Episode 4: Spiritual Bypassing

Spiritual Bypassing The Bearded Mystic Podcast

In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses how spiritual bypassing doesn't allow us to spiritually grow. To mature into the Ultimate Reality, it is important that we embrace reality as it is instead of blaming our circumstances or praising our circumstances to something outside of our control even if that is God or Karma.  I hope you enjoyed listening to this 4th episode. If you would like to learn more with my Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.Please rate and write a review for this Podcast, it will be greatly appreciated.New episodes will be available every Sunday.If you would like to attend a free weekly meditation with me, join my Whatsapp group:https://chat.whatsapp.com/DcdnuDMeRnW53E0seVp28bSubscribe to the free monthly The Bearded Mystic Newsletter: http://thebeardedmysticpodcast.substack.comYou can find links to Live Streams, Podcast, Videos etc: https://linktr.ee/thebeardedmysticpodcastYou can follow me and contact me on social media:TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdk3HPJh/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebeardedmysticpodcast/Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheBeardedMysticPodcast/Twitter: https://twitter.com/bearded_mysticFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Bearded-Mystic-PodcastSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/thebeardedmysticpodcast)

Episode 3: Three Spiritual Books Every Seeker Needs To Read

3 Spiritual Books Every Seeker Needs To Read The Bearded Mystic Podcast

In this episode, The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses 3 spiritual books that every serious seeker needs to read. The episode discusses the importance of each book and how they benefit the seeker on the journey and little insights from the three books are shared. You can get the three books via the links below and this is based if you are in the US. For any other country, either do a search or use your home country's Amazon page. I am not affiliated to any of these books in any way and will not receive any money from the sales of these books. I only recommend them based on my own reading of the books.The Upanishads (Tr. Eknath Easwaran): https://amzn.to/3vZVUe4Tao Te Ching (Tr. Derek Lin): https://amzn.to/35TGAoTAshtavakra Gita (Tr. John Richards: https://amzn.to/3dh87EVIf you follow Swami Sarvapriyananda, who is an excellent Spiritual Teacher of Hinduism, he recommends the following translation of the Ashtavakra Gita, here referred to as Ashtavakra Samhita (Tr. Swami Nityaswarupananda): https://amzn.to/3jeD8NpYou probably could find free versions of these books on the net, but search at your own risk. I hope you enjoyed listening to this 3rd episode. If you would like to learn more with my Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.Please rate and write a review for this Podcast, it will be greatly appreciated.New episodes will be available every Sunday.If you would like to attend a free weekly meditation with me, join my Whatsapp group:https://chat.whatsapp.com/DcdnuDMeRnW53E0seVp28bSubscribe to the free monthly The Bearded Mystic Newsletter: http://thebeardedmysticpodcast.substack.comYou can find links to Live Streams, Podcast, Videos etc: https://linktr.ee/thebeardedmysticpodcastYou can follow me and contact me on social media:TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdk3HPJh/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebeardedmysticpodcast/Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheBeardedMysticPodcast/Twitter: https://twitter.com/bearded_mysticFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Bearded-Mystic-PodcastSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/thebeardedmysticpodcast)

Episode 2: Namaste! It’s Not Your Average Hello

Namaste! It's Not Your Average Hello! The Bearded Mystic Podcast

The Bearded Mystic Podcast discusses the meaning behind the greeting commonly said in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. In this 2nd episode, I discuss how Namaste can be used as tool for spiritual growth and development. Check out Timber Hawkeye's book, Buddhist Boot Camp: https://amzn.to/3wU1KiG (The author hasn't asked me to promote this book, I just really loved reading it!)I hope you enjoyed listening to this 2nd episode. If you would like to learn more with my Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.Please rate and write a review for this Podcast, it will be greatly appreciated.New episodes will be available every Sunday.If you would like to attend a free weekly meditation with me, join my Whatsapp group:https://chat.whatsapp.com/DcdnuDMeRnW53E0seVp28bSubscribe to the free monthly The Bearded Mystic Newsletter: http://thebeardedmysticpodcast.substack.comYou can find links to Live Streams, Podcast, Videos etc: https://linktr.ee/thebeardedmysticpodcastYou can follow me and contact me on social media:TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdk3HPJh/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebeardedmysticpodcast/Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheBeardedMysticPodcast/Twitter: https://twitter.com/bearded_mysticFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Bearded-Mystic-PodcastSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/thebeardedmysticpodcast)

Episode 1: What is a Mystic?

