Can Wisdom Be Bite-Sized?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

We love to have information on the go. We want to be able to understand something as quickly as possible. We prefer to listen to a clip of a podcast or grab a summary of a book. We do all these things so we can somehow remain knowledgeable and aware of current events and most of all, remain relatable.

Who wants to go out with friends or spend time with family and not be able to talk about the latest viral clip out there or the book that transports us to another world? Or discuss that self-help book that taught us one good thing and has dramatically changed our lives. The new diet that has worked when all other diets didn’t work. That new Netflix show that we binged upon. We all want to remain relevant and when technologies and social platforms are taking us in all different directions, there is only so much time, therefore only so much capacity to learn about everything.

The same is with spirituality these days. It desires to be relevant. You can see popular gurus and wannabe gurus (mainly the self-help types) give small clips of 5-10 minutes to capture their new and existing audience and gain new adherents. They also want to gain popularity on social media platforms with reels and TikTok videos, going viral is the next best thing for the Gurus, who wish to put thousands of pages of ancient wisdom in 30 seconds clips. They most likely have a media team that works on this content and who knows how many bots may have been bought to get these gurus featured on Facebook or Instagram. Some disciples share the clips of their gurus and make them viral too.  Some gurus may be completely innocent of the fact that they are now featured on a social media platform. The impossibility of sharing bite-size wisdom somehow becomes possible but with massive disadvantages.

Spirituality requires time. There is nothing instant. The only way to climb up a mountain is to use your hands and feet. If you take a helicopter and go from the bottom of a mountain to the peak, you cannot claim to have climbed the mountain. Sure, it is a shortcut and although the destination is the same, the journey is completely different. The person who climbed up the mountain can talk about the terrain, the view from each side of the mountain, the wildlife, the vegetation and the difficulties faced during different weather conditions. They can talk about the whole journey with confidence and interesting tales. But someone who uses a helicopter misses out on all of these sensory delights. Similarly, the clips we hear of these gurus is never enough. We need to engage with their longer talks or their books to understand their philosophy. We need to know about their experiences and so in turn, we are inspired to apply the teachings.

But like the person who took the helicopter, we listen to the gurus and project their achievements as our own. This is only noticed when we carefully observe our own thoughts, intentions, emotions etc. Better to look within and see what has transformed than sing the glory of a god or someone that we do not know. Just because you caught that Guru featured on Instagram that doesn’t mean you know what it is like to be a disciple of theirs. Bite-size wisdom will not work because it doesn’t provide true clarity. It doesn’t tell us of the whole journey. We get a sneak peak and that is all. But who is satisfied with a movie trailer? We rather watch the whole movie. Same with spirituality, it is better to learn and follow any methods than to just glorify a path that we haven’t taken a step in.

I understand that I may sound ‘traditional’ but I have learned more from the larger books that I have read and the longer talks that I have listened to or watched. I love Swami Sarvapriyananda of Vedanta NY’s talks. His explanation of the Upanishads and other texts probably span over several days and I have deepened my understanding of Reality! I love Yog Vasistha – a thousand page book on Hindu philosophy. Or the 500 page Vigyan Bhairav Tantra by Osho. I remind myself of the thousands of pages of poetic wisdom in the Guru Granth Sahib and the 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita. I am not saying smaller books and talks haven’t helped, they have. The beauty of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran is both delicate and strong. The high wisdom of Tao Te Ching is on many levels unmatched. I am not saying that the length of a talk or book measures how much wisdom is contained. I am talking about the thinking, the silent pauses you take when you pause a talk, or put down the book and you begin to ponder as you grab new insights, as you infer your own experiences to the words just heard or read. A verse from the Tao Te Ching cannot be read mechanically, it has to be properly understood. It may take less than a minute to read but it may need a good 30 minutes to understand and comprehend. Trust me, 30 minutes isn’t enough but you get my point.

Wisdom may come in bite-size pieces but eventually, we need to understand things deeper. We need to transcend the potentiality of something become superficial. Once something is superficial, it can become rigid as a limiting belief and we open the gate for ego to enter and expand. Therefore, if we must utilize this bite-size wisdom phenomena that has become mainstream today, we must not lose the art of contemplation so that this wisdom can penetrate us and complete us.

5 ways a Spiritual Master helps you on the Spiritual Journey

I want to focus on the Spiritual Master and 5 ways that it has helped me on my journey, so it is incredibly personal. Before I go into this, let me discuss with you briefly the difference between a Figurehead and a Spiritual Master. The Spiritual Master has a personal relationship with your spirituality and the focus is purely on spiritual growth. The relationship has more compassion, forgiveness and love. The Figurehead is someone that carries on a tradition and is impersonal for the most part and has the danger of operating with fear and complete obedience. An image is created for them and the Figurehead follows this image accordingly. There are cases that some are a mix of a Figurehead and a Spiritual Master and each case is hugely dependent on the disciple or the follower.

My last blog post dealt with how we need to be self-reliant in our relationship with spirituality, if we are to be serious seekers. I mentioned that having a fixed framework that is a ‘one size fits all’ like a philosophy/ideology that all must follow and following a Figurehead was important for a casual spiritual aspirant. It offers structure, some practices that are not strenuous, and it will at least give us all the tools to make us decent human beings.

Let’s now look into the 5 ways a Spiritual Master helped me on my journey.

Individual Path

My Spiritual Master understood my approach with spirituality and responded according to it. My Spiritual Master guided me to carve my own way to understand the deeper realities. I was to pick myself up when I fall and remain grounded whenever my ego could soar to unnecessary places. My Spiritual Master was very quick in understanding and accepting that I didn’t belong to any organization/movement and that my Spiritual Master’s guidance is everything and would remain so. I would ask questions on what I was confused about and my Spiritual Master would give me answers sometimes. Occasionally, I would follow up with more questions. Then there were times that silence was the answer to my questions. Normally, a day or two later I would find the answer I was looking for. It was always within me.

