I have withheld all my thoughts at the cliff edge of my mind,
A step further and the emptiness will be filled again,
Many times I have gone over the cliff,
Trashing myself into an ocean of thoughts.
Why do I lose the beauty of an empty mind?
Why do I not allow the song to continue?
Where the Sacred Aum surrounds me,
Yet my thoughts seem to drown me.
I've let thoughts win each time,
Not that this is a battle on my side,
Each time I seek for the Sacred Aum,
More noise seems to appear at the Gate.
Acting like a great host - I let the noise in,
Suddenly my house is frantic with chaos,
I often stand by and watch this drama unfold,
And again I enter into the Sacred Aum.
When the noise has finally entered into a melody,
When the heaviness of thought enters a lighter state,
When sorrow dissolves into an intoxication,
I am bliss, transforming into Formless Awareness.
I received an interesting response from a dear friend of mine, whom is a Professor and a spiritual teacher for many of us and it was about if families always accept that you are a spiritual person? Do families always embrace those that start walking on the spiritual path or move ahead in it?
I did write yesterday that your family members know about your reality, whether you are truly spiritual or not. However, it definitely isn’t always embraced. My dear friend pointed me towards a very interesting direction here. Sometimes, your family or close friends can become a hindrance to your spiritual path. There is a great amount of internal fear in being spiritual and the reason is that it allows you to be comfortable with being alone. However, family and close friends may fear that they will lose you if you fully embrace your aloneness and they use their imagination of you moving into a cave and meditating until you die. They may fear about how they will live – food, shelter, transport, their smartphone etc. They may also fear that you will not need them anymore as much as they need you. They may start to fear your independence and within them, they also crave for that independence but they don’t necessarily want someone else have it, even if it is their own beloved family and friends.
It is known in my family that my conversations will end up being spiritual in some sort of way. For me, spirituality isn’t an app that I check now and then or a piece of clothing when it feels like I have to. Spirituality for me is an everyday and every moment part of my life. In fact – it is my life. I can’t live without it. It has totally consumed my mind. This is not always embraced. I know I am left out of social events with friends because of my spiritual nature. If I am at an event, most talk has to be on a superficial level and I get bored. Even if spirituality is discussed on a superficial level, it is tiring for me.
In the past, my family have not been supportive of my spirituality and there was always worry that because I was not materialistic enough, I wouldn’t hold a good job or want to earn good money. However, I have shown my family that I have all of that spiritual seeker within me despite moving up in my career along with buying a house and even moving to another country for a better life. However, there is something in me that is always wishing the ascetic lifestyle. I would love to be a monk and what I have learned in the past few months is that I can be living in the world, in the midst of materialism, in the midst of social change and be a monk within. Untouched by the world and its drama, yet acting in it fully. It has taken me a long time to get to this place in life.
I feel that the opposition to my spirituality has not touched what others have gone through. Some are definitely called hypocrites and claim that it is all a show – a pretense to claim these beings are spiritual. Again, this is stoked by fear. If we see that someone is able to live out spiritual oneness, we attempt to discourage them with hurtful jibes. However, these people carry on in their spiritual life, no matter what their close friends and family say. They know the purpose of their life.
Many Gurus saints or bhaktas have faced opposition from their close ones too. From Guru Nanak to Kabir to Rumi to Tukaram to Mira Bai. Their passion and love for the One, for their realization was overwhelming and I assume for their family members torturous. Who would like that their family member starting loving God more than them? Or at least that is how it is perceived. Tukaram used to get a good old scolding from his wife. Rumi’s children were jealous of his relationship with Shams. Not every spiritual person, not every mystic is able to please their close friends and family.
There is a reason why I have, what can be termed as a normal life. I have a wife, eventually we will have kids, we have a home, a car, a job, a Netflix account and social media accounts. At the same time, my weekend is more or less devoted to spirituality, to my own individual practice as well as in the week. I read scriptures on a daily basis. Any free time I get and I will have my iPad out, reading on the Kindle app. I also do spend quality time with my wife, we go on date nights now and then. My spiritual life is perfectly balanced. However, some may say that one command from my Satguru (True Master) can change things? I may be asked to preach, if my Satguru truly desires so. This will not change my lifestyle but my lifestyle should become exemplary. Yes, my diary will change it’s focus but the monk within can still reside in the hustle-bustle of this world.
