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.
Growing up, I feel that I was always told that we can realize God in an instant, and that realizing God is the same as being enlightened or self-realized. Although, I believed this when I was growing up, when I did receive the Knowledge that was meant to give me this instant enlightenment, I didn’t feel enlightened or god-realized. The Knowledge given was potent enough for me to feel the Energy that it was pointing to but my mind didn’t change, I didn’t have any experience like feeling oneness with everything.
I say all this because my Guru has never claimed to me that I would get instant enlightenment, He always told me to continue working hard on my spirituality. To be honest, I don’t know how I got the idea that I would get instant enlightenment/liberation, my memory doesn’t serve me well on this point. It did get me disenchanted with spirituality around 10 years ago though and that wasn’t a nice experience for me. I was also told that I will be liberated but to be honest, I was still scared of heights and spiders at that time, so obviously I didn’t feel so liberated! How can you feel free when basic fears still roam the mind?
I used to hear people talk about how they were instantly enlightened or could see god everywhere but it didn’t tally up with their actions so it took me down a path of confusion.
It was only years later that I started to read wider spiritual literature that I started to understand that enlightenment was very unlikely to be instant, it was always a steady process. Not everyone simply got it straight away without the mind being fertile enough to receive the Knowledge, therefore once received, it was the only thing needed. Most of us, need to spend and focus time on building a spiritual practice that is serious enough for enlightenment.
Today, the neo-advaita scene, the neo-bhakti scene, all make promises of instant enlightenment. However, they are making a huge mistake. It is not instant enlightenment but one is able to recognize the immediacy of the Truth, once the Knowledge or Pointing is received. One is able to understand the Taste but that is it. It is like when you go to an Ice-Cream shop and taste different samples. Once you taste a flavor, you immediately have the taste, you recognize it. You may order 1 scoop, but that one scoop will finish. Therefore, this ‘enlightenment’ really is short-lived and is more likely to be an awakening or a satori. What I consider enlightenment is a perpetual state – it is continuously there as the ego has dissolved away.
So what if like me, you were given the promise of instant enlightenment, or you read books, watched YouTube videos, listened to podcasts, went to satsangs, meet-ups or retreats and were told you would be liberated instantly because the Truth is always now, the Truth is always here, only to find out that really there has been little progress and you have fooled yourself into thinking you are liberated, you are enlightened? Well, don’t worry, there is hope, even for the likes of me and you!
There have been great Gurus of the past and present that understand that Truth can be realized, right here, right now but it requires some effort in the beginning. Most of the people that seem to get it instantly tend to have already done great practice in the past. Therefore, it isn’t as instant as it is perceived.
So let’s look into what needs to be done when we receive that special Mantra, Knowledge/Gyana, Pointing or Initiation?
Contemplate on that Mantra, Knowledge etc.
Take time out to think about whatever you received. Take time out to contemplate on this wisdom. What impact does it have on your mind? What does it do to your surroundings? Does it do nothing and still feel potent? Contemplate on it, focus on it, dwell on it, don’t let go of it. The more you live with it, the more it helps you.
Meditation is a useful practice and this meditation that I am talking about is specific. Just watch your mind and keep watching. Travel with each thought and emotion and see where it leads to. Find where the thought or emotion appear from. How does it get formed? How does it dissolve? This isn’t easy as it sounds and is an arduous process and doesn’t offer it’s rewards easily.
Reading the Scriptures, I am mainly someone that has studied texts from Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. This is important. When we read, we are meant to contemplate on the words. Look at what they really mean to us, forget whether the interpretation is right or wrong because investigation or inquiry into it will help us get to the correct meaning. However, when we read more about the Truth, we find ways on how to incorporate it because Sages who got enlightenment, liberated, they recorded their guidance there. This is the satsang that is most important.
Prioritize and spend time for your spiritual practice
You have to spend more than 2 or 3 hours a week on it, if you want to get any results. Spirituality isn’t a part-time affair or entertainment for a couple of hours. It is serious, more serious than one can imagine but there is fun in there too. If you do chanting, or listen to mantras with music, it creates an ecstatic feeling so it can be joyful, you may end up dancing, that is fine. However, your discipline to spend time on your spirituality must be serious. It has to be as focused as possible and must be everything you want. The thing is, we don’t have to let go of our material possessions or anything like that, or let go of any desires. Let your spiritual practice define what needs to be done. What matters most is what matters to you the most.
