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.

***

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.

***

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.

What is Wisdom?

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.

5b7cbcc372adc7da9359581549cb15c8

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.

Love.

Lack of insight

It tends to happen that when we feel that we have some tremendous insight, we tend to have it based on a weak foundation. Why? The insight has been borrowed by something we have listened to, read or maybe even seen. However, insight that is gained through experience is what creates a solid foundation.

Many times, I have come across individuals that wish to sound intellectual and they write something that makes very little sense and shouts confusion. However, how does one respond to such people? It is better to simply stay silent and take 24 hours to respond if needed. If an urgent response is required, at least read the response 10 times before sending. I feel that today that more people respond for the sake of it and then not only lose the respect of others (if that matters to the individual) but most of all, they narrow their own vision.

We should never be so convinced that what we are saying is useful unless we know it is based on experience. If something is based on theory, then it is better to admit that this is just based on some borrowed knowledge and that the aim is to experience it. Again, the steps towards experiencing any truth should be taken seriously and urgently. The last thing you want to do is delay experiencing and then discovering that your place of rest is going to be in a morgue.

Mysticism – the Union

Drop-in-the-Ocean-375x350

The greatness of mysticism is it’s powerful endeavor to unite consciousness with the Universal Consciousness. The steps that are taken with mysticism are very simple. It is a constant inquiry into how can I become one with the Formless? It is a real look into the availability of such an experience and the expectation of disappointment if any concepts once held become useless and heavy baggage onto the ego.

Mysticism is the transcendence of the ego into a more human, yet divine being. The ego is not casted as some evil creature that needs to be banished. It is a friend that served its purpose and now must rest. Yet, if for whatever reason, a deviation from the path occurs, this sleeping giant (ego) can rise again to take over from the more human and divine qualities of the being. The ego despite not wanting transcendence helps us with many tools to show us of its presence. If pride of any kind appears, attachments, lust, greed or false identity then the ego is ready to take the reigns again. Otherwise, one can truly rest in spiritual awareness and enjoy a very human and divine life.

Uniting with the Universal Formless Consciousness is a time when we can experience an expanse, yet we can have a single-minded focus on that point of absolute stillness. This seemingly paradoxical realization is both empowering and a continuous source of inspiration. The more we acclimatize with this, the more spiritual awareness grows and becomes a larger part of our lives. When our spiritual growth starts to mature, when the union has laid a solid foundation, joy and bliss are around the corner. I can sense this in my own experience.

Mysticism is the way forward for a true spiritual journey. Unless you do not find the Formless Self within you, it will be a difficult and arduous journey ahead especially if honesty about your growth is in limited supply.

Devotion – An Underrated Practice.

devotional2

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

Post 93 – My letter to Hindus

Dearest my lovely readers!

Hope you are all fine and are having a great week.

Today I would like to talk to my Hindu friends. Coming from a Hindu background, I have grown up around Hindus and Sikhs. Frankly, Hinduism is so vast and that can be seen in a positive light or a negative light. It can be seen that it is very open to new practices hence the vastness. Or it can mean that the Truth has lost itself with rituals and false commentaries being placed above it. On top of that, some Gurus do not even understand the scriptures themselves and then start their rants.

I have read a lot of the Hindu scriptures. I have read the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ashtavakra Gita, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Rig Veda.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Upanishads and the Ashtavakra Gita and the reason is that this is the direct truth as it is. It is between the masters and the disciples. It points to the truth and does not shy away from saying that Hinduism is meant to be full of sages. This is something I really respect about Hinduism but with the new wave of Gurus and with them all claiming a right over the Truth, it is sad to see the growth has stopped and blind worshipping has taken over.

The latter (Ashtavakra Gita) possibly the best thing I have ever read is a book that shows how a Guru transforms his disciple into a master of his own right.

The Bhagavad Gita is great but due to its openness, it is always open to interpretation and many people can resonate with it because Krishna accepts everything. However, this is not the right way to look at the Bhagavad Gita. One must understand the context in which Krishna speaks and it does not necessarily mean that we can adapt what He says to fulfill our egoic ambitions. One can see the way it has been misinterpreted by the head of the cult ISKON. I have read the Bhagavad Gita As It Is and it’s very poor when it comes to the commentary and the author does not explore all avenues to what Krishna could have meant. Sadly, the translation falls short and I personally would never recommend this to read first. Then I have read the commentary of the Bhagavad Gita by one of my favourite Guru’s – Osho. If you click on the word Osho, a pdf of the book will open in a new window or tab. This is the best commentary of Krishna’s words and Osho brings a modern flavour to it without limiting Krishna. If you really love Krishna, it will show in how you take Osho’s words. On top of that, I would say the translation by Eknath Easwaran is top notch!