What is a Mystic? The Bearded Mystic Podcast

This episode is an introduction to the brand new The Bearded Mystic Podcast. In this introductory episode, I talk about what this podcast will be about and what to expect from the podcast. I go into some biographical details and then describe what a mystic is. If you want to listen to my Thoughts on The Bhagavad Gita and if you are interested in listening to more episodes like this on further chapters and verses, or on Non-Duality, or you want to learn more about the wisdom of the Mystics please follow/subscribe to this Podcast.Please rate and write a review for this Podcast on https://www.thebeardedmysticpodcast.com/reviews/new/ it will be greatly appreciated.New episodes will be available every Sunday.If you would like to attend a free weekly meditation with me, join my Whatsapp group:https://chat.whatsapp.com/DcdnuDMeRnW53E0seVp28bSubscribe to the free monthly The Bearded Mystic Newsletter: http://thebeardedmysticpodcast.substack.comSubscribe to The Bearded Mystic Podcast Communityhttps://www.patreon.com/thebeardedmysticpodcastYou can find links to Live Streams, Podcast, Videos etc: https://linktr.ee/thebeardedmysticpodcastYou can follow me and contact me on social media:TikTok: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdk3HPJh/Discord: https://discord.gg/nptDWG7r5JInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebeardedmysticpodcast/Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheBeardedMysticPodcast/Twitter: https://twitter.com/bearded_mysticFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Bearded-Mystic-PodcastSupport the show

The One with a Supreme Vision – Satguru Baba Hardev Singh Ji

Yesterday, on May 12th, it marked the 5th death anniversary of my Beloved Teacher Satguru Baba Hardev Singh Ji. Every single day since I discovered that He had left this Planet Earth to unmanifest Himself into the Formless, I have truly missed Him and wish His manifestation was still here to guide me.

Under His guidance, my spiritual journey grew immensely. His teachings of oneness, love and acceptance of everyone was what this world needed back in 2016 and what we increasingly need in 2021. It seems that since He left, the world is more divided, more labelled, more individualistic and more consumed with having more. We have become less open to listening to each other and more controlled by the devices we hold in our hands. Therefore, leaving less time to understand who the True Self is. Baba Ji often told us to discover this True Self and to completely identify with it. With this true identification of our origin, when we interact with the world, we will be noble citizens of humanity.

Baba Ji had a Supreme Vision and was beyond His time. It was a vision that sought others to stop discriminating based on caste or class, our educational background, our differing levels of wealth, our gender etc. In fact, He often called for equality, maybe understanding that in the times to come, income inequality will only grow and that even spirituality will be divided in such a way. Maybe He understood that if the rich were more giving and changed the structures of society, we would have a more just society. The rich wouldn’t show off with their charity work but do the real work and that is eradicate poverty and income inequality. Although, Baba Ji understood that it didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, you could still realize your True Self or God, but I also feel He knew that the poorest will be more worried about whether they would have food to eat that very night. Therefore, His emphasis of living in the world and leaving it more beautiful than when you found it makes absolute sense.

He understood the basic elements of religion had to be explored. Whether we wanted to go down the God route then by realizing God, we will know our True Self. If we chose to go down realizing what our origin is then by realizing that, we will realize what God is. You could be religious or an atheist – the origin remains the same beyond labels. We didn’t need to be bounded by rituals, but devote our time in the pursuit of realizing who we truly are. This was enlightenment described by Him. Being shown what the Truth is, was not enough. You had to live it, you had to be consumed by it. It has to become everything for you. There was nothing but the Truth – manifest and unmanifest, form and formless. It is all the One.

Baba Ji’s emphasis on the philosophy of the Formless is based on common sense. In the end we are all a bunch of atoms, and within those atoms, it is only Formless Energy. And say that one day, all of this is to be destroyed, even energy then in the end, what remains is Formless. Baba Ji didn’t see Formlessness as a form of nihilism, in fact, it was more positive. Baba Ji saw this Formless as pure potential for manifestation, if it so desired.

