Sometimes the state of the world, the country, the state, the individual etc seems to be disturbing and alarming. Where there are talks about tolerance, acceptance, love, compassion, forgiveness but really it’s just surface level. How do we commit to real change, real transformation? How do I learn to be truly tolerant? How do I truly imbibe compassion? How can I truly forgive someone, or more so the situation?
This type of transformation only comes when we understand who we are and what we are. If I believe I am this body which includes the mind, then whatever my body dictates that will be the outcome. Is there a way out of this? Is there a way beyond this? The Sages have talked about being the Atman, the Self or the soul and how do we come to this realization? Again, not simply knowing it as knowledge but truly feeling that one is the Atman? This comes by being aware, moment to moment, as much as possible that one is the Atman, the Self. As we become established in each moment of awareness, the more we find that tolerance, acceptance, love, compassion, forgiveness does not need to be cultivated. They are always within us. We just have to discover it.
How can we discover this? By being honest to ourselves, being honest to others, being honest in every relationship we have. When we let go the facade of being something, which is difficult for many. Unfortunately, social media has fooled us into thinking that our lives is what is on the screen infront of us. We think that how we show others on social media, this is what we are. But this is far from the Truth, I noticed this with myself hence I knew I had to change. When really life is how I relate to everyone around me. If I ignore them then I am in ignorance. If I honor them, respect them because I am the Atman and they are the Atman, the relationship is honorable, it is respectful, it is full of integrity.
A space, infinitesimal space, a gap in the middle,
The mind still, caught in the middle ground,
Observing, observer and observation suspended,
That, with no definition, makes It's presence felt,
It isn't exclusive, It is available to everybody,
Try to monopolize It, watch It disappear in an instant,
It doesn't seek to convince, It doesn't like language,
It prefers if silence communicates, silence It is.
Yesterday, I discussed whether instant enlightenment was a myth or not. Summing it up in a couple of sentences, it is a gradual process that needs time, discipline and effort. Nobody gets enlightenment just because they recognize the Truth, it is much more than that. It simply is when you become the Truth.
There are two other factors that I thought about when it comes to the topic of instant enlightenment that people from the neo-advaita scene or neo-bhakti movements can counter argue with me. That is the Guru and/or Grace. These two factors may have a great impact on a disciple. So let’s explore this together and see if Guru or Grace causes instant enlightenment.
The Spiritual Guru
What is the role of the Guru? What is the impact of having a Guru? Is it enough to be without a Guru? Does our whole life need to center around the Guru? This is dependent on the seeker and their experiences. Here, I will discuss my views and responses to those questions.
The role of the Guru is to simply show the way, give the pointing, pass on the mantra or give the initiation. They can guide but they can’t walk the path for you. You have to respond to your own calling. The role of the Guru is also very personal. We need guidance in our day to day life because we live in the world, we have a family, we have a job or business, we go to school or college. We may need help on how to interpret the teachings according to our living experiences or need guidance during a difficult time. It is the Guru that will offer guidance but again, their role is to give you the path to enlightenment, whether it is instant or not, is dependent solely on the seeker and their readiness.
The impact of the Guru depends on how much they are invested in your spirituality. If it is simply listening to sermons or reading their books, there is only a certain impact that the Guru will have. If like I mentioned before, the Guru guides you during difficult times, the Guru is there for you, the Guru supports you very personally, the impact will be strong. Whether it is a positive or negative impact again is dependent on the seeker. From the genuine Gurus that I know, they seek to take you away from conflict. They will never break a family, gather money for their personal gain or control your lifestyle. They offer a path to you but don’t demand you to walk the path. They are both involved but also take a step back at the same time. They offer the seeker the freedom to act.
Can we advance in spirituality without a Guru? I don’t know but I have hugely benefited from having a Guru that was there for me and who guided me personally with my spiritual journey. If I was feeling helpless with a spiritual conundrum, it helped me immensely to have my Guru’s guidance. Sometimes, it was knowing that I had someone to fall back on during difficult times that gave me the strength to advance spiritually. I know some friends who do not have a physical guru but to be honest, they may follow the teachings of someone that lived in the previous century or thousands of years ago. We all have someone that inspires us, so their guidance is great. The more personal, the better.