Not everyone has it easy and I guess this is my post to say that it is okay if you are condemned for being spiritual. Atleast, you know deep in your heart that you are doing the right thing for you. How can we care for others, if we ourselves are in turmoil? We should never dampen that spiritual zeal to further enhance our spirituality. If you feel you are being challenged in your spiritual journey, let me know. Let’s talk about it.
The Truth is always revealed about us eventually and if you have a family, it is even quicker. Your family recognize any inauthenticity before you even utter the first word. Your actions, your body language, your intentions speak before anything else. That is why that if we truly want to be spiritual then the first people who will declare it is our family. For example, my wife will be the first to tell you my reality. That is the way it is.
We often seek to pretend to be something we are not in our social circles or when others are around. When we are with our own then our real nature shows. If we are truly kind and considerate then that shows. If we are mean and horrible then that will show. We cannot fool those that live with us each and every day.
We like to show the world that we are something else. We want others to have a certain image of us and we play upon that image. Yet, the spiritual path, the path of wisdom is all about destroying the image. We do not need to be labelled, or put into a box of a certain kind. We are to be free from such notions. The path of the wise is about becoming nothing and this is the biggest fear we fearfully hold. Being nothing is linked to death. With death, we know that nothing will happen to us. Inside we know it. For example, even if you believe in heaven, you are still nothing on the Earth now. This can create a sense of fear of us. The highest spiritual attainment for the mind is to become nothing, to become empty and this is the truest victory. It is only at this point that we understand that we are actually Fullness. We are Imageless. We are Formless. We are beyond even the sense of nothingness, emptiness or void.
Too much of our life is about what we are trying to portray instead of revealing what we truly are. It is the ascetics, the monks, the spiritual householders that truly look to reveal what they really are. Vedanta calls this Brahman – the Ultimate Reality. How many who claim to be spiritual, who claim to be sharing wisdom, who claim to follow religious rituals are in touch with the Ultimate Reality that is within them? Not just within, it is around one, beyond one and the Ultimate Reality is the Gyana (Knowledge) that is understood beyond the mind. Therefore, this can only be shown and known when one accepts what they are. Once one is able to silence the mind so that it can be programmed as being Brahman then they are Brahm Gyani (Realized Being). It is the Realized Being that is living the Ultimate Reality as the Ultimate Reality.
I am very fortunate that I am able to discuss this with close friends, my wife on a almost daily basis. One thing that has really helped me is seeing Brahman, or Nirankar (the Formless) in my wife. In the morning, when I bow down to touch her feet for blessings, I truly feel that the Ultimate Reality in her and in me too is Greater. This is the birth of real respect. This is the beginning of being authentic. This is the flowing river of love. It creates mystics. For if you can see love in the eyes of your beloved one, in your parents, in your friends then wisdom is at your beck and call. What is the point of wisdom, if it doesn’t create respect for others? What is the point of wisdom, if one is not open-minded towards all.
I do want to talk about spiritual intoxication and maybe will tomorrow. How do you practice spirituality in your day to day life? I would love to know.
The biggest declaration is one that is made in your own very heart, your very being itself. It is a personal moment that whenever it is shared, it is lost and unless you are a mystic, you cannot afford to share it yet.
Bathe in the wisdom that you have discovered in your own being, meet it every day, spend quality time with it, get to know it more, unveil things that you never knew and make sure that you are convinced that this wisdom will never change and is of an eternal nature. Once you find this, then it is worth sharing. Then the more you share it, the more you realize it does not deplete.
What is wisdom? It is knowledge that becomes experience. It is eternal, changeless, transcending and in many ways it is beyond comprehension. When it is translated back to words, it loses a large part of it’s essence. Wisdom is not like strong winds that blows you away, it is that gentle breeze that swirls around you in a dance, it envelopes you and takes you to a place of meditation, a place of inner awareness, where there is stillness and you have been taken over by that wisdom.