With these teachings, Baba Ji transformed my life for the better. He left me a lot better than when He found me for sure. By adapting His teachings, I found myself more forgiving, tolerant, and compassionate and these virtues came naturally. I didn’t have to practice them. They are already there as the pure potential of the Formless and His presence aswell as His teachings guided this.

I will always be indebted to Baba Ji, He was the best Guru that I could have asked for. He showed me how to be there for others by being there for me in tough times. He showed me how to listen to others because He always patiently listened. He showed me how to be aware of my origin, this Formless, this True Self by giving by the Wisdom to abide by it. I can never describe the transmission between the Master and the Disciple and even there, I always felt He wanted to remove that duality. It was like He saw the True Self in everyone and since He recognized it in Himself and that was how He interacted with others. With this state of true oneness, He would then embrace others. It was strange in fact, and I may have difficulty in describing it. However, as a disciple, I would always touch His feet, my Master’s feet with my head as was the custom and tradition. But then He would hug me and I would feel that we were the same, there was no difference. The seeming duality become non-dual with that single hug. I will miss the smile and the twinkle in His eyes as if reflecting my own whenever we would meet.

Baba Ji despite having a simple message, leading a relatively simple life, is possibly still misunderstood by the likes of me. He had a universal approach, a very human approach to spirituality and I don’t feel I have understood the scope of this. He certainly was a believer that we should practice the Teachings as we learned them deeply, and that we weren’t to simply repeat His words. In fact, we were meant to be more creative and go deeper into His teachings.

I simply haven’t let go of Baba Ji being my Spiritual Master. I don’t think I ever can and this may disappoint some and maybe some will relate completely to this. But 5 years on, I feel just as connected to Him, still as close to Him. In fact, in trying to embrace the more recent Masters has led me to more duality and has divided me somewhat. The matters of the Heart cannot be forced as love is gentle and sensitive. We can’t simply substitute greatness with a passing of a single thought or moment. 5 years on, it was meant to get easier but it seems to get more difficult as each day passes by.

I recall a moment with Baba Ji in December 2012. I told Him that I could only remain loyal to Him and that my allegiance was only to Him, not to any place or organization. And I still remember seeing Him smile and say ‘I know and I love you.’ I reiterated the same thing to Him in August 2014 on a conversation over the phone that my loyalty is with Him alone and nobody can take His place. His reply was ‘I know you are always with Me.’ These weren’t simply words of declaration but my living reality. The more I remembered the Formless, the more I connected with the Formless, Baba ji would get closer and be more of who He really was. The paradox was understood.

When you give yourself to someone as completely as I did to Him, you simply cannot ask for yourself back. You have no choice but to remain one beyond forms and beyond time.

Why I got the COVID-19 Vaccine and why you should too

I received my 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Apart from the usual side effects, I feel a great amount of the burden lifted off my shoulders that the Pandemic has brought.

As we see the Pandemic getting stronger despite a year of continuous and differing levels of restrictions, it has been painful to watch the scenes that we are seeing in India today. I am hearing of a growing number of family and friends getting COVID-19 and some even dying as a result. I can’t seem to voice how I feel, but I am definitely feeling a vacuum. This vacuum contains the memories and moments I could have created and spent with some of these people, only if COVID-19 didn’t take them away.

There is still some of the burden left on my shoulders. This burden is about not allowing myself to become complacent after receiving the vaccine. It is very easy to start acting like normal and pretending that we can now be free from COVID-19 infection. But the fact is, we can still get it and we can still spread it. The chances are low and maybe very slim but still the chances are very real indeed.

With the amount of misinformation about the vaccine, I fear that we will not reach global herd immunity. Yesterday, I came to know about Joe Rogan talking about if you are a healthy 21 year old then you shouldn’t get the vaccine. I find that what he has said to be irresponsible and a clear lack of understanding about COVID-19. It affects people differently, healthy or unhealthy. It doesn’t care about your age, your religion, your diet, your location as the virus only cares about it’s own survival. Dr. Fauci gave the best response to what Joe Rogan said and implored us all to think about society as a whole. We are seeing growing numbers of young people getting COVID-19 and some dying as a result. Some COVID-19 deniers, who were young and influential on social media, died after contracting the virus. I encourage everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine to get it. Do it for others, for society, or for your community. If you love yourself tremendously, get the vaccine, you want to stay healthy and especially, if you want to eliminate one possible cause of death. This is all about common sense.