Be honest in your reflections
Be honest about where you are spiritually, record it in a journal or start a blog like me. Inquire into your spiritual journey with great honesty everyday and don’t be disheartened if it hasn’t moved forward for a while. The more honest you are, the more humble you will become. All this is a natural process. There is no need for the holier than thou attitude and if you read the scriptures, you recognize that none of those sages ever had that attitude. They were humble and honest and wanted future generations to continue with that legacy.
These are a few things I wanted to mention that will guide us into a more gradual journey towards enlightenment. It may take a long time, it may end up happening instantly, who knows but the fact is we need to be humble, honest and ego free. If we are to become true spiritual beings, we have to imbibe all the virtues required. We cannot become bigots after enlightenment, it isn’t possible. If one can fall from grace like that, I question if one ever was in grace or was enlightened.
This may take years, but I am ready for this type of journey. I am ready to take the time to be more aware and be brutally honest about it. Yes, the Truth is here and now, and I feel it but I haven’t become it yet. There isn’t a union or oneness with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from my side. It may be united with me but doesn’t mean I understand that it is always united with me.
I hope what I said makes sense and please do reach out to me if you have any questions or comments. This is a discussion, a dialogue to get to a place where we want to become enlightened beings. We can discover the answers together with an open-mind.
Can positivity ever be considered negative? Simple answer is YES! I know, wait a second, let’s understand what I have just answered. Am I saying that it can be negative to be positive? Yes, I am exactly saying that. What are my reasons? Well, let’s dwell on this.
Have you ever faced a time in your life where you feel sad? Or you are going through a traumatic time with an illness? Or you feel trapped in a relationship? Just had a break up? Lost your job and been out of work for months? Got bad grades? You decide to tell somebody about it because you want to be listened to, you want to be heard. What is the response? You may have had the following responses:
There must be something good in your life?
Don’t worry, you will get better, be positive.
Be positive, at least you are in a relationship.
Look, there are more guys/girls out there.
Don’t worry, you will find a new job, stay positive and keep applying.
You can ace the next exam, be positive and keep working hard.
I know that I have said the above to people in the past and it is only recently, that I realized that maybe I am not being helpful to people when I say such things. Okay, I may not be in the ‘stay positive’ or ‘positive vibes only’ crowd but I am guilty for sometimes saying something uplifting when someone only wants to talk. They just want me to listen to them deeply, without judging, without thinking about what to say, just being absolutely present with them.
The most powerful responses I have ever received have come from people who stay quiet for a good, few minutes and then they offer some advice or sometimes they just give me a hug. Sometimes, that is all we need or someone else needs. We don’t have to coat our every advice with positive statements or affirmations, we can sometimes just state things as they are and deal with it as it is. We can advice according to the situation and work out together how best to deal with the situation.
The toxic positivity crowd has grown with social media. We now have social media personalities who spew out how positivity is everything and if you aren’t having a good life, it is because you are not positive enough. They talk big but life shows that it delivers flatly. Trust me, I have read my fair share of self-help books, followed self-help gurus on social media, followed their advice somewhat and realized I haven’t been helped at all. Everything I am doing is based on my circumstances and my analysis of my circumstances. I take time to look at what I am going through and meditate on what the best response is. Yes, it may not be the approach of anyone that wants fast results but sometimes, being slow and steady helps us to address the problem or issue fully. It is best if you allow that feeling of positivity to arise within you naturally.
Sometimes, we are told that we aren’t grateful enough and that gratitude is the best attitude. But if I am feeling stressed, I am not going to be grateful for anything else. Am I to be grateful for my stress? How does that make any sense? So this is what it goes back to, we have to face what we are dealing with and really look into it. See the root of it and observe the root of it. We need to spend time on what disturbs us, and then we can direct our minds to find ways out of it. We need to allow each thought, positive or negative, to flower completely, to travel with the thought so it can express itself completely. If we end up cutting that thought short, we may be repressing emotions or thoughts that may lead to a greater sadness or depression later on.
