The 4 Ways of a Spiritual Seeker

For the casual spiritual aspirant, where a few hours a week is dedicated to the Spiritual Path, then a spiritual organization is very necessary. It helps them with a framework that they can use to have a sense of purpose, to have the benefits (and pitfalls) of belief or faith, to remain dependent on an outside agency (like a deity, God, or Gurus) to help guide when errors or mistakes are made.

For the more serious spiritual seeker, that actively practices and settles at nothing but the highest attainment of moksha (liberation) then the path of the Mystics is important. The function of an organization, centered on an individual or a group becomes a massive hindrance along the way. Therefore, this seeker must carve their own path.

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Non-Dependency

A casual aspirant will not benefit from non-dependency, but the serious seeker will benefit the most. The seeker doesn’t depend on their own experience nor the experience of others. All experiences are fleeting and this whole world is transient. They understand that nobody can guarantee anything without one’s own effort. The spiritual aspirant, with their few hours will depend on the good graces of the philosophy, ideology, group or figurehead and will always dance according to that tune. It is even alluring that you do nothing but grace is given. Now, the spiritual seeker cannot understand why we should depend on that grace alone. When we have to get rid of duality, then why add more to that duality with the other? It is better to focus on the One alone and upon our own effort. No need for anything else. Yes, right now for the seeker, duality feels real but they understand that what feels real is actually transient. I don’t like to use the word ‘false’ because this world is beautiful and isn’t wrong or a mistake. In every quark, there is the essence of the most beautiful yet, Formless Ultimate Reality.

The seeker instead goes up the levels of reality, where they see their life and everything connected to it as a transactional reality and they are not to depend on any transaction. They are to work through these levels of reality until they reach that Reality where there is no difference, no separateness and is a complete, perfect Oneness. In fact, if the serious seeker does depend on anything then it is the Formless Ultimate Reality or the Self alone.

Philosophy or Ideology

For the sake of this discussion, when I mention philosophy, I am containing both philosophy and ideology in this. For the serious spiritual seeker, they cannot do with a fixed philosophy that someone else has developed. They always seek to deepen any existing philosophy or look to develop their own. Their efforts and their experiences leads to a higher state of being where they start noticing the ‘devils in the details’ and cannot adhere to such conventional thinking. They then choose to transcend those details and conventions much to the disappointment of the group that they belong to. The group of casual spiritual aspirants or the figurehead may look at the philosophy as a great template from afar. But even the genuine figurehead knows the conventional wisdom template needs to be erased and written with the seeker’s own wisdom, therefore, they truly give that seeker the freedom to develop. This has always been done and the reason why we have Mystics like Rumi and Kabir.

As much as a philosophy is a great starting point, it is not the means and it is not the end. The seeker recognizes this and moves forward. They spend time analyzing every philosophy, their own thoughts and continue to evolve. This is why I admire Hinduism as a religion for its amazing diversity of philosophy – you can be a theist, an atheist, an agnostic and still be called a Hindu. You can even reject Hinduism and that is still a very Hindu thing to do! The Buddha rejected the Vedas and is still considered an avatar! For the Hindu sees evolution and celebrates it. For this reason, Hinduism has created a strong philosophy called Advaita Vedanta, which is now being considered as aligning with Science on the basis that reality is non-duality or a unified field. What the mystics found within, scientists are finding with their equations and formulas. Hindus accept that philosophy is not meant to stick around but it is meant to be molded and created into something new. In fact, each individual is a religion in their own self. For this reason, there is neither dependency nor one single philosophy. The seeker must find their own.

Universal Mindset

Even though, a group may claim that they have a universal approach to spirituality, you will find a nuance in their thinking. Only their approach is universal, anything else is not universal. What is really funny is that most spiritual organizations claim the monopoly of having the only way. They are the chosen ones with the Chosen One to lead. They have been picked out of the billions for this sacred journey that they dip their toes in once in a while.

Even though, they may claim to be open-minded, but anything that is different to the Group’s philosophy is rejected and considered to be false unanimously by everyone. Like I mentioned, whenever we start to think that we have a better path than everyone else, we automatically close our minds to the universality of wisdom. The wisdom that we start to associate with becomes incredibly narrow and is never the focal point anymore. Hence, we start worshipping one god, guru or group only and cannot go beyond that scope.