Discovering the Inner Guru

My Spiritual Master through silence and the knowledge of the Self showed me the Inner Guru that was always residing within. I was to befriend this as much as possible. I was to ask this Inner Guru my questions, share my doubts and worries, and even my joys and feelings of bliss. Whenever I sat down to meditate, I was to focus on the image of the Inner Guru, who would then take me to the Formless, Impersonal, Ultimate Reality. So when I met my Spiritual Master, I could give a highlighted report about the progress of my spirituality and whatever answers I couldn’t find, I would ask those questions and would receive the answers accordingly. The more I connected with the Inner Guru, my Spiritual Master gave me a lot of love and we grew closer.

Return to the Source

The focus was always on returning back to the Source, the Origin, and the Formless Reality that is always there in the background. This doesn’t and has never disappeared. It is always there and I just had to focus as much as I could on it. My Spiritual Master would tell me to stick to the Formless, and don’t look anywhere else. If I would listen or read something, I could relate it back to the Formless. Explore and find the connection and then bathe in that Awareness. The more awareness I had, the better. This became the base of my meditation. I was blessed with some amazing experiences and this was because of simply following my Spiritual Master’s guidance.

Synthesis of Spiritualism and Materialism

My Spiritual Master laid great importance on connecting the spiritual and material. I wasn’t to live dual lives – one that is spiritual and then one of the world. I was to find the Spiritual in the Material World. I was guided that the Spiritual is very much present and that I had to lift the veil in order to see it. I did find that the more I focused on my spirituality, then I never had to worry about my job or anything like that. Somehow, life always remains smooth. I do my work to earn a living and I focus on my spirituality. Both have a beautiful relationship with each other because I was told to see the oneness between them.

Let the Heart Speak

This is something that is very dear to me. My Spiritual Master guided me to only share my best and that was through my heart. If I was to speak to a gathering, I was not to be prepared. It is funny but whenever I prepared something, I would forget it and deliver something totally different. I always enter a different state of being – very similar, if not the same, as when I meditate. I lose sense of my individual self, finding Awareness through the Heart and then I speak. For some reason, I can never remember anything I say verbatim. I can never remember lines of spiritual texts. I just seem to understand the essence.

Concluding Thoughts

The reality is that my Spiritual Master has allowed me to really develop my own spiritual path, according to my understanding. Being agnostic, this is very helpful for me. Even though, my Spiritual Master talks about God, I understood what was meant by that word. Although, I don’t like using the word but I know my Spiritual Master’s discourses reach a wider audience. But in private conversations, the word ‘god’ was seldom used. Only Formless, or Awareness was used with me.

The Spiritual Master understands you and works with you to excel in spirituality. The focus is on your own improvement alone as a spiritual disciple. One of the best moments during a conversation with the Spiritual Master is whenever you come to a realization or you discover a beautiful insight and you share it with the Spiritual Master. They will listen to it as if it was completely new to them as well and you will see wonder glowing through their eyes. In that, they teach true listening along with keeping an attitude of wonder. The Spiritual Master is the truest advocate of mystical experiences and their aim is to create a Mystic.

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.

Planning

Planning is an essential tool to being prepared for the present but more so, live the present so the plan is executed. Nothing ever goes to plan but the effort never goes to waste. Being prepared, understanding what failed and what succeeded provides hints to what the future beholds.

Our behavior changes when we understand that we are liable for our own self. How much can we blame the outside society, our genes for who we are. If we think we can change, then you can change. It is as simple as that. If you can imagine it, then all you need to do is take one step forward to make it a reality.

Live life but make sure you are always safe – physically, mentally and financially. Eat wisely, think wisely and spend wisely. Spend time or money on what increases your intelligence more than anything else. More knowledge can mean a better planner, an imagination that reaches far and wide and being in the present brings an awareness that only a few ever encounter.

Post 95 – Knowing is the Only Way!

Hi readers!

Hope you are well.

I had a thought, can I call it a thought or shall I say revelation? Hear this out: ‘If you know the Truth then you don’t know. You can only be in knowing of the Truth.’

I probably could say the last sentence with greater clarity but I shall explain this a little now. Whenever, you come to a point and say ‘I know the Truth’ that cannot be the Truth speaking. It can only mean that you have given up knowing or desiring to know more. Instead, you have made the Truth a possession and you cannot possess the Truth. It cannot be grasped nor seen but it creates a great amount of intensity within you. It creates something intimate, where the feelings overflow into something magnificent. So the state of what is called enlightenment is the discovery of knowing. Knowing is everlasting, it is infinite and therefore cannot be grasped by thought. If it is, it creates memory and memory cannot be the Truth. Truth is always new, always fresh and pleasant as it is created from wisdom. Truth is freedom. Memory is distorted and can lead to illusion as it is base is knowledge or just mere words on a paper. Memory is a prison.

Therefore, meditation must be treated as a ground for inner enquiry and discovery. It is easy to say there is a God or there is a soul. But has this very discovery been your own? Never be comfortable with any idea. The Truth is never comfortable because it implies knowing which leads to internal growing. Remember, knowing is a verb, it is action. And to know really means you knew. If you know something today then tomorrow it may be something different. Therefore, this means you ‘knew’, you don’t ‘know’ it. You have to think about this. This might sound a little too intellectual but if you let this settle within you, enquire within you, be part of this whole discussion then something great can be discovered. Can you know God? Can you know the Truth?

I shall keep this post nice and small so you may think about it.

My love to all,

Rahul