We have experts, who study infectious diseases, who have worked hard to create technologies and science to create vaccines. We have public health bodies that want to ensure that clinical trials are conducted and that results are published. All of this is for our safety. Yes, some people may still get COVID-19 after getting the vaccine, some may die or get abnormal reactions from the vaccine but compared to number of people dying once they are infected by COVID-19, there is and will be a massive difference between the two. We only need to look at the statistics.

But my friends, who have received the vaccine, don’t get complacent and don’t think that everything is now back to normal. It isn’t and it will not be until every person eligible for the vaccine receives the vaccine and I am not talking about your country alone. I am talking about the whole globe. We are an interconnected world, dependent on each other, it benefits us all to get vaccinated. To help the poorer countries get the vaccine for their population, the WHO Foundation have an initiative called Go Give One – please donate to this. They say that $7 gives one vaccine to a poor country that cannot afford it. We can all do our bit to help. By the way, I am not affiliated by the WHO Foundation at all but feel we need to do this.

Adding to this, I want to express the steps we need to take going forward as this Pandemic continues and variants will appear that may affect the efficacy of the vaccines. I strongly encourage everyone to continue to wear masks, maintain 6ft of social distancing and wash our hands regularly. Avoid crowded places, public travel and large gatherings as much as possible. Until our Public Health bodies say that we have reached herd immunity, we should continue to take precaution. These steps apply to everyone – vaccinated and unvaccinated.

We need to keep in mind that this is a new disease that our experts are continuously receiving new data about. Guidelines may change according to the data. Instead of being annoyed that they have changed, let’s understand that circumstances change according to new information. Once we understand this, it is really easy to accept that some restrictions may get eased and then they bring those restrictions back. Instead of seeing it as control, we know it is about safety. We have to keep an open mind as much as possible regardless of how fatigued we get with the restrictions. However, politicians have to be honest with the public in regards of the severity of not complying to restrictions. It is about educating the public with respect. Don’t tell them that everything will be okay, instead prepare them that restrictions will be adjusted according to current data and it will always remain an evolving situation.

I don’t care about being preachy about this because like I said COVID-19 is an infectious disease that can lead to death. If you can book an appointment to get the vaccine, go and book it. Don’t delay it at all. The vaccines are a safer way to protect yourself and others. None of the doses of the vaccines itself will give you a COVID-19 infection as the doses do not have the live virus. I encourage you to read the CDC information on the vaccine.

I feel this is our duty and responsibility as a global citizen. Who knows what normal will look like going forward but all I can say is that today, you can stay safe.

Spiritual Practice – How much is enough?

I was reminded this Friday during a Spiritual Discussion about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers. Gladwell guides that it takes 10,000 hours of intensive practice to achieve mastery of complex skills and materials. Let’s take a look at what this looks for the casual spiritual aspirant and then for the serious spiritual seeker for them to achieve spiritual mastery. In the end, I will look at what other activities we can do to increase our hours to reach this 10,000 hour rule.

First of all, 10,000 hours is a guide. We may have to put much more hours in or we may have to put less hours. It is not that once you reach 10,000 hours, you will achieve spiritual enlightenment and all the secrets of the universe will be revealed in the most majestic fashion. Our honesty, intention, passion and sincerity will matter when it comes to spiritual attainment. So as I go through these scenarios for the casual spiritual aspirant and the serious spiritual seeker, I believe it is best to understand that these people are honest, compassionate, genuine, sincere and have good intentions. They are not fake in any way. To me, faith, devotion, worship and reverence means nothing if we do not have the basic decency of being honest and genuine.

Casual Spiritual Aspirant – 10,000 hours

The casual spiritual aspirant probably spends a couple hours a week. Let’s say they meditate for 30 minutes every day. They may attend a satsang or a spiritual meetup for 2-4 hours a week. They may do the occasional listening to a spiritual talk on YouTube or reading spiritual content for an hour in the week.

