Instant Enlightenment – Other Factors

Yesterday, I discussed whether instant enlightenment was a myth or not. Summing it up in a couple of sentences, it is a gradual process that needs time, discipline and effort. Nobody gets enlightenment just because they recognize the Truth, it is much more than that. It simply is when you become the Truth.

There are two other factors that I thought about when it comes to the topic of instant enlightenment that people from the neo-advaita scene or neo-bhakti movements can counter argue with me. That is the Guru and/or Grace. These two factors may have a great impact on a disciple. So let’s explore this together and see if Guru or Grace causes instant enlightenment.

The Spiritual Guru

What is the role of the Guru? What is the impact of having a Guru? Is it enough to be without a Guru? Does our whole life need to center around the Guru? This is dependent on the seeker and their experiences. Here, I will discuss my views and responses to those questions.

The role of the Guru is to simply show the way, give the pointing, pass on the mantra or give the initiation. They can guide but they can’t walk the path for you. You have to respond to your own calling. The role of the Guru is also very personal. We need guidance in our day to day life because we live in the world, we have a family, we have a job or business, we go to school or college. We may need help on how to interpret the teachings according to our living experiences or need guidance during a difficult time. It is the Guru that will offer guidance but again, their role is to give you the path to enlightenment, whether it is instant or not, is dependent solely on the seeker and their readiness.

The impact of the Guru depends on how much they are invested in your spirituality. If it is simply listening to sermons or reading their books, there is only a certain impact that the Guru will have. If like I mentioned before, the Guru guides you during difficult times, the Guru is there for you, the Guru supports you very personally, the impact will be strong. Whether it is a positive or negative impact again is dependent on the seeker. From the genuine Gurus that I know, they seek to take you away from conflict. They will never break a family, gather money for their personal gain or control your lifestyle. They offer a path to you but don’t demand you to walk the path. They are both involved but also take a step back at the same time. They offer the seeker the freedom to act.

Can we advance in spirituality without a Guru? I don’t know but I have hugely benefited from having a Guru that was there for me and who guided me personally with my spiritual journey. If I was feeling helpless with a spiritual conundrum, it helped me immensely to have my Guru’s guidance. Sometimes, it was knowing that I had someone to fall back on during difficult times that gave me the strength to advance spiritually. I know some friends who do not have a physical guru but to be honest, they may follow the teachings of someone that lived in the previous century or thousands of years ago. We all have someone that inspires us, so their guidance is great. The more personal, the better.

So does our life need to center around the Guru? No, it doesn’t have to center on the physical being of the Guru. Not at all. We are to enjoy the presence of the Guru whenever the opportunity arises. We are to take advantage of this for sure. However, there needs to a life centered on the Teachings. My Guru would give the biggest smile if I told Him about how a particular teaching helped me. This gave Him more joy than simply following Him wherever He went or even praising Him. It is important to have the presence of the Guru but priority is with the Teaching.

I know some friends, who are devotees to different gurus and have become disenchanted. They followed someone and then found that their Guru did not live up to their title, they came across someone who was greedy, angry, or extremely controlling and authoritarian. However, those very friends tell me about how the teachings of the Guru helped them but they simply couldn’t follow that guru again with the same devotion to the physical form.

Concluding all these questions, instant enlightenment may not be given by having a Guru or being in the presence of the Guru. It is following the Teachings that bring a gradual growth that can lead to enlightenment. Sometimes, it is the silence of the Guru that helps and we find the answers to everything within because that Presence guides us to find our own inner Guru. The Teaching has to be Supreme and maybe when we consider this, enlightenment can be instant as an Inner Guru will always be there for us.

Grace

Grace is help by some divine intervention. Out of nowhere, we find that somehow our spiritual growth has increased tenfold and we can’t explain how. This genuinely happens and I have found that in my own life and experiences that some things are unexplainable when it comes to excelling spiritually.

Grace is like being dependent on chance. If you receive it then you are lucky. If you don’t then you are not so lucky. If you are a good devotee then you may get grace or you may not. There is no definitive way to attain Grace and that is the biggest argument against it in causing instant enlightenment.

However, Grace can be interpreted as the culmination of practice. The more sincere we are, the more honest, the more we apply the teachings, the more we feel that element of Grace assisting us.

I do believe Grace helps but it isn’t something that provides instant enlightenment. Grace does give you awakenings or satoris but that is it. That internal movement towards enlightenment can be called grace but again, momentum is only achieved through practice.

