Navigating The Spiritual Marketplace – The Bearded Mystic Podcast
Transcript of Episode 13: Navigating The Spiritual Marketplace
Hello, and welcome to the 13th episode of The Bearded Mystic Podcast and I’m your host Rahul N Singh. Thank you for joining today and for taking out the time to either listen or watch this podcast.
Today we’re going to be talking about navigating the spiritual marketplace, should we stick to one path or can we remain loyal there or is spirituality about evolution? So once you’ve met the targets you set yourself in one place that you then look to enhance your experience somewhere else. Do we drop spiritual practices or philosophies once they’ve met their purpose? This is something we are going to discuss today and it’s an interesting one because everyone has their own opinion about this. This is just really my opinion and I’m going to share that with you and this is a conversation. So you got to let me know. Let me know in the comments on YouTube. Let me know on Instagram, let me know on Twitter, o what you think about this topic about navigating the spiritual marketplace. I love to know what you think.
Today as we begin this, let’s just first accept the fact that the spiritual marketplace is growing each and every moment. Now, when I say spirituality, it’s such a broad church, really, because you have people that believe in the rich philosophy of say Advaita Vedanta or theology, people discuss that to a large extent. There’s also spirituality without God. Then there’s spirituality that looks a healing. So you’ve got things like Reiki and hypnotherapy, and then you have all types of therapy. Then you’ve got things like crystals, numerology, astrology, or all these can be grouped up as spirituality.
Now, is it easy to navigate around this? If it’s such a broad market, what happens? We end up becoming quite lost or we become overwhelmed or we get distracted and we go in the diversion. How do we stabilize ourselves to ensure that we’re evolving spiritually? This is the key question.
We first need to define what spirituality really is and what it is really about?
Spirituality is really the study of the spirit or who we are. This is the real practice of spirituality. If we are doing other things, they are probably to help us in our body or in our life, in our story. It’s all related to the ego. The Hindu texts and also in the Sikh text, it’s also mentioned, people get spiritual powers. Some people can listen to a conversation despite being a thousand miles away, you have things like that. They call them Siddhis in sanskrit. They also say that if you have these powers, so you may have healing powers, for example, even that is just another form of subtle ego.
You’ve not really transcended yourself or transcended this existence. It’s very easy to get warped back into the egoic thinking. Now, just imagine if you can heal somebody, guess what? That means. There’s a separation, there’s the healer and the one that needs to be healed. If you look at it from the viewpoint of the spirit, there’s only one. If you look at the point of consciousness, there is only one. The real purpose of spirituality is a study of consciousness, is understanding what consciousness is and getting ourselves attuned to that understanding. We may call it this as the self. We may call it this as the soul or the Atman, or consciousness, as awareness. It has many names, but fundamentally that’s the purpose of spirituality.
Now for me, the truest spiritual practice is self-inquiry into who am I? This is the fundamental question in spirituality. If we have not asked this question, we cannot say that we really are on the spiritual journey and neither can we say we are now spiritually enlightened or awakened, if we have not fully understood who we are. If I still think that I am this body and mind, and this is who I am, then I’ve not got there. I’m not studying the formless aspect of me. I’m not studying the imageless aspect of me. I’m not studying that, which has no form, which has no image, which has no shape. I’m not studying that. That’s the fundamental question. Who am I? This begins the spiritual journey. Whatever happens when we are studying this aspect of spirituality, it’s always going to bring us back to who we really are. It will reveal to us what is our eternal nature. Anything else that you know, puts on the garb of spirituality, but distracts you from knowing who you are. It’s just a distraction and the ego loves distraction.
I’ve done an episode before where I talk about investing in your story. That’s what exactly it is. If we start going into, “oh, I need to open up my third eye.” Guess what? You’re still attaching yourself to a form. You’re still attaching yourself to a subjective reality. If the Ultimate Reality is beyond the Third Eye, then go towards the Ultimate Reality, go towards Brahman, allow Brahman to reveal Itself to you. In fact, it’s always revealing itself. It’s always here. We’re just not alert to it and no, the third eye doesn’t awaken and then you see Brahman. The third eye just means the unveiling of the truth. That’s what it really means. If you’re on this podcast and you’re expecting me to embrace some of the things that are said in the spiritual marketplace, I’m not going to entertain those. They may have a certain purpose for someone depending on where they are in their spiritual journey but right now I’m talking about the highest purpose and in the highest purpose, everything else is a distraction. Brahman is the only thing we should concentrate on. That’s the highest purpose. But anyway, anything that sticks us to duality needs to be discarded. And I even say, this may be something hard to understand, but even if there is a subtle difference between you and god or what you term as god, if there is that subtle separation in your practice or in your understanding of spirituality, the full understanding has not happened. The complete understanding is there is complete oneness. There’s complete non-duality. If I have to still pray to this god. Who is it? That’s really praying. If I say I am the soul, why would the soul need to pray? If the soul is the same as God? Why? Obviously it means I don’t really see myself as the soul. I don’t see myself as the atman. So I have to embrace this. I have to embrace the fact that I’m still living in duality. Only when I’ve woken myself up saying I’m in duality, am I going to go towards non-duality. But if I’m stuck in duality, and I don’t know I’m in that dual aspect of living, I’m not going to go towards that non-dual experience. I need to wake myself up, even if there’s a subtle difference.
