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.
A single moment with a (Spiritual) Master can transform your life. Recently, I read about how there are four types who approach a Master.
Follower – they are more of a spectator. They visit the Master because maybe there has been a miracle that happened in their life when they first came into contact with the Master. They only arrive to meet the Master because sometimes they like the charisma, the personality and the aura of the Master. They appreciate the teachings, they love the Master too but they don’t know the Master intimately. This leads them to be followers but with no depth of spirituality. The mind is so cunning of followers that they may be able to parrot the teachings but they have no experience of it.
Disciple – they listen to the message, they practice some of the teachings and they love being in the company of the Master. They listen very intently to the Master, they talk about the teachings and they serve but they have other motives at time. They can be a little political and allow their egos to sometimes get the better of them. Even though they love the Master, they have a little depth of spirituality, they possess a little of the inner experience but their heart isn’t completely for the Truth. They are totally in love with the physical form of the Master, that they have not tried to understand if there is anything more to the Master. They will speak of the Master as what they understand the Master to be.
Devotee – they listen to the message and understand the silence of the Master. They practice the teachings, they meditate and try to get rid of their ego through self-inquiry. They are not just attached to the physical form of the Master, they understand that there is an inner form of the Master. Their love to the Master is one that is close to union but there is still a duality between the Master and devotee. They vouch for the Truth but it is still mainly conceptual. They seek to understand more, they read more spiritual texts. They are very close to being enlightened, they are nearly there. They are great spiritual beings to be around, they will inspire because they will speak of the Master as the Master is.
Mystic – they listen to the Master, understand the silence and beyond the silence too. They can look into the eyes of the Master and they lose all sense of self. They are one with the Master and there is no real difference between the two. They live and breath the Master. They are enlightened, they have understood the Truth and are consumed it. Their understanding is based on their own inner experience. They have not only the understanding of the Truth, they are able to observe all through the Truth. They live in the world, not consumed by it, they use the world to their needs over wants. They inspire everyone because of their energy, they are exactly what is expected by the Master. They are truly free from the ego and its trappings. They are in constant union with the Master, the representation of the Formless.
These are the 4 types that approach the Master and neither are good or bad, it is all based on what you want in life. All are welcome by the Master.
There was once a king, who heard the sweet song of a bird. A bird that was able to fly to different branches of different trees, roam in the clear blue sky or thunderous showers. It could see the whole world with it’s wings whenever it wanted. It enjoyed its freedom. However, the King was in love with the birdsong and wanted to hear it every morning.
The King’s Assistant caught the bird and placed it in a golden cage filled with diamonds, and other precious stones. However, the bird didn’t like the cage because he couldn’t fly and this deeply upset him. He would weep and the King thought the bird was singing a beautiful song and was immensely happy. Unknown to the King, he felt the bird appreciated the golden cage and precious gems, who wouldn’t love it?
One day, the King’s Assistant was assigned to clean the cage, whilst doing so, at the most opportune moment, the bird flew out and didn’t look back. He flew to the nearest branch, he could find.
Watching all this was a parrot and the parrot was annoyed at the bird and said to him, ‘What are you thinking? You had such an amazing home, you had to just sing beautiful songs for the King and you was given a golden cage. You are an idiot for giving up those precious gems. You didn’t even take one out when you left. You have lost everything with your so-called freedom’
The bird listened and after giving some thought, he replied to the parrot, ‘You may live in the cage if you like it so much but I prefer the freedom of roaming in the sky, living day by day and being happy because I am alive.’
Before the bird was intending to finish, the parrot flew inside the cage.
The moral of this story is that we as human beings love to be caged under doctrines, repeat whatever isn’t our own experience, we bound ourselves under religion, nationality, race, gender and color. If by some chance, someone decides to be free, to tread on a path that no one is willing to walk upon, we think they are crazy. However, if we really want the Truth, if we really want enlightenment then we have to do it alone and be willing to live moment to moment, whatever it brings. Yesterday, today and tomorrow will be the same for the parrot in the gems-filled, golden cage. However, every day brings in a new possibility for the bird that found it’s freedom again.
Likewise, if we are stuck on a body level only, then we will only be subject to the laws of the physical. If we choose to let go of this cage of the mind, invest time in thinking, in inquiring about what stops us from living the truth then we can truly transcend the time and live as consciousness, a pure awareness, as the Formless.
There will always be the Light of Truth and it is all about how you can get yourself there. Don’t look upon anyone to give you the truth, to take you to the next stage. Accept that it is solely your responsibility.
The Spiritual Master simply gives you that wisdom, which opens the ground for a practical realization of the Truth. The Spiritual Master simply guides that the Truth alone should be worshipped. In fact, worship of the Truth is the only way to worship the Master. All other means are simply your own devotion but has nothing to do with true worship.
We have such powerful minds that we can do anything if we truly desire to do so. It is best to focus our desires on a fruitful life that is lived in an enlightened realization. It is okay to have all the riches of the world but a life of enlightenment is what makes life become a spectacular journey.
Never run away from responsibilities, the Truth is given so that you can enjoy every aspect of life – whether that is your family relationships, your occupation, your hobbies etc. Enjoy it all and again, remember that the foundation has to be built on Truth.
The Truth is only understood, comprehended and an embedded part of life until you truly meditate on it. Without meditation, remembrance on the Truth, it will disappear because it is so subtle. How can we grasp the Formless through the limited form of our senses. Going beyond the senses, we are able to grasp the Limitless Formless Truth.
All we need to do is approach a Spiritual Master with the sincerity to practice until the goal is reached. Merely thinking, talking, preaching about the Truth is not enough. Practice is key!
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.
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 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.