So does our life need to center around the Guru? No, it doesn’t have to center on the physical being of the Guru. Not at all. We are to enjoy the presence of the Guru whenever the opportunity arises. We are to take advantage of this for sure. However, there needs to a life centered on the Teachings. My Guru would give the biggest smile if I told Him about how a particular teaching helped me. This gave Him more joy than simply following Him wherever He went or even praising Him. It is important to have the presence of the Guru but priority is with the Teaching.
I know some friends, who are devotees to different gurus and have become disenchanted. They followed someone and then found that their Guru did not live up to their title, they came across someone who was greedy, angry, or extremely controlling and authoritarian. However, those very friends tell me about how the teachings of the Guru helped them but they simply couldn’t follow that guru again with the same devotion to the physical form.
Concluding all these questions, instant enlightenment may not be given by having a Guru or being in the presence of the Guru. It is following the Teachings that bring a gradual growth that can lead to enlightenment. Sometimes, it is the silence of the Guru that helps and we find the answers to everything within because that Presence guides us to find our own inner Guru. The Teaching has to be Supreme and maybe when we consider this, enlightenment can be instant as an Inner Guru will always be there for us.
Grace is help by some divine intervention. Out of nowhere, we find that somehow our spiritual growth has increased tenfold and we can’t explain how. This genuinely happens and I have found that in my own life and experiences that some things are unexplainable when it comes to excelling spiritually.
Grace is like being dependent on chance. If you receive it then you are lucky. If you don’t then you are not so lucky. If you are a good devotee then you may get grace or you may not. There is no definitive way to attain Grace and that is the biggest argument against it in causing instant enlightenment.
However, Grace can be interpreted as the culmination of practice. The more sincere we are, the more honest, the more we apply the teachings, the more we feel that element of Grace assisting us.
I do believe Grace helps but it isn’t something that provides instant enlightenment. Grace does give you awakenings or satoris but that is it. That internal movement towards enlightenment can be called grace but again, momentum is only achieved through practice.
Practice is the answer
As we have briefly discussed the role of the Guru and the role of Grace, as much as they may be beneficial, I am doubtful that they cause instant enlightenment. I doubt the first look of the Guru will cause instant enlightenment. I doubt that Grace appears and you are suddenly enlightened.
Guru’s presence and the concept of Grace are necessary to help progress in your spiritual journey. Sometimes accepting experiences as an element of Grace helps to keep the momentum going without getting into the details. Sometimes, it is easier to explain such experiences as Grace and it definitely helps us to avoid spiritual pride and grounds us to humility. Which is beneficial for effective spiritual practice.
Also, there is nothing bigger than the Guru’s Teachings. Every scripture is the Guru and every physical presence that helps you spiritually is the Guru. We are to commit to the Teachings, yet enjoy the physical presence of the Guru. Infact, the Guru’s Teachings awakens the Guru within you. This is available to everyone and it is something great sages like Ramana Maharshi attest to.
The more we practice the Teachings, the more clarity we get. The better clarity, the more we are open to enlightenment happening in a more gradual, consistent and grounding way.
Growing up, I feel that I was always told that we can realize God in an instant, and that realizing God is the same as being enlightened or self-realized. Although, I believed this when I was growing up, when I did receive the Knowledge that was meant to give me this instant enlightenment, I didn’t feel enlightened or god-realized. The Knowledge given was potent enough for me to feel the Energy that it was pointing to but my mind didn’t change, I didn’t have any experience like feeling oneness with everything.
I say all this because my Guru has never claimed to me that I would get instant enlightenment, He always told me to continue working hard on my spirituality. To be honest, I don’t know how I got the idea that I would get instant enlightenment/liberation, my memory doesn’t serve me well on this point. It did get me disenchanted with spirituality around 10 years ago though and that wasn’t a nice experience for me. I was also told that I will be liberated but to be honest, I was still scared of heights and spiders at that time, so obviously I didn’t feel so liberated! How can you feel free when basic fears still roam the mind?
I used to hear people talk about how they were instantly enlightened or could see god everywhere but it didn’t tally up with their actions so it took me down a path of confusion.
It was only years later that I started to read wider spiritual literature that I started to understand that enlightenment was very unlikely to be instant, it was always a steady process. Not everyone simply got it straight away without the mind being fertile enough to receive the Knowledge, therefore once received, it was the only thing needed. Most of us, need to spend and focus time on building a spiritual practice that is serious enough for enlightenment.