Mysticism of the East have named this wisdom as Nirguna Brahman (The Formless Oneness without attributes) or Tat Tvam Asi (You are That). This is where all lofty thoughts, concepts and ideas come from. However, we must always separate them to Nirguna Brahman. To get to this point of clarity, to this indivisible state requires practice in meditation, and contemplation on one’s true self with the company of the wise. Serving others in a selfless manner can also bring one to that clarity. If one serves all as if serving Nirguna Brahman, many have reported attaining that Wisdom itself from performing selfless acts. Devotional acts have made people reach Nirguna Brahman too even though one may believe they are worshipping Saguna Brahman (the Formless One with attributes).
The fastest way to Nirguna Brahman is by seeking a teacher, a Guru of Truth. With their Grace, they reveal this wisdom in an instant. They may ask the seeker to purify themselves first by reading scriptures, sitting with wise company, meditating, volunteering etc. The Teacher, when they feel the seeker is ready, unveils the Highest Wisdom – Nirguna Brahman. From there, it is seen that Saguna Brahman is the manifested in the Guru of Truth and whenever the seeker finds it difficult to connect, they lead the seeker to Nirguna Brahman.
This is my experience and I find myself very fortunate to be able to behold nothing but Nirguna Brahman for periods of time. Even though, I do find it challenging to connect to Nirguna Brahman, I find that devotion, singing the praise of my Guru of Truth, my Saguna Brahman leads me to the Formless Indivisible Self that resides within me. In fact, I am always This but I am battling my mind/ego to accept it.
The definition of spirituality is aplenty. Some say that it is about becoming a human being, some say that it is to transcend desires, some say that it is to give comfort and peace. Many definitions but the main question for me is whether spirituality is a door that once you walk through, you can never walk back?
The way I see spirituality is very simple but ultimately complex at the same time. Spirituality is the realization of the no-self. Once one attains the state of union, there is no longer two. If there is only one, there is no need to say so. Once we give this formless, or shapeless no-self – the idea of self, even the label, we end up losing what it actually is. It is clear through Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta that there is no-self at all. The mind is not the self and the body is not the self. The only thing that remains is something that if spoken about, it would be destroyed of all it’s essence.
Many people claim to be spiritual but they have some affiliation with some concept and I guess what I am trying to say is that if there is affiliation with one, then there is a possibility of infinite affiliations. If there is no affiliation, no attachment to anything – philosophy or thought, we will find that it encompasses it all. In my head, this all makes sense and I don’t know if this is making any sense to you. I really do find that defining spirituality at its core is a dangerous path because once it is defined as a path, we can create multiple diversions.
Once we discover this no-self, I do find that we end up seeing everything as it were a great theatrical play in motion, this time the characters fail to understand that it is all an act. They have become their characters. The method is now madness. When we are able to step back and observe, the no-self within us in untouched by any of the experiences perceived.
Ultimately, what is the Formless to itself? absolutely nothing and I think this is the fear that we have, we are afraid to be nothing even if it means it leads us to be the nothing that is in everything.
Growing up with a thirst for spiritual awakening was not easy as I had to study and build a life thereon. Studying for me was boring because it was forced upon me and inside I knew that I would probably never use half of the things I learned in high school. I was right about that but my thirst for spiritual awakening was also growing, as I became more thirsty, several mirages appeared in my life to distract me – whether it was women, intoxicants, wealth etc.
Eventually these mirages were ignored after several years of going through these experiences as if they were true. I look back at the past and think I was so sure I was doing the best thing for me and now I almost regret some of it. However, what has been done has been done. I have to move forward.
As several mirages appeared again, I knew it was right to let them be as they were but not be allured towards them. I was then clear for spiritual awakening, so I thought but such experiences never come easy even if you have the tool to instantaneously get it.
The mirage of concepts was very heavy and while I got rid of some concepts through careful analysis on their validity, I ended up created some more concepts and down again I went down the rabbit hole. From saying there is a god to know saying there isn’t a god – I was firm on both these concepts at one time and now – I don’t know even though the answer is very, very clear to me.