  • Meditation – 3.5 hours
  • Satsang/Spiritual Meetup – 2 hours
  • Watching, listening or reading spiritual content via social – 1 hour
  • Studying Scripture or Spiritual Texts –  30 minutes

The total will be 7 hours in the week. In one year, this will be a total of 364 hours. To reach the 10,000 hour level of mastery, it would take the casual spiritual aspirant around 27.5 years.

Serious Spiritual Seeker – 10,000 hours

The serious spiritual seeker will definitely be putting in more hours. Let’s say they meditate for 1 hour every day. They may attend a satsang or a spiritual meetup for 2-4 hours a week. They will most likely study scripture or read a spiritual text for a good 2 hours a day. Like the casual spiritual aspirant, they may listen to a spiritual talk between 1-2 hours a week.

  • Meditation session – 7 hours
  • Satsang/Spiritual Meetup – 4 hours
  • Watching, listening or reading spiritual content via social media – 2 hours
  • Studying Scripture or Spiritual Texts – 14 hours

This would amount to 27 hours in the week. In one year, this will be a total of 1404 hours. To reach the 10,000 hour level of mastery, it would take the serious spiritual seeker around 7.1 years.

These are basic scenarios and it will differ person to person and the above spiritual activities will be interchangeable for example, someone may meditate more or attend more spiritual meetups per week. Someone may be living in an ashram and that can change things dramatically. The below examples may be something they do instead of the activities I mentioned above.

Examples of Other Spiritual Activities

There may be other spiritual activities that I will now mention and can be added into the above examples too. For example, someone may do yoga but doesn’t do meditation.

  • Walking in Nature or Gardening
  • Being aware of the present moment
  • Jap or Kirtan – singing/listening to devotional songs or reciting mantras
  • Yoga
  • Contemplation
  • Volunteer work
  • Retreats – weekend, 3 days or 5 days
  • Writing in a journal like a gratitude journal

Consideration

As I mentioned earlier and I want to emphasize that one’s sincerity, honesty and humility is important when it comes to attaining anything spiritual. Our behavior is transformed and if we are still harboring hatred, if we lack compassion or empathy, I doubt we have attained much spiritually regardless of the hours we put into spiritual practice.

Some may even claim that they have attained the highest in spirituality because of some sacred knowledge and even if that is the case, I do believe there is still a refining process. Plus this individual would always be interested in spiritual activities so this would still apply to them. Spirituality is interwoven into their life.

Death needs to be considered here and our awareness of it. If I know that I can die at any time, then would my outlook change? Would my spiritual practice be more intense hence an increase in hours each day? Our understanding of death has a correlation with the hours we put in. If we believe we can do it in future lives, then we should consider it could take us an eternity. If we believe in one life alone, then how many years can be guaranteed that we will live to? If there is no guarantee, then all I have this moment now – so what do I want to be in awareness of during this moment?

Comments

Let me know your comments on this post below. What spiritual activities do you do that I may have missed? If you want, you can let me know how long it will take you to reach the 10,000 hours.

Can Wisdom Be Bite-Sized?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

We love to have information on the go. We want to be able to understand something as quickly as possible. We prefer to listen to a clip of a podcast or grab a summary of a book. We do all these things so we can somehow remain knowledgeable and aware of current events and most of all, remain relatable.

Who wants to go out with friends or spend time with family and not be able to talk about the latest viral clip out there or the book that transports us to another world? Or discuss that self-help book that taught us one good thing and has dramatically changed our lives. The new diet that has worked when all other diets didn’t work. That new Netflix show that we binged upon. We all want to remain relevant and when technologies and social platforms are taking us in all different directions, there is only so much time, therefore only so much capacity to learn about everything.