Today, the neo-advaita scene, the neo-bhakti scene, all make promises of instant enlightenment. However, they are making a huge mistake. It is not instant enlightenment but one is able to recognize the immediacy of the Truth, once the Knowledge or Pointing is received. One is able to understand the Taste but that is it. It is like when you go to an Ice-Cream shop and taste different samples. Once you taste a flavor, you immediately have the taste, you recognize it. You may order 1 scoop, but that one scoop will finish. Therefore, this ‘enlightenment’ really is short-lived and is more likely to be an awakening or a satori. What I consider enlightenment is a perpetual state – it is continuously there as the ego has dissolved away.
So what if like me, you were given the promise of instant enlightenment, or you read books, watched YouTube videos, listened to podcasts, went to satsangs, meet-ups or retreats and were told you would be liberated instantly because the Truth is always now, the Truth is always here, only to find out that really there has been little progress and you have fooled yourself into thinking you are liberated, you are enlightened? Well, don’t worry, there is hope, even for the likes of me and you!
There have been great Gurus of the past and present that understand that Truth can be realized, right here, right now but it requires some effort in the beginning. Most of the people that seem to get it instantly tend to have already done great practice in the past. Therefore, it isn’t as instant as it is perceived.
So let’s look into what needs to be done when we receive that special Mantra, Knowledge/Gyana, Pointing or Initiation?
Contemplate on that Mantra, Knowledge etc.
Take time out to think about whatever you received. Take time out to contemplate on this wisdom. What impact does it have on your mind? What does it do to your surroundings? Does it do nothing and still feel potent? Contemplate on it, focus on it, dwell on it, don’t let go of it. The more you live with it, the more it helps you.
Meditation is a useful practice and this meditation that I am talking about is specific. Just watch your mind and keep watching. Travel with each thought and emotion and see where it leads to. Find where the thought or emotion appear from. How does it get formed? How does it dissolve? This isn’t easy as it sounds and is an arduous process and doesn’t offer it’s rewards easily.
Reading the Scriptures, I am mainly someone that has studied texts from Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. This is important. When we read, we are meant to contemplate on the words. Look at what they really mean to us, forget whether the interpretation is right or wrong because investigation or inquiry into it will help us get to the correct meaning. However, when we read more about the Truth, we find ways on how to incorporate it because Sages who got enlightenment, liberated, they recorded their guidance there. This is the satsang that is most important.
Prioritize and spend time for your spiritual practice
You have to spend more than 2 or 3 hours a week on it, if you want to get any results. Spirituality isn’t a part-time affair or entertainment for a couple of hours. It is serious, more serious than one can imagine but there is fun in there too. If you do chanting, or listen to mantras with music, it creates an ecstatic feeling so it can be joyful, you may end up dancing, that is fine. However, your discipline to spend time on your spirituality must be serious. It has to be as focused as possible and must be everything you want. The thing is, we don’t have to let go of our material possessions or anything like that, or let go of any desires. Let your spiritual practice define what needs to be done. What matters most is what matters to you the most.
Be honest in your reflections
Be honest about where you are spiritually, record it in a journal or start a blog like me. Inquire into your spiritual journey with great honesty everyday and don’t be disheartened if it hasn’t moved forward for a while. The more honest you are, the more humble you will become. All this is a natural process. There is no need for the holier than thou attitude and if you read the scriptures, you recognize that none of those sages ever had that attitude. They were humble and honest and wanted future generations to continue with that legacy.
These are a few things I wanted to mention that will guide us into a more gradual journey towards enlightenment. It may take a long time, it may end up happening instantly, who knows but the fact is we need to be humble, honest and ego free. If we are to become true spiritual beings, we have to imbibe all the virtues required. We cannot become bigots after enlightenment, it isn’t possible. If one can fall from grace like that, I question if one ever was in grace or was enlightened.
This may take years, but I am ready for this type of journey. I am ready to take the time to be more aware and be brutally honest about it. Yes, the Truth is here and now, and I feel it but I haven’t become it yet. There isn’t a union or oneness with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from my side. It may be united with me but doesn’t mean I understand that it is always united with me.
I hope what I said makes sense and please do reach out to me if you have any questions or comments. This is a discussion, a dialogue to get to a place where we want to become enlightened beings. We can discover the answers together with an open-mind.
2020 has had it’s fair share of challenges and gifts too. Nobody could guess that a pandemic like Covid-19 would bring the world to its knees and it seems that most of the world hasn’t been able to stand up again.
