The day the gods go on holiday

shrineIn the Indian spiritual tradition, mahasamadhi is the state of leaving one’s body consciously—a willful, self-caused death that is not really a death, but a permanent union with the limitless consciousness realised while inside the body. One can only enter mahasamadhi it is said, if the non-dual state of nirvikalpa samadhi has been attained, a state of consciousness which sees the duality of subject and object, “I” and “you,” body and surrounding world, finally and completely resolved.

With spiritual masters said to be fully in control of their own passing, it is at the very least a grand, elaborate coincidence that Sri Chinmoy’s departure from our world concurred with a highly significant spiritual date—the day the gods in Japan go on holiday.

October in Japan is known as Kan’na zuki, literally “the month when there are no gods,” for on October 11—the beginning of the month according to the traditional Japanese lunar calendar, the eight million kami or gods of the Shinto tradition leave their more than eighty thousand shrines for a 30 day holiday, obeying a heavenly summons to Izumo Taisha—the oldest shrine in the nation.

Like the gods of Japan—a country he repeatedly stated his reverence and fondness for—Sri Chinmoy also went on holiday on October 11, only his holiday was somewhat extended, and without a return ticket—a permanent vacation in the sunny climes of the inner worlds.

And with eight million gods in the air, it would have been an extremely busy day traveling…

* * *

Of course in leaving our world, Sri Chinmoy didn’t really go on holiday, and as a spiritual master he didn’t really leave this world—a spiritual master is first and foremost a master of the spirit, and lives on in that realm, which pervades and is the true source of this physical one, eternally.

As Sri Chinmoy wrote in his final poem, published on the night of October 10:

My physical death is not the end of my life
I am an Eternal journey.

* * *

The Samadhis

What is savikalpa samadhi?
Savikalpa samadhi
The experience
Of Purity-sea

What is nirvikalpa samadhi?
Nirvikalpa samadhi
The experience
Of loftiest Self-transcendence.
What is sahaja samadhi?

Sahaja samadhi
Reality’s message simplified:
Ignorance lost
Immortality won.

In the Cosmic Game
You discover
That you eternally and supremely are
What all along,
From time immemorial,
You have been
Helplessly and desperately
Aspiring to become.

Sri Chinmoy, The Dance Of Life, Part 15

* * *

With more than eighty thousand shrines and eight million kami, or gods, Japan has an awful lot of divine beings to go around admittedly rather a lot of shrines, so it is just as well said deities are presiding over a land famed for its harmony and order—it would not be Japanese to let a little disagreement over living quarters lead to fighting words or, heaven forbid, flailing swords.

One does of course assume that these figures are accurate—but then precision and accuracy are very Japanese qualities, and more than likely a team of monks spent decades counting every shrine and associated kami, from A through to Z, cataloguing them all together in a multi-volume work bearing a highly poetic name of exactly seventeen syllables.

  • alf
    Posted at 07:52h, 18 December

    Memo #37593739:

    Staff should be aware that starting October 11, we are going on a ‘conference.’ Upper management will hold their annual meeting at Izumo Taisha as per the usual arrangement. This is a legitimate business use of divine resources and should not be referred as a holiday, due to the public misconception that this may create about our activities at this time. We work very hard throughout the rest of the year and Kan’na zuki will not be an exception. (BYO Saki.)

  • Shane Magee
    Posted at 03:58h, 29 December

    This may be my favourite out of all your posts – thank you

  • Jaitra Gillespie
    Posted at 04:18h, 29 December

    Alf, I hope you received Heavenly memo #37593738, in which the topic of even limited disclosure of our godly holiday activities was strictly prohibited. Just making sure. Btw, have got any Edo ’68 Saki? That one is definitely the best…

  • Jaitra Gillespie
    Posted at 04:18h, 29 December

    Thank you very much Shane. Very pleased that you are reading.

  • CG Walters
    Posted at 00:57h, 19 February

    Thank you for this very interesting article, John.
    Many blessings to you and all you hold dear,

    CG Walters’s last blog post..Spirit Story…an Old Genre Reawakening

  • Jaitra Gillespie
    Posted at 08:07h, 19 February

    Thank you for your kind comment CG.

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