The same is with spirituality these days. It desires to be relevant. You can see popular gurus and wannabe gurus (mainly the self-help types) give small clips of 5-10 minutes to capture their new and existing audience and gain new adherents. They also want to gain popularity on social media platforms with reels and TikTok videos, going viral is the next best thing for the Gurus, who wish to put thousands of pages of ancient wisdom in 30 seconds clips. They most likely have a media team that works on this content and who knows how many bots may have been bought to get these gurus featured on Facebook or Instagram. Some disciples share the clips of their gurus and make them viral too.  Some gurus may be completely innocent of the fact that they are now featured on a social media platform. The impossibility of sharing bite-size wisdom somehow becomes possible but with massive disadvantages.

Spirituality requires time. There is nothing instant. The only way to climb up a mountain is to use your hands and feet. If you take a helicopter and go from the bottom of a mountain to the peak, you cannot claim to have climbed the mountain. Sure, it is a shortcut and although the destination is the same, the journey is completely different. The person who climbed up the mountain can talk about the terrain, the view from each side of the mountain, the wildlife, the vegetation and the difficulties faced during different weather conditions. They can talk about the whole journey with confidence and interesting tales. But someone who uses a helicopter misses out on all of these sensory delights. Similarly, the clips we hear of these gurus is never enough. We need to engage with their longer talks or their books to understand their philosophy. We need to know about their experiences and so in turn, we are inspired to apply the teachings.

But like the person who took the helicopter, we listen to the gurus and project their achievements as our own. This is only noticed when we carefully observe our own thoughts, intentions, emotions etc. Better to look within and see what has transformed than sing the glory of a god or someone that we do not know. Just because you caught that Guru featured on Instagram that doesn’t mean you know what it is like to be a disciple of theirs. Bite-size wisdom will not work because it doesn’t provide true clarity. It doesn’t tell us of the whole journey. We get a sneak peak and that is all. But who is satisfied with a movie trailer? We rather watch the whole movie. Same with spirituality, it is better to learn and follow any methods than to just glorify a path that we haven’t taken a step in.

I understand that I may sound ‘traditional’ but I have learned more from the larger books that I have read and the longer talks that I have listened to or watched. I love Swami Sarvapriyananda of Vedanta NY’s talks. His explanation of the Upanishads and other texts probably span over several days and I have deepened my understanding of Reality! I love Yog Vasistha – a thousand page book on Hindu philosophy. Or the 500 page Vigyan Bhairav Tantra by Osho. I remind myself of the thousands of pages of poetic wisdom in the Guru Granth Sahib and the 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita. I am not saying smaller books and talks haven’t helped, they have. The beauty of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is both delicate and strong. The high wisdom of Tao Te Ching is on many levels unmatched. I am not saying that the length of a talk or book measures how much wisdom is contained. I am talking about the thinking, the silent pauses you take when you pause a talk, or put down the book and you begin to ponder as you grab new insights, as you infer your own experiences to the words just heard or read. A verse from the Tao Te Ching cannot be read mechanically, it has to be properly understood. It may take less than a minute to read but it may need a good 30 minutes to understand and comprehend. Trust me, 30 minutes isn’t enough but you get my point.

Wisdom may come in bite-size pieces but eventually, we need to understand things deeper. We need to transcend the potentiality of something become superficial. Once something is superficial, it can become rigid as a limiting belief and we open the gate for ego to enter and expand. Therefore, if we must utilize this bite-size wisdom phenomena that has become mainstream today, we must not lose the art of contemplation so that this wisdom can penetrate us and complete us.

Time is of the Essence

Over the years, I perfected the art of listening and recently, I have watched it decline. Watching all my efforts go down the drain was extremely painful and this can be applied to my ability to focus and concentrate too. Although, we look to grow and evolve but this does come at a cost and this is what I like to discuss with you today.

Conversations

If you had put me in a room and my only thing was to listen, I used to interrupt someone until they had finished what they had to day. In recent years, I have seen this slowly diminish and now I interrupt when it is convenient for me.

Whenever I would be conversing, you would always find me mindfully listening and I found great joy in it. Listening is an easy way to feel the sense of the observer within you. So it was always a way to continue my meditation throughout the day and it provided fulfillment in my life.

I noticed that whenever I would interrupt or share my views straight away without thinking, I would leave a place feeling more tired and exhausted. Also, I would feel that the person I was talking to will probably feel that this wasn’t a worthwhile conversation.