My mum from the UK was able to visit us in the US and spend time with us. It was before the pandemic and she returned to the UK before the world came to a standstill. It was wonderful for her to see my life here and it was nice to have her blessings! I just wished I worked from home more at the time.
This year has allowed me to move to a new position at my workplace which I am grateful for. My new team is great and I appreciate them a lot. Earlier in the year, I was facing redundancy due to a restructure but my new manager saw my skills and brought me onto his team.
Working from home has allowed me to become healthier, take care of what I eat and has also given me the time to meditate more, read more, exercise more and most of all, spend time with my wife Manisha ji more. We watched films, TV shows together and read (different) books together. We cooked together and I loved those moments, I felt like I was in the first year of my marriage again. It has also allowed us to spend time with our niece, Ekta, who is an absolute joy to be around. Spending time with the extended family has definitely been important for us.
But a bigger shoutout to my wife, who is on the frontline as a nurse. Not only is she working in a critical time, she is also studying for her Master’s and the way she has balanced this is truly remarkable and inspirational. She is an absolute gem and looks after me a lot. She also allows me to be lazy at times, which I definitely appreciate. Most of all, I love making coffee for you in the morning because I see the joy that it brings to you!
I have gained new friendships in this time and strengthened existing friendships . Two new friendships have been one where spiritual concepts are looked into deeply and we try to discover ways to further our spiritual journey. These conversations have been beneficial for me. In fact, overall my friendships have got stronger as we focus on spending time with each other. Before the pandemic, we could be together but our phones would be in the way. This time, I noticed we talked more, we interacted more, it was more personal. I really value all of my friends.
Let me thank you all for reading my blog, reading my work on Instagram, I truly appreciate your support and may this community grow stronger.
But 2020 has had it’s challenges and one of the challenges for me was when my youngest brother in the UK was in the ICU with a rare lung infection, he was on the brink of death. Being here in America, it was tough to not be there with my parents, my brothers to deal with this. Positive thinking did help but I was also ready to face the reality if my brother didn’t make it. I am thankful for the healthcare workers, the doctors that put everything into saving him. Thankfully, my youngest brother is at home and we have weekly catch up calls, which never happened before. So even though this was a challenging time with ups and downs, we made sure that we got the best of the situation. I am so thankful that my youngest brother recovered and is alive and well.
There have been deaths this year, some people I knew personally, some whom I didn’t know but my friends or family had lost someone and I felt the pain of loss that they were going through. This was definitely a difficult year in processing death. Losing people is hard enough but in the midst of a pandemic, we have had to evolve our ways in saying goodbye. I take this moment to pray that anybody that has lost somebody in their family, in their friend circle, may they be given strength and acceptance. I also encourage them to seek professional help if needed and to let go of any taboo that surrounds it.
So as we go into 2021, let’s start it on a powerful note. I started this morning with listening to the Gayatri Mantra and spent some time contemplating on this.
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat
Physical, mental and Spiritual existence,
That, which is Radiant Light and most Beautiful,
I meditate upon That which is Illuminating and Divine,
Enlighten our intellect.
To understand the above, let’s dwell on it. Aum symbolizes the Ultimate Impersonal Reality – Brahman. So in the beginning of the mantra, this is what we focus on. Then we acknowledge that Brahman has It’s existence on the physical, mental and spiritual dimension. As we contemplate on It’s Fullness, we see That as the most Beautiful and Radiant Light. It is referred to as Tat (That) so it remains Impersonal, it remains Formless. By acknowledging It’s radiance and beauty, we lead ourselves to meditating on That, which illuminates everywhere and is divine in nature. We then ask Brahman to enlighten our intellect so that we can embrace wisdom. It is wisdom that enlightens our intellect and that wisdom itself is Brahman.
Last night, I finished reading J. Krishnamurti: A Biography by Pupul Jayakar and I really enjoyed the great thoughts of this phenomenal mystic. I was introduced to Jiddu Krishnamurti (JK) through Osho, who deeply respected JK and I feel Osho propagated JK’s teachings in his own wonderful way too. However, it was my late Pritam Uncle ji who had asked me to read this book.
Pritam Uncle ji was an enigma to be around. I met him for the first time in 2014 and I will never forget his eyes that seemed to look right into my soul and a smile that emanated warmth. Whenever he spoke, he would speak of total awareness and how to really know our true self. He told me that only I could get there, no one else can help. He gave me three books and two of them were of JKs. One is the biography and the other one is the First and Last Freedom – which I am currently reading.
