Jnana & Spiritism

Consequently, as much as they tried to break free from the rigid parameters of thought and expression that had generated the stiff social, political and artistic environment that had brought about World War I and that later produced World War II, the result of their endeavor was destined to be just another intellectual revolution as bound to fail in their grand scheme as that other significant revolution of their time, Communism, eventually did. But, again, why would this be so?

Because there are forces intrinsic in human nature that cannot be harnessed by will alone. Any unconscious creative drive has to be spontaneous, therefore unexpected. Any attempt to systematize such creative impulse would turn it into just another conscious effort to create, and once the conscious is brought into the creative process there’s no longer much “Automatic” or unconscious quality to it.  This is why so many of those so-called automatic writings that we all come across are just sheer regurgitation of whatever impressions may have been recorded in the writer’s memory, or outright nonsense, platitudes, or mere paraphrasing of things we all have already seen, read or heard many times before.

Whatever the case, the results of any kind of “automatic” expression would still be the product of our minds, be it the conscious or the unconscious part of it, and as such, they would have very little value within the paradigm of Jnana Yoga precisely because such expression would emanate from the mind, which from the perspective of that discipline is just the biggest obstacle for regaining direct knowledge of the True Source of our consciousness. Let's recall that, for transcendental purposes, the highest function of the intellect is to declare itself incapable of attaining direct knowledge of our Eternal Self, thereby accepting the need to “eliminate” the mind.

In writing the paragraph above, however, I’m by no means implying that any artistic expression or idea generated under any unconscious or paranormal state of mind has no value at all. No. The song “Yesterday,” for example, which was conceived by Paul McCartney during his sleep, is an excellent case in point to prove the value of such creative processes. What I’m primarily saying here is that creative processes such as creative dreaming or automatic writing don’t have any value whatsoever when it comes to ensuring a safe passage to the higher realms of the disembodied world when we die, which in the Jnana Yoga paradigm is all that matters; everything else is relative and ephemeral.

But even when contemplating the practice of “Unconscious” Expression by itself, any remarkable results that anyone may have obtained thus far through that practice are way too few and far between to consider such creative method as a reliable constant source of inspiration. Aside from “Yesterday” and very few other creative examples of that caliber, what other masterpieces are out there that have been created through the means of Automatic Expression? Clearly not enough of them to remember them.

No one can come around claiming that Dali or Picasso or Miró created the bulk of their work using paranormal means of inspiration. The work of those painters has a clearly deliberate touch to it, and although they may have sometimes drawn preliminary sketches of their work in a spontaneous manner, which could have easily been inspiration of the “normal” kind as well, afterwards they went ahead and very purposely applied their acquired technique to the work at hand. Reason, therefore, shows us that the use of “paranormal” states of mind as a means for generating art or ideas very seldom produces original results, which is why I don’t consider them as viable alternatives to the “normal” kind of inspiration.

The case of spiritism as it pertains to Jnana Yoga, on the other hand, is a bit more blurry, as Jnana Yoga clearly has a lot to do with otherworldly matters too. Still, the defining differences between them are easily detectable, first in their objectives and then in their means to achieve those objectives.

The objective in the practice of Jnana Yoga is to regain knowledge of our Eternal Essence, and the means prescribed in that discipline to obtain that objective is the practice of the Atma Vichara (Who am I?) or the practice of “Neti-Neti” (not this, not that) Thus, the practitioners inquire constantly into their minds and beyond in an effort to rediscover the Eternal Source of their consciousness. The attitude of the Jnana Yoga practitioner, therefore, is an active one.

The objective of spiritism, on the other hand, is to allow an otherworldly entity to utilize a human body as vehicle for sending messages to this world, and the means prescribed in that practice to obtain that objective is to set the mind in a state of trance. The mediums don’t have any direct personal quest in their practice; their purpose is simply to serve as mouthpieces for otherworldly entities. The attitude of the medium, therefore, is a passive one.

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