Forget about the difference between us and God. People have a subtle difference between them and their spiritual teacher. I know we’re meant to worship our spiritual teachers and we should, it’s a good practice, but how about worshiping them in oneness? That there’s a complete merging between the two? Or do it in the awareness that you know, that this is a little play in existence. That to the world, we may look different and you’re mocking that perception of difference. That’s the true journey towards that non-duality.
Another truth that ends up happening is once we enter that state of non-duality, then you realize one fundamental truth. There is no ‘you’. There is no ‘I’, there is no ‘me’. There is no separate self. And I mean this in terms of not on the transactional level. On the transactional level, everything is.
If someone tries to shortchange me at the restaurant, I am going to speak up. I’ve got money to save. That still has to happen. You don’t stop living in that way. I’m talking about the true understanding. When this true understanding is there is no ‘you’ there’s no ‘me’, there’s no ‘I’, then can there be a teacher? Can there be a God? Can they be any practice? In the true non-dual realization, there’s no need for god, there’s no need for the guru, there’s no need for spiritual practice. There’s no need for any of those things. They don’t exist as separate objects. Now there’s only oneness. This is a very subtle point, a very difficult point to even embrace. I have struggled to accept this. Only in recent times, have I understood what it truly means, but I’ve struggled with it and I’m with you in that struggle. I understand why it’s so hard to get rid of duality. It’s really difficult. Our mind will always get back to dual thinking. We don’t even have to put any attention to that. The mind would automatically go into duality because duality is so comforting. Non-dual awakening is not so comforting in the sense of, if you think in duality. Therefore it’s a real difficult truth to comprehend and even to accept, but it can be done. We’re all strong enough to do it. We all have that inner consciousness that is speaking out to us. That’s telling us to wake up, there’s no separate you. We’ve just got to wake up to it, we got to listen to that sound within, and that’s what meditation is about is listening to that inner sound of silence.
Our understanding has to be that we are formless consciousness, timeless consciousness. That’s the highest teaching. That’s the highest pointing. Fundamentally every spiritual teacher that’s genuine will take us to that point. Every genuine teacher, every one of them. Past, present and in the future, they will always bring us back to this awareness. You will never see a teacher try to get you attached to their physical form. There’s no need to. The disciples may, don’t listen to them. They’re still on the journey. They still want to trap you because they’re still trapped. Go towards what the scripture are saying. Now the funny thing is there are scriptures that even will deny what I’ve said. It will counteract what I’ve said but I’m just going by what I’ve experienced and I’m just sharing that. Nothing goes beyond that experience and new age practices like healing your chakras, opening your pineal gland, opening you’re third eye, they’re just distractions. If you really want spiritual enlightenment go towards that person that will tell you the truth of your existence. The person that will tell you who you truly are and will guide you to that point. They’re the real teacher. They’re the real ones. I just would like to emphasize that any practice that creates a duality, even one like God and you or guru and disciple, then that is not a spiritual path of the highest attainment. It’s merely a new tradition or a new culture that creating, or it’s an existing tradition and an existing culture.
I’ve probably just made the spiritual marketplace shrink, exceedingly in this episode. Like I said, it’s up to us, what we want to practice and there’s much to learn from everything. Like I said, in the very beginning, my first podcast, there’s still a lot to learn and still it’s best to be open to everything than closed-minded to everything. I’m talking about something from the highest level of spiritual understanding, but that doesn’t mean that anything lower is not worthy. All I’m saying is, it’s just not going to get you to the highest. It would take you to the next step, but you have to understand that once you’ve climbed that one step, to go to the next step, you have to let go of what you’ve just believed in and a lot of times we just accumulate what we believe in. We don’t actually grow in that way. Spirituality is always simple and should always remain so. My fundamental belief is just keep spirituality as simple as possible. When we start adding things on, it gets more complex, it gets more difficult and it ends up distracting us from the real purpose, the real goal and the real target that we have. If I really want spiritual enlightenment, but I go the long way round, I’m not going to develop. It’s best to remain focused on that one. Pat, if you want spiritual enlightenment, if you’re listening to this podcast and all you want is to understand who you are, then only go for that. Don’t concentrate on anything else, if you really sincerely want to get there. Otherwise that huge marketplace is there and it will always be there. It will always exist. It’s always in the battle with the true purpose of spirituality, always in battle.