To be truly open minded is to transcend all associations to an organization. Yes, we can belong to a group but we should never feel alpha about our group compared to others. We should have the humility to see the similarities and bond over that. Where there are differences, we should accept them as someone else’s journey and findings that are just as valid. Then again, I expect only a serious seeker to understand this and be able to differentiate on whether a difference in philosophy is based on experience or mere tradition. The more casual aspirant will want to stick to their way because it is the best way and the only way. It is comforting but not ego transcending.

Convenience

We can get too comfortable and start becoming lazy with our spiritual journey. Whenever dependency arises, the sense of comfort sweeps in and imprisons us. The spiritual seeker is not spiritual for their own convenience or comfort. They seek to disturb the current worldview that they hold. They look to dissect their ego to what it really is and to check if the ego actually exists! Spirituality in the truest sense is an inconvenient Truth. It doesn’t care about your feelings, your thoughts, your intentions, or what you want reality to be. It shows you reality and then you have to learn to deal with it and work accordingly to It.

When the spiritual aspirant get comfortable and lazy, we prefer to do the easy things that gives us the cloak of doing something spiritual. It helps our ego to think we are doing something towards seeking a Higher Reality. It fools us. It puts us in shackles and gives us the illusion that we are reaching great progress. Therefore, it is important to check if we are settling in the Ultimate Reality or are we settling in our ego that we have fashioned into some God or Higher Being.

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The Possible Dissonance

There are some serious spiritual seekers that function within an organization/group and may also follow a figurehead. There may even be a deep reverence for the group and the figurehead and will share the collective teachings according to their understanding or findings. However, there will be a marked difference and that is they follow what is right according to their own being. They will not simply accept any idea, thought or action and they may even challenge anything that they disagree with. It is then dependent on the group or the figurehead if they want such a person. They may find that such dissonance is not welcome and it is with that understanding that I go back to the central idea that within each one of us is a religion waiting to be born.

Be a Spiritual Seeker

What you want to be is truly up to you. But if you want to enter spirituality, then there has to be a seriousness to it. I do believe that being a serious spiritual seeker is super fun and is a thrilling journey like no other but I can see how it isn’t for everyone. For some, the minimal effort is all they can do and they have other priorities which is fine. For them, a framework set by another, whether an organization or figurehead, does suit them and their lifestyle so why go further? It does help them at least live a good and moral life.

For the more serious spiritual seekers that understand that Liberation or Moksha is the ‘end’, they need to put some serious work. This spiritual work has to be done all on their own, after they have exhausted the help of others and all philosophy. This path is less traveled and no compass, no GPS can help because the GPS will always re-route you back to where you are and the compass will always point back to you.

Unity is where Justice Begins

Yesterday, I watched something that I didn’t think I would ever see. Zack Snyder’s Justice League. His version, the complete version, the way that he intended the movie to be experienced. There were many great moments in that movie, which maybe I can discuss another time. However, I want to really express how this is a victory of many kinds and the one that deserves the most mention is the Snyder Fans and DCEU fans that fought for this cut of the movie after the diabolical theatrical version that was released in 2017.

Background

Zack Snyder is behind the Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman movies. With Batman Vs Superman, when the theatrical was released, the Studio interfered and wanted to cut the movie by 30 minutes. So this led to this movie being critically panned. Later, Snyder released the Ultimate Edition of that same movie, and this elevated the movie to another height. It was much, much better, the 30 minutes added so much context.

During the filming of the Justice League, the studio interfered to a greater extent. They would ask to make things lighter and the director that Snyder is obviously resisted most of the time. He was building a universe for these Superheroes and he understood what was needed. The Studio wanted something lighter and more kid-friendly like the Marvel Universe and not the more mythical, grittier, darker and more grounded Universe that Snyder was created.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck and the Snyders lost their daughter Autumn to suicide. Emotionally this is tough to deal with and the Studio wasn’t compassionate to this situation and kept interfering to the point that Snyder had to leave the Justice League. Which is understandable when a father has just lost his daughter. So the Studio then hired the man that created the first two Avengers movies and the rest can be seen in the critically-panned and rejected by the audience 2017 theatrical version of the Justice League. To be honest, it’s Whedon’s Justice League and that is how it should be referred to. Not to forget, cast members had to reshoot a lot of scenes say corny lines and jokes and face a hostile work environment. This is all well documented by Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg and he made an official complaint.

The Fans Movement

The moment the theatrical was released, as far as I can remember there was whispers on the net that there was another version of the Justice League that Snyder had originally visioned. Then then snowballed into a massive movement of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and as we know, this was finally released.