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are interesting and can be a bit difficult to understand for a new person. However, I will say it is amazing to read. I would suggest you find someone who has read it to explain it to you if you feel you cannot understand it.

The last one is the Rig Veda and I find this to be the weakest of all scriptures. It is funny how majority of the priests follow this scripture but it is very ordinary. There is hardly anything great or outstanding in it. You can tell that it is written by some greedy people, who were more interested in maintaining their power in society. The Vedas is a collection of ordinary words and expectation for something spiritual diminishes very early on. It is more a political book than a spiritual one.

I remember once speaking to a Pandit from London and I must say that I respect him alot and if I see him, I will give him a huge hug. I asked him ‘What is the best translation for the Vedas?’ He looked at me and saw my thirst for the Truth and whispered ‘Don’t read the Vedas yet, read the Upanishads first. It is more interesting and spiritual.’ I was a little confused so I asked him ‘Don’t you use the Vedas for your practices?’ And his loving response was ‘Very rarely do I tell someone to read the Upanishads, seeing you has made me very happy and I know you are not a hindu. As far as the Vedas is concerned, I have to earn my bread and butter.’ There was sadness in his voice but hope too. The fact is, I knew he never met anyone who has asked to read the scriptures. But if you understand what the Pandit was saying, it is of immense value.

I have come across people in my life, who claim to be Hindus and have never read their own scriptures. They will do the pilgrimages, they will go to the mandirs, they will listen to the kirtans and do jagaratas (all night prayer), they will do their rites and rituals in front of their idols but not one of them have consulted the scriptures. Hence, it is easy for Gurus to manipulate the scriptures to meet their needs. I see it on the television, all these gurus quoting the scriptures and because nobody has read them, people are misled. If the Guru on the stage says that ‘Do not drink water between 5pm and 6pm on a Tuesday otherwise it will bring you problems. I can guarantee this because it is written in the Vedas. If you want to get rid of this – there is the donation box and you will be saved.’ And the majority of people have not read the scriptures (and even most priests cannot remember alot of the scripture) and they will fall into the trap. They cannot remember if they have had a sip of water during that time and it is possible that they have, so they will put something in the donation box. This is blind faith. As far as I am concerned and the Upanishads are concerned, they tell you to know the Truth directly, instead of going around gurus who will not teach you the scripture but is looking to fill his pocket with YOUR money!

A True Guru will tell you the tool for self-realisation or god-realisation and then will tell you to read the scriptures and see if you can see the Truth now. You will be surprised at what you find out! In fact, the Upanishads tell you that go and find a Master, who can give you the Divine Revelation, who can give you Enlightenment! There are a few Gurus out there that are doing this. I will not say that it is my Guru only. Existence has been kind and blessed us with a couple of enlightened gurus.

If people used a little intelligence and spared a little time to read their scriptures, they would understand their religion. Hinduism is not a religion that is misunderstood by non-hindus but in fact, is the most misunderstood within its own followers. I have read the scriptures and say this with authority. If they consulted their scriptures, they would know that the way they are worshipping is not going to give them liberation nor is it going to improve their next lives. So I find it a sad state of affairs to see Hinduism losing itself in the insignificance of useless practices. Just read the Upanishads or the other scriptures. I would love to have a chat with you and discuss it in depth. If you are really religious and it’s not something you do for leisure or ‘time-pass’ then you will take my offer. I find the knowledge to be far too valuable to be lost in the miniscule nature of the practices that are ordained by the ignorant priests.

What Hindus here need to recognise is that I am not even a Hindu and I know your religion more than you. I find that sad. Prove me wrong and read the scriptures. Please!

I have a vision that one day, these scriptures will be talked about and practiced. The scriptures will be a guide instead of being a mere tool for reciting. It is all about reading, listening to it in your mind, then contemplating on it and let the experience flow. I feel this can be done today and this is what real learning or education is. This is what a real place of worship does. It places experience over words. The experience becomes the Truth. All the scriptures are meant to do is create a desire within you to experience the Truth, the real Freedom, to be one with godliness!

Thank you for reading this and I hope you understand me.

With love,

Rahul