I wondered why my Uncle would ask me to read JK as I felt I couldn’t intellectually understand him back in 2014. But today, the teachings seem to make sense, I am able to follow them and even meditate upon them.
I strongly recommend the book if you want to know about the philosophy of J Krishnamurti and the life that he lived. From advising Prime Ministers, to discussing philosophy with scientists and most of all, he inspired many people like Bruce Lee, Aldous Huxley, Satish Kumar and I know Alan Watts loved him.
I want to share a few learnings from the book that really stood out to me and I hope you will like them too:
For the mind to be creative, there must be stillness. A deep stillness that can only come into being when you have faced your loneliness.
Only a total, non-fragmented perception can negate the observer and the observed. The seeing of “what is,” is the transformation of “what is.”
The mind which is the vessel of movement, when the movement has no form, no ‘me’, no vision, no image, it is completely quiet. In it there is no memory. Then the brain cells undergo a change.
In silence what is there to experience? Silence can only experience silence. Can silence leave an imprint?
There is an experience of silence and the mind remembers the feel, the perfume, the essence.
“If you knew that you were about to die, what would you do? Can you live one hour completely—live one day—one hour—as if you were going to die the next hour? But if you die so that you are living fully in this hour, there is enormous vitality, tremendous attention to everything. You look at the spring of life, the tear, you feel the earth, the quality of the tree. You feel the love that has no continuity and no object. Then you will find in that attention that the ‘me’ is not. It is then that the mind, being empty, can renew itself.”
‘Nothing’ contains the whole universe. Not my petty little fears, anxieties, sorrows. After all, Pupul ji, ‘nothing’ means the entire world of compassion. Compassion is ‘nothing’, and therefore that ‘nothingness’ is supreme intelligence.
We offer a hundred commentaries but the actual fact is, we are ‘nothing’ except a lot of words. Can one grasp that the zero contains all the numbers? So in ‘nothing,’ all the world exists.
We have all been trained to be highly intellectual. A poor man who does not seem bright, he will understand a simple statement.
The above are a few words which I wanted to share and there are many many more. The greatest thing about Krishnamurti was that he never wanted to be a guru and never acted like one. It was in the book that whenever someone would touch his feet, he would touch theirs too. I found this beautiful and humble of him.
Another teaching of his that really captured my attention was that he talked about how memory doesn’t allow us to be totally aware of ‘now’, of the present moment, of ‘what is’. We cling to a past, to an image that may not have been there at the time. We could have manipulated it even if it was a pious memory. Krishnamurti guided that in order to have a clear mind, it was important to let go of memory. I find this to be true when I think deeply about it. I hold onto the memories of people I have worshipped but they are no longer here. I cannot physically perceive them and if I do, it is through a photo. Therefore, the journey is one that I have to take alone. I can respect the past but I cannot live in the past.
It is a wonderful book and one that I definitely recommend.
Can positivity ever be considered negative? Simple answer is YES! I know, wait a second, let’s understand what I have just answered. Am I saying that it can be negative to be positive? Yes, I am exactly saying that. What are my reasons? Well, let’s dwell on this.
Have you ever faced a time in your life where you feel sad? Or you are going through a traumatic time with an illness? Or you feel trapped in a relationship? Just had a break up? Lost your job and been out of work for months? Got bad grades? You decide to tell somebody about it because you want to be listened to, you want to be heard. What is the response? You may have had the following responses:
There must be something good in your life?
Don’t worry, you will get better, be positive.
Be positive, at least you are in a relationship.
Look, there are more guys/girls out there.
Don’t worry, you will find a new job, stay positive and keep applying.
You can ace the next exam, be positive and keep working hard.
I know that I have said the above to people in the past and it is only recently, that I realized that maybe I am not being helpful to people when I say such things. Okay, I may not be in the ‘stay positive’ or ‘positive vibes only’ crowd but I am guilty for sometimes saying something uplifting when someone only wants to talk. They just want me to listen to them deeply, without judging, without thinking about what to say, just being absolutely present with them.