Two things I had never let go of: One was my love for my Spiritual Master and two was my meditation. Even though, I tried to stay clear from my Spiritual Master, I understood that something else was being played. Even though I disagreed a lot with some of the philosophy that His organization taught, it was later discovered through my own meditation that those were my philosophies and not His. This was when I realized that our perception had to be cleansed in order to truly understand a philosophy as it is and not how you interpret it.
Let’s just say that the way I see the philosophy now is very simple – the realization of the Formless Self, is the realization of your True Self. The Spiritual Master just points at that Formless Self. It is up to you whether you look at the Formless Self or take a little detour with looking at the Spiritual Master. If you do take the detour, it becomes dangerous territory because you may love the Master but your mind has not realized it’s true self so therefore, your Master will be judged by you – even if it is a positive judgement. Any judgment will not let you see something clearly.
As I mentioned, I stayed away from my Master while I was going through this major analysis, but I was very devoted to meditation and meditated a lot. I was working and would wake up as early as 4am and meditate for an hour, then read for two hours and then get ready for work. It so happened, that on a Saturday, I started meditating again around 9am and as I was focussing on empty space for a while, I saw the tiniest dot of Light appear and I was amazed at this. I floated in this empty space and went near it and I heard a sound that simply said ‘Before this, I am,’ and I just saw this dot expand and the whole of creation was presented to me. I couldn’t contain myself and took myself out of the meditative state. I didn’t know what I experienced other than there had to be something before creation.
I have never forgotten this experience but it came back to me three weeks ago. This time, the tiniest dot was not seen but empty space was taken away from me and I came to an absolute stillness and centered my whole focus on that stillness. I was so taken aback by it that it felt like I had been there for 10 minutes when in fact, it had only been around 30 seconds. It was an intense experience. I realized one major thing – it didn’t matter whether this is god or not – there is only stillness. Call it whatever you want now to personalize it. I totally understand why we name it. Yes, it certainly dilutes what It Is but people need something to relate to and the easiest thing to do is to name it.
I enjoyed this experience and I have noticed how it continuously presents itself to me without any desire from my side. It’s presence cannot be ignored by me. It only then occurred to me that my Spiritual Master had told me about this around 5 years ago. He held his right hand out, His palm facing His stomach, maybe 15 cm away from His stomach and with His left hand waving in between the right hand and the stomach said “You have to be aware of this, it is stillness. Keep focusing on this awareness.” Little did I know that after almost 3 years of His departure from His physical form would this golden nugget of wisdom make sense to me and I would understand it.
The mirage I had then was that a Spiritual Master is only the physical body, this is a massive illusion. The teachings are of an eternal nature and so is the presence of the Master. It is now that I truly appreciate everything that has been taught to me. I am still learning, discovering and in fact, I am more eager to learn than I probably was in my teens. Spirituality has no end in terms of literature but in the end it is your own experience that matters. Use the literature to inspire you, refuse to let it be a concept.
A few weeks ago, I had my second spiritual awakening, the sight towards enlightenment is also on the horizon. All gratitude goes to my Spiritual Master.
The intense longing for the Truth, the strongest desire for the perception of Reality, the heartbreaking moments of losing everything and everyone even your own self for the sake of enlightenment is the beauty of devotion. Dancing like there is nobody watching, dancing by yourself without the need of music because the sound of the universe vibrates around you. Singing like there is nobody listening, singing by yourself without the need of the audience because the only spectator is the Formless One. Speaking like there is nobody listening, speaking with yourself without the need of appreciation, speaking just because you are sharing your heartfelt experiences with the Divinity that is within you, that surrounds you and that permeates within every aspect of creation and yet at the same time is beyond creation.
It is a shame that the western audience for Hinduism, specifically for Advaita Vedanta or nonduality or even neo-advaita is shunning devotion because they feel the intellect can reach the highest state of knowledge. Frankly, it cannot and it never will. They praise Kabir, Shiva, Rumi and yet, the miss the fundamental practice they had and that is bhakti or devotion. They had a strong passion for the Formless and the one who revealed the Formless to them. They praised their Gurus and today, we have become sceptics, albeit not for the wrong reasons, we have not opened our hearts to the Guru.
