having to work hard just to get the simplest things done. The universe becomes their adversary (the Hebrew word ha-satan means adversary) and they find life to be dark and cold.
There are those who’s point is in the middle, exactly between the two ends of the line. It is like the Buddhist to take the middle path. To find the balance between the two imaginary sides. With this perspective of balance you find calm peace and tranquil waters. Things are seen not as good or bad, just as being. They see the good man as equal to the evil man for there is no good or evil to them. This middle path seems to be the most perfect and the most powerful and it is. The problem comes when you try to maintain this viewpoint. Without a perfect balance, you end up on one side or the other and the entire perspective falls apart.
You can see where so much emphasis on meditation and control over the senses comes from in religious practice. It is very difficult to maintain this balance, this middle way and it takes great power to obtain its perspective in this world. The universal instinct for balance is so powerful that all life springs from this desire. Reincarnation is nothing but the working out of vibrations to one side or the other. This brings me back to my main topic: Tapas.
Tapas is the burning of karma. Tapas means heat or gestation. From what I can tell it is originally the word used to describe, in the most ancient texts, the act of a mother bird covering her young for warmth. I think the most direct modern parallel would be an electric incubator. Something that keeps another thing warm in order for life to be born. Another good way of explaining the word would be the mothers womb. The heat of the womb that gestates the life of the child.
We are like the child in the womb that is this universe. The entire universe is her to keep us alive through its tapas, its warming fires. The most direct manifestation of this tapas is the heat of the sun. Without the heat of the sun there would be no life on this world. Its heat creates all energy on this planet in all its forms. It is the sun’s tapas, its warming fires which keeps the earth alive. Within each one of us too is a tapas; the tapas of the Atman or the soul.
Within us lies the greatest potential for generating this life giving heat. But in order to get this heat, one must be in perfect balance. So the word tapas has become, overtime to mean the practice of generating this heat, of practicing the actions that lead to balance. Normally these actions are austerities and meditation, but the actual goal of these things, the great secret of these practices is to place the perspective in the perfect middle of the line. The perspective at the heart of all things, seeing the truth in all things as a result.
This is the point where you understand that you ARE all things. That there is nothing outside of yourself because you are all things. These actions are the generator of the fire that warms the gestation inside of us. Tapas are cause of all things everywhere. Tapas births the true self. The Atman.