Now, this campaign kept growing and growing. The one noteworthy thing that I want to discuss especially is that it wasn’t just the Snyder Cut that they were campaigning for, they also found another cause and they supported that with just as much passion. This was the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and this is because Snyder directed them to follow this cause too. This meant fans raised thousands for this charity and what a beautiful cause. Mental health is such an important topic that can never be discussed enough and suicide is a feeling that anyone can feel one day. What people need is support and unity and the fans united behind this cause.

Eventually, the Studios could not ignore the fans commitment to seeing the Snyder Cut and they did everything to make it happen, from making trends on Twitter to having billboards asking to release the Snyder Cut. Thankfully HBO Max began conversations with Snyder and today, we can enjoy that movie. The fans won this long battle of almost 4 years.

#UsUnited

The greater message of this whole thing is that when we are united around a cause, and this was a noble cause indeed, we can achieve great things. This is felt throughout the whole 4 hour superhero epic. This underlying theme of unity and that division only brings greater evil into society. But when we unite, when we go beyond culture, beyond language, beyond borders, beyond color then we become a force for good, we can tackle any human-made problem.

The unity that the Snyder fans created around Suicide Prevention is so important during this time of the pandemic when aspects of life have been reduced somewhat. When we listen and support each other compassionately, when we understand each other, when we respect each other, when we understand how to communicate better with each other then we can get rid of a lot of problems, even our internal struggles. The fact is we face our struggles alone and I feel that society can do a lot better in not letting people feel they are lonely. But mental health is different and diverse for each person and this must be respected and understood from a place of compassion.

I do wonder whether Zack Snyder’s Justice League was ahead of it’s time even for 2017. As a globe, we have gone through so much and specifically in America, we have had to deal with growing domestic terrorism, violence and death due to racism, an incompetent President and administration between Jan 2017 – Jan 2021 and then a global pandemic that has only seen wealth inequality grow. I wonder if Snyder’s film makes more sense today because of our shared experiences as a society.

#RestoreTheSnyderVerse

I end with this one request to Warner Bros – restore the SnyderVerse in its entirety. Give him complete freedom to create this DC Universe on the cinematic screen with the other directors. Stay out of their vision because when you let creative people do what they need to, they can create something you can never imagine.

Next…

There is a lot in my head that I am currently processing still and maybe they will result in some more blogging. Anyway, I hope you are all well and thank you for always supporting my blog.

You Are Not Alone

If you are struggling with mental health or are having suicidal thoughts, here is more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention https://afsp.org/. If you feel you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Empathy – Is it so difficult?

Today, I write with a heart that isn’t able to understand where humanity has disappeared into. Recent events in India have been disturbing and conflicting and one thing has been missing. That one thing is called empathy.

The Farmers Protest in India has been riddled with misinformation, misbehavior of a few and a lack of empathy from the nation. Whether the Farm Bills are right or wrong isn’t my issue here and that is something the Government has to work with the Protestors on. My issue is why has the country lacked empathy and when I say country, I specifically mean its spokespersons like Bollywood, Politicians (regardless what wing you are), Large Corporates, Spiritual and Religious Gurus and organizations etc.

Around 70 protestors have reportedly died, many are still protesting in very cold conditions and some of these people are the elderly and young children. People who are risking their lives regardless of the outside conditions are protesting against the Government. Instead what has the Indian Government done – absolutely nothing. Not even empathy has been shown, forget compensation.

While I sit here writing this in a centrally-heated home in the United States and still feeling cold, I cannot even imagine what an elderly farmer must be going through in the biting cold in Delhi or wherever in India they are protesting. But one thing is for sure, this isn’t fair to the protestors. They have been protesting for over 3 months and that during a pandemic but the empathy from our leaders, our celebrities, our religious/spiritual gurus has been missing.

Empathy is something that every emotionally intelligent person should feel. The pain of someone else, we should feel this. The thought of another in pain should make us shudder. This is something basic that we should all feel. Instead what we get is distraction from the actual issue. We get a few Bollywood celebrities who are obviously fed from the current Indian Government to give standard tweets out and ironically state that India is against propaganda. It is an absolute joke! Why have they all of a sudden spoken up? Because Rihanna sent out a tweet asking one question! Greta Thunberg sent out a tweet in support of the Protestors and India loses its mind. They start burning effigies of a 17 year old child and the Government, these bollywood celebrities, spiritual gurus say nothing about this? They don’t condemn this?! This 17 year old has done much more humanitarian work for the environment than all of these celebrities put together. Instead they tell people like Greta, Rihanna to leave the country alone, it is an internal matter and say their views are propaganda against India