The most powerful responses I have ever received have come from people who stay quiet for a good, few minutes and then they offer some advice or sometimes they just give me a hug. Sometimes, that is all we need or someone else needs. We don’t have to coat our every advice with positive statements or affirmations, we can sometimes just state things as they are and deal with it as it is. We can advice according to the situation and work out together how best to deal with the situation.
The toxic positivity crowd has grown with social media. We now have social media personalities who spew out how positivity is everything and if you aren’t having a good life, it is because you are not positive enough. They talk big but life shows that it delivers flatly. Trust me, I have read my fair share of self-help books, followed self-help gurus on social media, followed their advice somewhat and realized I haven’t been helped at all. Everything I am doing is based on my circumstances and my analysis of my circumstances. I take time to look at what I am going through and meditate on what the best response is. Yes, it may not be the approach of anyone that wants fast results but sometimes, being slow and steady helps us to address the problem or issue fully. It is best if you allow that feeling of positivity to arise within you naturally.
Sometimes, we are told that we aren’t grateful enough and that gratitude is the best attitude. But if I am feeling stressed, I am not going to be grateful for anything else. Am I to be grateful for my stress? How does that make any sense? So this is what it goes back to, we have to face what we are dealing with and really look into it. See the root of it and observe the root of it. We need to spend time on what disturbs us, and then we can direct our minds to find ways out of it. We need to allow each thought, positive or negative, to flower completely, to travel with the thought so it can express itself completely. If we end up cutting that thought short, we may be repressing emotions or thoughts that may lead to a greater sadness or depression later on.
Tomorrow, you may listen to some positive thought and it helps you tremendously. And a few days later, you face a situation and to overcome it, you use that same positive thought and it doesn’t help anymore. Don’t ever put yourself down if that positive thought isn’t working. Whatever you are going through has become bigger than that positive thought. Life gives us situations so that we evolve, so we see the deeper truths of life and if we mask it with positivity, it is still a veil. Therefore, find new ways of dealing with issues or problems, most of all, try to understand the problem.
What I want to emphasize is that if you feel sad, I am here to look at the sadness with you. If you are happy, I am here to look at the happiness with you. Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going through, I am here to go through it with you.
I believe we should look at our thoughts and our emotions as they are and deal with them as they are. Yes, some thoughts will be painful to look into but sometimes it is that looking, that observing that helps us to drop that thought. This is what has helped me in my life.
Motivational quotes and sayings may be nice to look at and nice to hear but do they transform us? Do they really make you get up to conquer the world? How about we aim more locally and look to conquer our minds. This can only be done, if we spend time and go through the process with our undivided attention.
The highest wisdom known is to understand the Ultimate Reality. This Ultimate Reality has no form, no shape, no color, no dimension, no sound, no space, no time, indivisible etc. The biggest question is whether we can call this God, especially when a personal god is more or less invoked in the traditional aspects of religion?
The personal god is not just in traditional religions but has found its place in spiritual circles. You may call it the universe, it is still the personal god. To this god, we place our faith, our devotion as long as whatever we want is received. If it isn’t then there are two options. One is that we lose faith and become atheist sand settle in the belief that there is no god, or second is that we say we don’t have enough faith and that is why god didn’t give it to us. In fact, we make god into a transactional deity where He, the patriarch dishes out rewards and punishments. Why do some get more or less? Well, build up your faith is always the clarion call!
So back to the original question, can we call this Ultimate Reality – God? I don’t think we can. It is interesting that in Hinduism, they see the need for the personal God so this is called Ishwar or Saguna Brahman. The Hindu mystics were smart enough to understand that the majority will not have time to contemplate, to wonder, to pay attention and to focus on what Reality is but in fact, they are drawn to their primal fears and desires – therefore, Ishwar or Saguna Brahman deliver this. But remember – Sat Chit Ananda (Truth Consciousness Bliss) – cannot be experienced here! The Truth or the Reality experienced is only a part – it isn’t the whole. Saguna Brahman is also subject to destruction as it is part of the Universe. Consciousness is experienced by all, but here we are talking about Pure Indivisible Consciousness as the Ultimate Reality. This is only partly experienced. Therefore, bliss cannot be attained with the completeness of Truth and Consciousness. We can experience happiness, extreme happiness but not bliss.
