An Ocean in a Drop

Here are 2 translations from a poem of the weaver Kabir.

All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.

A drop
Melting into the sea,
Everyone can see.
But the sea
In a drop β€”
A rare one
can follow!

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32 Responses to An Ocean in a Drop

  1. Jnana says:

    Oh wow, that Kabir!

    Knowledge of the second merge came much later for me.

  2. gayanee says:

    Nested infinities! Every point in every infinity is an infinity… Happy to see new articles! I have missed them. πŸ™‚

  3. Lindsey L says:

    Beautifully shared. πŸ˜€

  4. That second translation is so much more meaningful and beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing both, Davidya.
    I recently posted…Virtual Reincarnation in The Age of AwakeningMy Profile

  5. Scott says:

    Nice! 2x

  6. Uli says:

    “I don’t believe that we are a drop of water that is separated from the ocean and goes back in the ocean and melts back in the ocean. I used to believe that. I used to believe that a part of us would melt back in to the ocean – but another part really remains forever. We do not loose this part. This part is your unique soul, your unique identity, your unique self. This unique being that is you is different from me. Each one of us is a very unique being. Even though we are all made of the ocean, we remain unique. A different coloured fish in the ocean. And most of the spiritual paths, they overlook the fish. And they try to go over to the ocean.
    …From the world to the absolute, yes, and they leave in between the essential domain and the essential self. In the room of essence where all these qualities exist there is also a self, an identity. Some people call it the soul, some people call it the higher self, some people call it the spirit – many, names for it.
    There is a being, an individual being, that is uniquely you, that is not going to be repeated and is not going to be lost. When you get enlightened, this being does not dissolve. What dissolves is your limitation of the mind, the limitation of the false personality. But the essential personality remains and shines and gets more and more enlightened and more and more mature and you become really human adults. It remains forever and ever. None of us die, we only change robes.
    If we are the ocean, there is no identity of the ocean – the ocean is the ocean. The absolute is the absolute. The absolute never say, β€œI”, there is no β€œI-ness” in the absolute. There is a individual being, but no identity. No individuality. The sense of identity comes because we have a unique self; we have a unique soul.”

    – Faisal Muqaddam

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Uli
      Some people do experience it like merging into the ocean in a very literal way. It can even be visual or felt. And some do experience the ocean flowing back into the drop. This is why there is language like Kabir’s and some other traditions. Even Donovan sung about it.

      There is also a very literal ocean from which our universe arises. It’s movement is described as the primordial sound.

      The point of the quote was observing the second step, the embodiment we might say.

      I would not consider soul and higher Self to be equivalent. Atman is the self of universal consciousness. It is the stuff of the ocean. The soul is the point value, the unique perspective that is the origin of this particular form. Knowing both together is the foundation of full enlightenment.

      So the point here is living wholeness, and then Totality through the soul. That goes beyond what your quote describes where the absolute is also here. There isn’t two. If there is two, the second step has not yet begun.

  7. michael says:

    Hi David!

    Love the quote from Faisal and love your answer to it. It is beautiful putting both texts together!!!
    Something that is not much talked about (at least from a direct experience) is what some traditions call oversoul (this is not atman). From direct expierence i can say that makes the whole “puzzle” even more fascinating πŸ™‚

    All the best

    • Davidya says:

      The way “oversoul” is defined varies. Some seem to be referring to what Sanskrit would call Purusha or the cosmic body. Some seem more talking about soul groups.

  8. Uli says:

    Thank you, David!
    I’m more and more interested in what the Kabbalah calls the zelem β€œwhich is not identical with any of the parts of the soul [. . . but] is the principle of individuality with which every single human being is endowed, the spiritual configuration or essence that is unique to him and to him alone” (Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah)

    Feeling that this is missing in the present conversations about spirituality…

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Uli
      That sounds to be what the Vedas call Ahamkara, the individuating principle. The word is often translated as ego but that can be misleading.

      A lot of current dialogue dismisses or even demonizes the person. And yet it clearly continues. In fact, I’ve noted the very awake often become more unique as their fetters fall away.

      Part of the issue is most of the dialogue is focused on awakening, on surrendering the ego. But as more and more people are moving past that, there is more talk of embodiment and a more sensible householders approach to living.

      • Davidya says:

        It’s worth noting that in the broader sense, we’re all made of the same stuff and at the same time. The difference is only in the emphasis, the more dominant laws of nature that make one smarter, another faster, another into plants, etc etc.

      • gayanee says:

        Could it also be the Ishta devata?

        • Davidya says:

          Hi Gayanee
          No, the ishta devata is ones chosen form of God. The form of God we most relate to.

          In a sense, we might see this as the embodiment of the higher self, but this is a more universal one rather our local individuality.

          It’s also something we may “outgrow” if we merge in God Realization. Then there isn’t a need for form for a relationship with the divine.

  9. Uli says:

    Your comments…?:

    The sacred is often imaged as an “ocean” while the individual is a “drop” whose destiny is to return to or merge with the ocean. A drop, though, can do things that an ocean cannot. An ocean, for example, cannot become a teardrop shape. If one says that the individual seek the Unity the way drops seek the ocean, it could equally be said that through evaporation, the ocean seeks to become drops and the Unity seeks to become individual. Which is the true destination or destiny? One could imagine a Monthy Python type rendition of this, a la “Life of Brian”, in which one faction seeks to follow the drop while the other seeks to follow the ocean! In my own experience, neither “drop” nor “ocean” fully capture the Mystery of the Sacred, nor for that matter the Mystery of Self. Mystery is accessible from both the “drop” state and the “ocean” state… One is not choosing between the drop or the ocean, the self or the no-self, the particle or the wave, the personal or the transpersonal. Each needs to be honored and seen in paradoxical partnership in order to attune to what is neither drop nor ocean, but rather the Mystery behind both…

    David Spangler

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Uli
      The sacred can also be experienced as an ocean, the individual as a drop or orb. But yes, these are just various perspectives or ways of seeing. It is not the compete “truth”.

