Tranquillity and Transcendence

Both tranquillity and transcendence indicate our need for freedom from suffering and limitation. Tranquillity effects a partial release from restrictions, whereas transcendence suggests the possibility of a more fundamental emancipation. When we are tranquil we can live, move and work in the world in harmony and ease of heart. Transcendence goes beyond these conditions, signifying total freedom from oppression, inner and outer. In the non-dual teachings, tranquillity is a means through which higher faculties of our mind are brought to life, and these faculties will enable us to recognise that our ultimate nature does in fact transcend all limitations.

Many people do apply to their life effective relief strategies, sometimes through outer aids, sometimes with the help of some inspiring thought, maxim or inspirational sentence that we have made our own. A great interest or hobby, if it involves concentration without conversation, can not only calm us but also induce forgetfulness of our tensions, at least while we are lost in our activity. The cellist, Pablo Casals, in extreme old age, would daily sit at his piano, and it is said that his frail 90-year-old body would be transformed and energised as he played some pieces by Bach. He explained:

It is not a mechanical routine but something essential to my daily life. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach. I cannot think of doing otherwise. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning for me. It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being. The music is never the same for me, never. Each day is something new, fantastic, unbelievable. That is Bach, like nature, a miracle!

This is a hint of transcendence, where our mind, for a time, is in another realm—not, in this case, the highest, but a definite deliverance from cares and anxieties. So our relief strategy can be anything sufficiently absorbing that it draws us away from thinking about ‘me’.

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This article is from the Summer 2021 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.