Now this leads me to the next point, where are the Spiritual Leaders hiding today? Why are they not addressing the inhumane response to these protestors? One Guru did speak up but defending the Government. In fact, this Guru tweeted that celebrities outside of India shouldn’t interfere with Indian politics. This very Guru has celebrities ‘interview’ him and I have to ask why does he need their help? Maybe to become popular? Make more money? Look more credible? It is hypocritical of him to pick and choose when celebrity status is important. Maybe, he should stick with staying in his own ashram instead of going to the UN and interfering in global politics or meeting Logan Paul and other global celebrities. The less I say about his actual teachings, the better.

Spiritual Gurus are known to be great thinkers or reformers, they are meant to present to us how to be model citizens. But their current response has been lacking across the board. There are a few who have understood the plight of the Farmers. But they were called terrorists by the current Indian Government and the mainstream media that is in bed with the government. I can understand the hesitancy but empathy is larger than that. Compassion is about responding with rightful action against the oppressed. Heck, I wonder what names the mainstream media and the government would have called Mahatma Gandhi today?

We have to understand that democracy doesn’t mean that a government can do whatever they like because they got the votes a couple of years ago. A democracy is about having a voice and allowing voices the freedom to express themselves, to have a non-violent dialogue about the pressing issues of our times. Democracy is all about being in the moment.

Some people may turn around and tell me that some protestors have been violent. But if you look at the language of those against the protestors, it is nothing short of violence. Calling a peaceful protestor – a terrorist is calling for violence. When you put spikes in the road and concrete barricades, that is creating violence by showing division. When you block the internet so protestors cannot communicate with each other – it becomes authoritarian rule. When you block food and water supplies – that is a crime against humanity! Every single bollywood actor, every journalist, every politician, every corporate, every spiritual/religious guru, every citizen is complicit if they side with the Government and it’s ridiculous misinformed narrative and violent actions in regards to the Farmers Protest. Silence will not do, we have to defend the right to protest.

I end with a question. Why has empathy become so difficult to feel?

The Easier Path or the Simpler Path

Life is such that when we choose the easier path, it ends up being more disastrous for us entirely. Now, the easier path doesn’t necessarily mean the simpler path either. They are major differences between the two, let’s explore this together.

The easier path tends to be one that we do out of fear. For example, what would by friends think? What will my colleagues think? What will the people in the church think? We think more for the approval of society than the betterment of our own self. We make sacrifices for people that are living their lives but somehow we are impacted by their thoughts that have not even been conceived. Yes, we make their thoughts and reactions up in our mind. There are times, we do things because we think the struggle will bring us down. Yet, I can tell you from my social media feed that most people will claim hustle is in the struggle but when it comes to day to day life – they avoid struggling or suffering. Many times, with my own problems, I learned the hard way that whenever I thought the easier path was better, it would go horribly wrong for me, I suffered more as a consequence because we all think the easier path is better, and others advised me the easier path too because that is what they would have done. So our suffering, yours and mine becomes cyclical, we become busier and more invested in our problems, so how do we end this?

In fact, it is the recognition of suffering that leads us to think in more simple ways. We can analyze a situation, a thought, a problem, emotions with a mind that understands what is bringing suffering and will come up with the solution itself. We look at the simple solution to everything. If I am upset with something, I must understand why am I upset? I must look at it as a whole problem. Not just my angle, or the angle of the other but as a whole without inference from anyone. Now, there have been times when I have guided my friends, the more simple path but it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Heck, I didn’t want to say it but it helped them in the end. See simplicity is embedded with the Truth. We live a more truthful life when everything is simple. When we complicate things, it is best to look at a problem through simplicity, rather than the easy path.

Let me highlight this with a very clear example. When we are in a disagreement, it is very easy to shout one’s thoughts or to react. But the simpler way would be to be silent, to listen, to be and then decide if a response is needed or not. The easier path will just change the situation and travel in all directions but the simpler path will transform the situation and bring the issue to stillness, to a standstill.

This was with worldly things but as you know, there is a spiritual context here. In fact, until we understand that Truthful Living is with simplicity, only then are we ready for a spiritual life.