      The way I’d put it, consciousness is aware of itself both globally and at every point within itself. (ocean and drops) The point of the second is total knowledge can only be found from both – global and many unique perspectives.

      Each of us brings a unique perspective of the whole, adding that to the totality of knowing/ being. Without any one of us, there would not be totality.

      So yes, it’s both together. It is uniting while still having a unique take, a unique unfoldment.

      I’m also disinclined to use the word Mystery as it implies there are things that cannot be known. I see there are simply things that are not yet known. (and the limitations of what one point can unfold in a lifetime (laughs)) But it’s all knowable because we can become it.

  10. gayanee says:

    David, you really have a way of expressing from totality even someone that may not be in Brahman Consciousness can understand.

    I have been having revelations on the nested infinities. A few days ago while driving all of a sudden the drop and the ocean became one. One was not or couldn’t possibly be different from the other. How could one infinity be different from another were the words that came out of the mouth. Could you please comments on that?

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Gayanee
      Thanks. Just keep in mind that any concepts we might gain should be held lightly. Concepts never meet the direct experience (as your example illustrates for you).

      Sounds beautiful. You may have had an experience (taste) or the beginning of a larger process. In that case, you’ll find the experience expands to become progressively more inclusive. Time will tell.

      Thanks for sharing.

      • Gayanee says:

        Thanks! Yes all drops are slowly being included in the experience in various ways without each drop losing their individuality. The recognition and the experience that the ocean and the drops have no difference whatsoever has been just so wonderful to the being here. πŸ™‚
        And thank you for the reminder about concepts!

  11. michael says:

    Hi David!

    Could you write a little more about what this ahamkara means?

    • Davidya says:

      Sure. In the Vedic canon are what is called the 6 darshanas or systems of philosophy. One is Samkhya, pertaining to number. It describes the stages of expression arising from the interaction of nature and spirit, prakriti and purusha.

      From a universal place there is a threefold individuation: mahat, ahamkara, and manas. The intellect (mahat) gives direction and discriminates. It discriminates self from other, creating the basic ego sense, ahamkara (which means ‘I am maker’) and that gives rise to what we might call local mind. And thence the idea of my thoughts, my emotions, etc.

      This is a philosophy driven by a non-awake perspective. Later stages considerably adjust how we relate to these aspects but it remains a decent starting point.

      Hope that makes sense.

  12. Uli says:

    Hi David,
    Reading this quote from Aurobindo struck a chord with the Kabir quote…your thoughts…?

    The divine soul will be aware of the three grades of the supramental existence, not as we are mentally compelled to regard them, not as grades, but as a triune fact of the self-manifestation of Sachchidananda. It will be able to embrace them in one and the same comprehensive self-realisation, β€” for a vast comprehensiveness is the foundation of the truth-conscious supermind. It will be able divinely to conceive, perceive and sense all things as the Self, its own self, one self of all, one Self-being and Self-becoming, but not divided in its becomings which have no existence apart from its own self-consciousness.
    It will be able divinely to conceive, perceive and sense all existences as soul-forms of the One which have each its own being in the One, its own standpoint in the One, its own relations with all the other existences that people the infinite unity, but all dependent on the One, conscious form of Him in His own infinity. It will be able divinely to conceive, perceive and sense all these existences in their individuality, in their separate standpoint living as the individual Divine, each with the One and Supreme dwelling in it and each therefore not altogether a form or eidolon, not really an illusory part of a real whole, a mere foaming wave on the surface of an immobile Ocean, β€” for these are after all no more than inadequate mental images, β€” but a whole in the whole, a truth that repeats the infinite Truth, a wave that is all the sea, a relative that proves to be the Absolute itself when we look behind form and see it in its completeness.

    – Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

    • Davidya says:

      Hi Uli
      Right, only here the analogy is more wave and ocean rather than drop. (Which can be experienced very literally too)

      He’s also talking about an unfolding. Starting with Self Realization (CC) which matures as satchitananda (absolute bliss consciousness), perceives the world becoming (GC), and then recognizes it all as my Self (Unity). With both Unity and refined perception, the understanding of the second part unfolds naturally.

      Some however miss the perception part at first and recognize Oneness in consciousness alone, only later coming to see that on the surface as well. And some perceive some of the above (less the oneness) prior to awakening. They would then have the full value described when they do wake up.

  13. Uli says:

    One more…

    Meher Baba: When we think of the individual, we at once grasp it as something limited, so it cannot be identical with the unlimited whole. You are right in saying that the individual must lose himself in the whole, but the matter does not rest there.

    We may compare the individual to the drop, and the whole to the ocean. The drop is separate from the ocean, and again merges into it. What then is the purpose of its being separated if it is merely to merge itself again in the way it was originally merged? Evolution would be fruitless if we end where we started. The individual has to retain his individuality and realise his unity with the whole consciously. Thus Christ realises God as Christ. You realise God as yourself. It is a personal realisation.

    December 1937, Nagpur

    • Davidya says:

      Yes, exactly.
      There is a distinction between experiencing as the ocean and experiencing as the drop. A different perspective. The drop is able to bring our nuances and details that the ocean alone cannot.

      Many drops increase the ocean…

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