So it’s up to you, there’s multiple courses, and there’s multiple practices, and they all say that if you complete this course, then you will achieve joy, you will feel ecstasy, you will feel this and that, but have you ever noticed that once you experienced that course, they tell you, oh yeah, that was the beginner level. Now there’s the advanced level. There are many gurus that do this. Many of them. I really appreciate the ones that stick to one practice and say that can take you to the Highest Truth. That can take you to the highest attainment. I appreciate those more, even if they have aspects of duality in there. But the ones that say this is beginner level. Now there’s an advanced level. If you don’t do this, you won’t get to the highest level. Oh, you also now need to become celibate or you now need to become a monk. Any of those things, they are just distracting you. They are fooling you in my opinion. And if you disagree with me, let me know.
Let’s discuss this because the whole point of spirituality is a discussion and this is leading to my next point is that spirituality is functioned in two ways. One, they can either be a discourse. So you normally just listen to the spiritual teacher talk for like hours. One hour, two hours, three hours. Also through Socratic dialogue. So you will have like question and answer sessions and then there’s some who are willing to debate. See the beauty of the past was this with Adi Shankara or the first Shankaracharya he went through debate. The way he coined Advaita Vedanta was and how he made it popular was through debate. Today, you can’t debate spirituality. People get really upset. It’s like they say, well, this is my practice. I don’t want to be disturbed and I find that we’re missing out. Some people do debate, no matter what people think of him, but Deepak Chopra, I really, really think he’s a great person for at least being open to debate. At least he’s honest enough to do that and courageous enough to do that.
I do feel it’s really important to have debate and if someone isn’t willing to debate, I really feel that they’re not convinced of their truth. If you’re convinced of your truth, you will debate. If you lose, it doesn’t matter.
Now think about it. If you, if you really believe in non-duality. Even if you lose, there’s no one that’s lost and even if you win, there’s no one that’s won. That’s why the ego cannot sustain itself in non-duality. But the ego will love itself in the spiritual marketplace.
I would say the real purpose of meditation is the debate between what is true existence and ego. Ego fighting consciousness. That is meditation. That’s the debate that goes on when we’re meditating. For consciousness, it doesn’t matter who wins. It knows the ego doesn’t really exist.
One thing I do want to establish is that blind faith can never have a place on the spiritual path. If we have blind faith in any way, any shape or form, if we are just told to believe in something and not to question it that path needs the most questions. It must go through intense questioning. It must be inquired into completely.
No true path towards the truth will ever say to have blind faith. If you want to experience Brahman, I would say go and experience it. Don’t believe in Brahman. Don’t believe in the Ultimate Reality. Know it, realize it, have direct perception of it, don’t believe in it. It doesn’t care about what you believe in. It will always be whether you believe in it or not. What is that? What is it that is beyond belief and non-belief? What is it? So blind faith can never have a place in true spirituality. But I will say that having faith with an open mind can lead to realization. This is something we should all try and go for, because I’ll go back to one of the first questions I asked. And now I’ll answer that now that it is better to drop a belief that has run its course or to drop a philosophy that’s run its course than to keep hold of it and say, you rather stick to one thing.
For example, let me put it this way, you’re a boat going along the ocean. If you just stick to one place and it’s not making you grow, you’re just a boat stuck in the middle of the ocean. But if you want to reach the land, you have to be on a boat that moves. So you have to ensure that your spiritual practice that you’re doing today, the philosophy that you believe in today is making you move towards the destination. Once you reach the destination, then that’s different. Even if in your spiritual practice you’ve been shown or spiritual path, you’ve been shown the Ultimate Reality. If the practices aren’t helping you get to that direct perception all the time, something is not right with the practices and it takes courage to look at it in such a direct way. It does take courage. Spirituality is about direct perception and until that we will be navigating the spiritual marketplace, but aimlessly and with no real purpose. I hope I’m making myself very clear that if you have a practice or a path or you go to a spiritual organization or you follow a religion but it’s making you move towards the land. Brilliant. But if you’re just stuck in the middle of the ocean in your boat, with no one around you, but just blind faith, then you have to ask whether that’s worth it. We only have a few moments of life. Do we want to maximize it with the Ultimate Reality? Or do we want to minimize it with the transactional reality. It’s truly up to us.
Just to recap, there’s a broad market, which has one positive that there’s more choice for each person, what they want to follow, they can follow and they can find a unique path for themselves.
That’s there for them. Spirituality is all about discovering. Who am I? What is my existence? What is my purpose here? Do I have a purpose? Spirituality is more powerful when it is simple. I only have one philosophy and that is there’s only the Ultimate Reality. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing more to add. Kept it real simple and my journey is just about going towards that. There’s days when I get distracted, but ultimately I keep going towards ‘who am I? What am I? What is the Ultimate Reality? Am I living in the Ultimate Reality or am I distracting myself with the ego? That’s the question. I wish you all the best in your journey. Just be honest with yourself and you can navigate this spiritual marketplace for good fun too.
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