Self-realisation or God-realisation is impossible without the grace of the Guru. The disciple feels that the Guru is absolutely needed and the Guru will feel equally as dedicated and passionate towards his disciple. I know for a fact that the Satguru or True Teacher is out there, literally in love with his devotees and sacrifices everything he has for them. Devotion is impossible without a Guru.
Here is a poem by Rumi:
Once again my beloved sought me and found
Joyously in the marketplace sought me and found.
I hid myself, at my feet that drunken rose, rose from the ground
I escaped the House of Wine, sought me and found.
How wondrous that so doggedly would hound
What luck that such swindling lock sought me and found.
Who would find me if with crowds myself surround?
Knower of crowded secrets sought me and found.
I have left a bloody trail; just look around
And the one on my trail sought me and found.
Run away to what avail, deathward bound
Why hide, a thousand times sought me and found.
I pulled the thorn from my side, yet one more round
That oak towering flowerbeds sought me and found.
Like a pearl at the bottom of ocean, drowned
Pearl diver, with a string sought me and found.
Shams-e Tabriz with piercing eyes and no sound
In the light of insight sought me and found.
Kabir also says:
Even if the whole earth is transformed into paper,
with all the big trees made into pens,
And if the entire water in the seven oceans are transformed into writing ink,
Even then the glories of the Guru cannot be written.
So much is the greatness of the Guru.
Today, devotion needs to be celebrated and observed correctly. It is not just about passionate love and affection but it is the route to grow within spiritually. Knowledge transforms into wisdom by the act of devotion. Having the intense love to be there with the Beloved, the Formless One. Without the Formless, there is no love for even the forms around us. With Advaita Vedanta and other paths, you may negate until you reach the Formless, but to stay with the Formless, you have to learn to love the Formless unconditionally. Only then does the realisation stay with you. Only then does wonder and awe become an everyday part of your life. Only then do you become an explorer of Reality and Wisdom. This is only when the intense longing of the Formless is within us. To truly be wise, is to truly long for the Formless. The Formless is Reality. The Formless created consciousness. You can only understand the nature of consciousness, if you understand the nature of the Formless.
The Formless is shapeless, ceaseless, boundless, birthless, deathless, self-existent, colourless, endless, without a beginning, full of love, compassion, radiating with peace and harmony, celebrating the oneness of all things. The Formless can be yours but can you let go and surrender to the Formless.
Surrender is not letting go of you, it is letting go of who you think you are. When you surrender then you truly find yourself. Then you truly discover who you are and this Reality will stay with you. Surrender is only possible in duality, once you enter the nondual state then who will it be that surrenders. In the grand scheme of it, it is the Formless surrendering to the Formless. Surrender removes any aspect of the ego that can disturb the process of enlightenment. The chances of surrender become higher with keeping in the company of like-minded people, serving others selflessly and constantly remembering the Formless is within you and around you. Remembering the Formless not as a form of repetition but as a form of daily practice. Every feeling, every intention, every emotion and every thought must be done with the remembrance of the nature of the Formless.
Devotion is the key to spiritual enlightenment. It can be done instantly and it all depends on how much you really want to be enlightened by the Formless One. The path of devotion is simple and it is simple because the Formless is simple. It doesn’t need to be complicated by massive words which mean nothing. The less you want the Formless then frankly the longer it will take you to be enlightened. It is not if you become enlightened either, you already are but the ego will always make a goal or a meaning out of it. Being on the path of devotion, you have to let go of meaning, of concept and context. You simple have to be in this moment. This moment reveals the eternal. Give time to the Timeless and you will see a moment transform into eternity. Devotion adds juice to your journey. Without it, your faith, your practice will stand like a wilted tree, bored and secluded in the desert. However, devotion will be like an oasis in the desert. Not only does the oasis enjoy itself but others feel blessed by the presence of the oasis. They also drink the nectar that leads them into immortality.
The path of devotion is extremely important. I would go far to say that it is the best way to God, to the Formless, to Reality or whatever you would like to call it. You can even curse This, and if you do it out of love and passion then it will reveal itself unto you. It is not partial to words. You think God is so sad that He analyses each word. He knows you analyse it yourself and you yourself provide your own punishment. God neither punishes nor congratulates. He has left that to You!
His Love and Blessings,
Rahul N Singh