Tomorrow, you may listen to some positive thought and it helps you tremendously. And a few days later, you face a situation and to overcome it, you use that same positive thought and it doesn’t help anymore. Don’t ever put yourself down if that positive thought isn’t working. Whatever you are going through has become bigger than that positive thought. Life gives us situations so that we evolve, so we see the deeper truths of life and if we mask it with positivity, it is still a veil. Therefore, find new ways of dealing with issues or problems, most of all, try to understand the problem.
What I want to emphasize is that if you feel sad, I am here to look at the sadness with you. If you are happy, I am here to look at the happiness with you. Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going through, I am here to go through it with you.
I believe we should look at our thoughts and our emotions as they are and deal with them as they are. Yes, some thoughts will be painful to look into but sometimes it is that looking, that observing that helps us to drop that thought. This is what has helped me in my life.
Motivational quotes and sayings may be nice to look at and nice to hear but do they transform us? Do they really make you get up to conquer the world? How about we aim more locally and look to conquer our minds. This can only be done, if we spend time and go through the process with our undivided attention.
The older I get, the more I analyze my spirituality. 10 years back, I was probably in a ‘honeymoon phase’ with my spiritual journey and today, I seem to reflect that I honestly don’t know how much I have achieved spiritually speaking. It’s easier to guess how successful you are materialistically, you can look at your wealth in your bank balances, the cars you own, properties, investments etc. But with spirituality, there are no milestones, it is not like you can be a quarter enlightened, half enlightened or almost enlightened. Either you are enlightened or you are not. How do we measure things like peace, bliss and joy? Is it shown through our values? Is it presented through the vibes that we give out? Is it the way we speak to others? All of these things can be subjective and projected through someone else’s perception and life experiences.
Spirituality is completely a gray area and it is obvious that spirituality isn’t a game of words or proclamations. Announcing to the world that you are enlightened is not enough. If I heard that, my spiritual sense would be telling me that something is rotten here and that I must observe the other person with little or no bias of my own. But how do I attain that sort of perception where there is no personal bias? It is by observing my own self diligently and with absolute honesty. Have I been able to get rid of my own prejudices? Do I get swayed like a pendulum in terms of opinions and views? Do I react instead of respond. Do I get offended by criticism and get carried away when praised? Even though some may say this level of balance may be difficult but the swaying isn’t healthy either. A balance has to strike otherwise, the ego really will always win and the efforts to dissolve the ego is futile. Therefore, a balanced mind is necessary and somehow I find that speaks volumes once you speak to someone. You can guess it by the attention they give, the words they say, the facial expressions and body language. It is only by fully knowing our own self that we can know others.
Therefore, if I do not know myself, is it right for me to pass judgment on others as how can I know them. Well, there are always tell-tale signs of anyone that is a spiritual delinquent. You know if someone is dishonest, or they cheat others, or they have a short temper. Sometimes, we can see the political motives of others and you don’t have to know yourself to see this. It is evident through actions and a sharp mind.
It’s hard to know where I am spiritually today. Sometimes, I feel that there is progress and sometimes it feels like nothing is happening but I trust the process completely. Maybe that is all that matters. Trusting the process that eventually I will know where I am spiritually and I can be at peace with that. All I know is that I am not at peace with myself spiritually. I feel there is a lot more that I can do and can achieve. Sometimes, I ask myself if it is worth it? It just seems so lonely at the top or maybe aloneness is the true oneness with all.
Meditation has helped me a lot and recently, I have been rather easy with it. If I do it then great and if I don’t then great. However, a regular practice of meditation has always helped me to see life more clearly and with a lot more honesty towards myself.
Sometimes we want to care more about something or give more attention but with our constant short-lived, fast-food culture of seeking happiness, it arrives and disappears quickly. When we are able to concentrate and focus on life a bit more, we tend to have a longer lasting happiness. This is a gift that meditation surely has given me.
Being aware of your own self is super important. If you know what angers you, what annoys you, what makes you happy, what gives you joy then you more likely to make choices that benefit not only you but others too. A happy you is beneficial to others unless someone can’t see someone happy, which when you think about it, it can be slightly strange.
At the moment, I am reading the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda and I think the Universe and the Formless beyond the Universe is trying to tell me that get a little more serious about meditation again.