I am always open to answering a question. So if asked anything, I would take the time to respond. However, in recent times, it was like I must share something otherwise, I would be irrelevant or people will go further into misinformation and maintain misguided views. Letting people be as they are has been a challenge.

A true conversation lies in the listening. It is empowered with the attention of listening. It is the silent observer that catches the nuances of what somebody says. If I am thinking about what to say in the next second, how can I be truly listening? So the art of a real conversation is when we take turns to converse our views and opinions. We take in what each person is saying and truly analyze it, not just from our perspective but mainly for the perspective of the speaker.

Books, Talks or Podcasts – the duration or pages matter

I listen to spiritual talks or podcasts regularly and I am an avid reader. Before, if you put a one hour or three hour talk for me, I could sit and listen and give my attention to it. Yes, my mind would drift now and then but I was able to concentrate for the most part. If you gave me a 1000 page book, I would be able to consume that. I love the longer talks and larger books because they give the necessary background that enhances the topic or concept discussed. The context that is added because time isn’t an issue allows the ideas/concepts to be clear and elucidated.

However, with the advent of social media, our concentration spans seem to be lessening day by day. We watch 10-30 second videos and call ourselves educated and informed. Before, it took us a decent 250-500 page book to be informed or a series of 2 hour talks but today, we don’t consider that necessary. When I listen to a 5 minute talk, I do not feel fulfilled at all or feel I have gained anything special. As easy as it was for my mind to concentrate on those 5 minutes, it was just as easy to let go of whatever I have learned in those 5 minutes. Without full context, we probably will not allow anything to become experiential.

I have recently felt that we must be very clear with our language, we should minimize our words only to maximize the understanding. But it doesn’t matter how long we talk for, or how much we write, it is about the clarity of the message. For anything to be clear, we need to explain it fully. For anyone to understand our views, we need to literally spell out how we got there.

Research – What is that again?

Today, our research is ‘Google it’ instead of let’s read or learn about it from experts in that field. For me, research is about getting a few or more books to understand any topic completely.

Nowadays, we read a few articles and suddenly, we find people on social media pretending to be experts on the matter. You will probably find a few social media influencers who will talk about mental health but have minimal understanding about what it is or have not gone through any mental health issues. Those people that have studied it, got degrees and are well-versed on the whole topic, they are not even consulted when these influencers share their ‘tidbits of wisdom’. This can be applied to any subject today. It is just a matter of reading a few articles and now we are completely enlightened on that subject. Who has time today to read a few books? Unfortunately, we think that these articles alone are enough to feel informed but this is not enhancing humanity at all, in fact, it is to the detriment to the community around us. I noticed this within myself and that is when I realized something is not right. We should be informed through a variety of mediums, like books, articles, research studies, and talk. Information overload is better than information minimization. Ignorance is certainly not bliss.

What to do next?

I have now started to read more books and listen to longer talks. I am constantly looking at how to increase my concentration, not just the longevity but also the intensity too. This requires work and effort. When someone is speaking, I need to learn to keep quiet and listen without interruption from my side. When I am reading a book, I must read a few pages without looking at my phone to increase my concentration and focus. Listening to a long talk on any subject, and reflecting on what is being said completely. Listen to panel discussions and the variety of opinions and thoughts.

A lot must be done to reclaim our focus and concentration, to become informed of a subject and most of all to have real conversations. Frankly, I must take the time to efficiently know something. In fact, efficiency is not about lessening the time to know something, efficiency is about increasing the quality of information and discussing valuable insights with others when necessary.

5 ways a Spiritual Master helps you on the Spiritual Journey

I want to focus on the Spiritual Master and 5 ways that it has helped me on my journey, so it is incredibly personal. Before I go into this, let me discuss with you briefly the difference between a Figurehead and a Spiritual Master. The Spiritual Master has a personal relationship with your spirituality and the focus is purely on spiritual growth. The relationship has more compassion, forgiveness and love. The Figurehead is someone that carries on a tradition and is impersonal for the most part and has the danger of operating with fear and complete obedience. An image is created for them and the Figurehead follows this image accordingly. There are cases that some are a mix of a Figurehead and a Spiritual Master and each case is hugely dependent on the disciple or the follower.