In spirituality, we find ourselves always going towards the easier way. We look for the quickest way to enlightenment. We entangle ourselves with ideas that are definitely simple to understand, but if our mindset is a fast-food type of spiritual enlightenment then we will complicate it. Instead of doing arduous practice, we like it when we hear someone say, if we give you this or that, chant this mantra, you will realize the Truth or realize God. We love it when someone says we can attain something easily but what is the bigger picture. I covered this in my previous blog post Instant Enlightenment – Is it a Myth? that someone has probably practiced spirituality, lived an austere life, meditated a lot and then they met a Guru, who gave them the wisdom and they attained all that needs to be attained. They got it not because understanding spirituality became easier, they became simpler. There are less desires, less thoughts, less attachment, less emotion. All these things add up. Therefore, spirituality is always simple, we complicate it because we would rather pray to a deity or to the Guru and ask them to get rid of our karma, to grant us liberation. Unless you are a poet or a singer who performs or writes this to invoke the spirit of seeking, we should commit to being disciplined in our spiritual practice – that would be being simple. But we cannot, we want shortcuts, we want it all easily, but unfortunately God or Truth, whatever you want to call it, isn’t so easily attained.

With life both material and spiritual, be real. Don’t think about what others think. The first thought should be if you are ready. If you are ready, then think of the simplest way to get what you need or to do what is needed. Otherwise, the easier path is there and sometimes, it does work out but only for a while. We think our situation has changed, we think people have changed and we are deceived. The illusion of change is such that transformation becomes a lost cause. Therefore, to transform is to be simple.

Readiness for the Truth

There are times when I feel I am going round and round in circles for the Truth. Despite knowing how near It is, how close It is, I still feel like I haven’t got there. It is like the nervousness one feels in the stomach before you arrive at some destination that you were travelling to. Even if it is a place you go regularly, there is always a nervous feeling.

I often wonder on days when I feel that I am going round in circles about what more do I need? Do I even need to do anything more? Why can’t I just get it? What makes others so convinced but yet their arguments or their findings don’t resonate with mine? Am I just not ready for the Truth? How can I get ready for it? How can I be best prepared for it?

I don’t know if there is an answer. If you have one then please do share it with me. All I know is that the Truth feels so close, yet so far at the same time. Sometimes I feel I have grasped it and sometimes it sifts through like sand in my clenched hand.

I wonder whether it is the feeling that I am eternal that has become the hindrance. You know, nothing ever dies and that energy simply transfers. Or I would get another opportunity in my next life. At times, knowing all that isn’t enough for me and I begin searching again.

Is it that I think too much or am I not focussing on this Truth enough? Am I not enquiring into who I am enough? Do I need to make it a do or die type of event? I simply don’t know but somehow I feel I have to do this all alone. Nobody can take me there, they can get me to do the door and they can even open it. It is I that has got to walk through and the Truth is such that nobody can push you through to It either, it requires your own admission.

Distractions

Life is an incredible experience when one is grounded in the present moment. When each moment is lived fully, when we approach the moment with absolute vitality, life becomes extraordinary. Even what would be considered an ordinary experience like taking a walk, brushing your teeth, taking a shower can be seen as extraordinary, it just depends on how present we are, how invested we are into that one moment.

It feels like the whole point of spirituality rests on a single moment. Everything leads to that single moment, and that moment becomes eternity.

However, the biggest problem today is distractions from actually living. It seems like if we have a day doing nothing, then it has gone to waste. In the drive to create experiences, sometimes we forget that we are alive in this moment. As we bend our necks to stare at our phones, swiping all over the screen and we sometimes forget that our world can be right in front of us, our family members, our friends and colleagues. We distract ourselves from life so easily . I wonder if we were on our deathbed, I question whether we would place value on the time we spent mindlessly on our phones than spending another moment with our loved ones.

For me, my main purpose in life is to live in the Truth. I am not there yet, and have quite a journey to travel! However, anything that I do that is not in pursuit of this is a distraction. Anything linked to this pursuit is not a distraction. For example, my day job is necessary for me to pay my bills, to live comfortably therefore, it is helping my pursuit towards that. This means that instead of thinking of how I will get my next meal, I can focus on living moment to moment in awareness of the Truth or to seek knowledge about the Truth.

Therefore, it is best to keep our minds away from distractions if we want to live a spiritual life or live a life based on the Eternal Truth. If we want to live mindfully, if we want to live moment to moment then distractions must be kept at a minimum. Otherwise, who are we fooling other than ourselves when we claim we want to live a more spiritual-based life.

Our State

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.

Silence It Is

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.  

Instant Enlightenment – Other Factors

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

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.

Instant Enlightenment – Is it a Myth?

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

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 Scriptures

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.

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