So the ones who contemplate on this Ultimate Reality, who wonder about it, who want to see it as it is, without our interpretation, without our thoughts, without our emotions, we find that they experience Sat Chit Ananda. This Ultimate Reality is referred to as Nirguna Brahman and this means Brahman without attributes. This is the Purest of the Pure. Right now, I can feel It’s presence that seems infused into everything, yet distinct from everything too. I can feel that there is bliss and if I must use the analogy of the ocean, I am only at the shore, and haven’t gone to it’s depths yet. Some of you, may have gone there and are there right now and can feel the uncreated, unbreakable, undiluted bliss. This Ultimate Reality cannot belong to any religion and can only be personally experienced, therefore a spiritual group or organization will not be able to contain such a Force. It’s impossible because once the spiritual group loses focus on this Ultimate Reality, which it inevitably will because people are too attached to primal fears and desires, they will lose focus on where to direct their contemplation. This Ultimate Reality doesn’t care for praise or criticism – therefore It doesn’t negotiate. So we cannot win this like we can do with the personal god. This Ultimate Reality is always here, within us, we just need wake up to it. It doesn’t need to do anything, we need to discover it by contemplation, by inquiry, by discussion and by meditation.
So, after discussing this with you, I find that Nirguna Brahman cannot be referred to as god because that will give it unrealistic expectations that It will not follow. This can only be referred to as the Ultimate Reality and is literally defined as having no form, no shape, no color, no dimension, no sound, no space, no time, indivisible etc. If we are to truly experience the essence of spirituality, it is only with understanding and knowing this Ultimate Reality without any duality within us – the observer.
The older I get, the more I analyze my spirituality. 10 years back, I was probably in a ‘honeymoon phase’ with my spiritual journey and today, I seem to reflect that I honestly don’t know how much I have achieved spiritually speaking. It’s easier to guess how successful you are materialistically, you can look at your wealth in your bank balances, the cars you own, properties, investments etc. But with spirituality, there are no milestones, it is not like you can be a quarter enlightened, half enlightened or almost enlightened. Either you are enlightened or you are not. How do we measure things like peace, bliss and joy? Is it shown through our values? Is it presented through the vibes that we give out? Is it the way we speak to others? All of these things can be subjective and projected through someone else’s perception and life experiences.
Spirituality is completely a gray area and it is obvious that spirituality isn’t a game of words or proclamations. Announcing to the world that you are enlightened is not enough. If I heard that, my spiritual sense would be telling me that something is rotten here and that I must observe the other person with little or no bias of my own. But how do I attain that sort of perception where there is no personal bias? It is by observing my own self diligently and with absolute honesty. Have I been able to get rid of my own prejudices? Do I get swayed like a pendulum in terms of opinions and views? Do I react instead of respond. Do I get offended by criticism and get carried away when praised? Even though some may say this level of balance may be difficult but the swaying isn’t healthy either. A balance has to strike otherwise, the ego really will always win and the efforts to dissolve the ego is futile. Therefore, a balanced mind is necessary and somehow I find that speaks volumes once you speak to someone. You can guess it by the attention they give, the words they say, the facial expressions and body language. It is only by fully knowing our own self that we can know others.
Therefore, if I do not know myself, is it right for me to pass judgment on others as how can I know them. Well, there are always tell-tale signs of anyone that is a spiritual delinquent. You know if someone is dishonest, or they cheat others, or they have a short temper. Sometimes, we can see the political motives of others and you don’t have to know yourself to see this. It is evident through actions and a sharp mind.
It’s hard to know where I am spiritually today. Sometimes, I feel that there is progress and sometimes it feels like nothing is happening but I trust the process completely. Maybe that is all that matters. Trusting the process that eventually I will know where I am spiritually and I can be at peace with that. All I know is that I am not at peace with myself spiritually. I feel there is a lot more that I can do and can achieve. Sometimes, I ask myself if it is worth it? It just seems so lonely at the top or maybe aloneness is the true oneness with all.
When we are looking for stability in our spiritual journey, the example of a sufi whirling comes to mind. I used to do the sufi whirling meditation and I remember the times when I would be whirling and feel an incredible sense of stillness, of absolute stability within my mind.
Those few moments of an empty mind was enough to convince me that meditation is the way forward if we want to have stability. In the midst of movement, of the daily hustle and bustle, I was to function from that stillness. However, to stabilize in this practice, you need to do it diligently everyday, otherwise it is was very easy to lose such progress.
Nourishing an element of inner awareness is the simplest thing to do but the most difficult to maintain. Hence, true spiritual attainment is available only for the few that are willing to give their all to the practice.