My last blog post dealt with how we need to be self-reliant in our relationship with spirituality, if we are to be serious seekers. I mentioned that having a fixed framework that is a ‘one size fits all’ like a philosophy/ideology that all must follow and following a Figurehead was important for a casual spiritual aspirant. It offers structure, some practices that are not strenuous, and it will at least give us all the tools to make us decent human beings.

Let’s now look into the 5 ways a Spiritual Master helped me on my journey.

Individual Path

My Spiritual Master understood my approach with spirituality and responded according to it. My Spiritual Master guided me to carve my own way to understand the deeper realities. I was to pick myself up when I fall and remain grounded whenever my ego could soar to unnecessary places. My Spiritual Master was very quick in understanding and accepting that I didn’t belong to any organization/movement and that my Spiritual Master’s guidance is everything and would remain so. I would ask questions on what I was confused about and my Spiritual Master would give me answers sometimes. Occasionally, I would follow up with more questions. Then there were times that silence was the answer to my questions. Normally, a day or two later I would find the answer I was looking for. It was always within me.

Discovering the Inner Guru

My Spiritual Master through silence and the knowledge of the Self showed me the Inner Guru that was always residing within. I was to befriend this as much as possible. I was to ask this Inner Guru my questions, share my doubts and worries, and even my joys and feelings of bliss. Whenever I sat down to meditate, I was to focus on the image of the Inner Guru, who would then take me to the Formless, Impersonal, Ultimate Reality. So when I met my Spiritual Master, I could give a highlighted report about the progress of my spirituality and whatever answers I couldn’t find, I would ask those questions and would receive the answers accordingly. The more I connected with the Inner Guru, my Spiritual Master gave me a lot of love and we grew closer.

Return to the Source

The focus was always on returning back to the Source, the Origin, and the Formless Reality that is always there in the background. This doesn’t and has never disappeared. It is always there and I just had to focus as much as I could on it. My Spiritual Master would tell me to stick to the Formless, and don’t look anywhere else. If I would listen or read something, I could relate it back to the Formless. Explore and find the connection and then bathe in that Awareness. The more awareness I had, the better. This became the base of my meditation. I was blessed with some amazing experiences and this was because of simply following my Spiritual Master’s guidance.

Synthesis of Spiritualism and Materialism

My Spiritual Master laid great importance on connecting the spiritual and material. I wasn’t to live dual lives – one that is spiritual and then one of the world. I was to find the Spiritual in the Material World. I was guided that the Spiritual is very much present and that I had to lift the veil in order to see it. I did find that the more I focused on my spirituality, then I never had to worry about my job or anything like that. Somehow, life always remains smooth. I do my work to earn a living and I focus on my spirituality. Both have a beautiful relationship with each other because I was told to see the oneness between them.

Let the Heart Speak

This is something that is very dear to me. My Spiritual Master guided me to only share my best and that was through my heart. If I was to speak to a gathering, I was not to be prepared. It is funny but whenever I prepared something, I would forget it and deliver something totally different. I always enter a different state of being – very similar, if not the same, as when I meditate. I lose sense of my individual self, finding Awareness through the Heart and then I speak. For some reason, I can never remember anything I say verbatim. I can never remember lines of spiritual texts. I just seem to understand the essence.

Concluding Thoughts

The reality is that my Spiritual Master has allowed me to really develop my own spiritual path, according to my understanding. Being agnostic, this is very helpful for me. Even though, my Spiritual Master talks about God, I understood what was meant by that word. Although, I don’t like using the word but I know my Spiritual Master’s discourses reach a wider audience. But in private conversations, the word ‘god’ was seldom used. Only Formless, or Awareness was used with me.

The Spiritual Master understands you and works with you to excel in spirituality. The focus is on your own improvement alone as a spiritual disciple. One of the best moments during a conversation with the Spiritual Master is whenever you come to a realization or you discover a beautiful insight and you share it with the Spiritual Master. They will listen to it as if it was completely new to them as well and you will see wonder glowing through their eyes. In that, they teach true listening along with keeping an attitude of wonder. The Spiritual Master is the truest advocate of mystical experiences and their aim is to create a Mystic.

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