Practice is the answer

As we have briefly discussed the role of the Guru and the role of Grace, as much as they may be beneficial, I am doubtful that they cause instant enlightenment. I doubt the first look of the Guru will cause instant enlightenment. I doubt that Grace appears and you are suddenly enlightened.

Guru’s presence and the concept of Grace are necessary to help progress in your spiritual journey. Sometimes accepting experiences as an element of Grace helps to keep the momentum going without getting into the details. Sometimes, it is easier to explain such experiences as Grace and it definitely helps us to avoid spiritual pride and grounds us to humility. Which is beneficial for effective spiritual practice.

Also, there is nothing bigger than the Guru’s Teachings. Every scripture is the Guru and every physical presence that helps you spiritually is the Guru. We are to commit to the Teachings, yet enjoy the physical presence of the Guru. Infact, the Guru’s Teachings awakens the Guru within you. This is available to everyone and it is something great sages like Ramana Maharshi attest to.

The more we practice the Teachings, the more clarity we get. The better clarity, the more we are open to enlightenment happening in a more gradual, consistent and grounding way.

J Krishnamurti – A Biography by Pupul Jayakar

Last night, I finished reading J. Krishnamurti: A Biography by Pupul Jayakar and I really enjoyed the great thoughts of this phenomenal mystic. I was introduced to Jiddu Krishnamurti (JK) through Osho, who deeply respected JK and I feel Osho propagated JK’s teachings in his own wonderful way too. However, it was my late Pritam Uncle ji who had asked me to read this book.

Pritam Uncle ji was an enigma to be around. I met him for the first time in 2014 and I will never forget his eyes that seemed to look right into my soul and a smile that emanated warmth. Whenever he spoke, he would speak of total awareness and how to really know our true self. He told me that only I could get there, no one else can help. He gave me three books and two of them were of JKs. One is the biography and the other one is the First and Last Freedom – which I am currently reading.

I wondered why my Uncle would ask me to read JK as I felt I couldn’t intellectually understand him back in 2014. But today, the teachings seem to make sense, I am able to follow them and even meditate upon them.

I strongly recommend the book if you want to know about the philosophy of J Krishnamurti and the life that he lived. From advising Prime Ministers, to discussing philosophy with scientists and most of all, he inspired many people like Bruce Lee, Aldous Huxley, Satish Kumar and I know Alan Watts loved him.

I want to share a few learnings from the book that really stood out to me and I hope you will like them too:

  • For the mind to be creative, there must be stillness. A deep stillness that can only come into being when you have faced your loneliness.
  • Only a total, non-fragmented perception can negate the observer and the observed. The seeing of “what is,” is the transformation of “what is.”
  • The mind which is the vessel of movement, when the movement has no form, no ‘me’, no vision, no image, it is completely quiet. In it there is no memory. Then the brain cells undergo a change.
  • In silence what is there to experience? Silence can only experience silence. Can silence leave an imprint?
  • There is an experience of silence and the mind remembers the feel, the perfume, the essence.
  • “If you knew that you were about to die, what would you do? Can you live one hour completely—live one day—one hour—as if you were going to die the next hour? But if you die so that you are living fully in this hour, there is enormous vitality, tremendous attention to everything. You look at the spring of life, the tear, you feel the earth, the quality of the tree. You feel the love that has no continuity and no object. Then you will find in that attention that the ‘me’ is not. It is then that the mind, being empty, can renew itself.”
  • ‘Nothing’ contains the whole universe. Not my petty little fears, anxieties, sorrows. After all, Pupul ji, ‘nothing’ means the entire world of compassion. Compassion is ‘nothing’, and therefore that ‘nothingness’ is supreme intelligence.
  • We offer a hundred commentaries but the actual fact is, we are ‘nothing’ except a lot of words. Can one grasp that the zero contains all the numbers? So in ‘nothing,’ all the world exists.
  • We have all been trained to be highly intellectual. A poor man who does not seem bright, he will understand a simple statement.

The above are a few words which I wanted to share and there are many many more. The greatest thing about Krishnamurti was that he never wanted to be a guru and never acted like one. It was in the book that whenever someone would touch his feet, he would touch theirs too. I found this beautiful and humble of him.

Another teaching of his that really captured my attention was that he talked about how memory doesn’t allow us to be totally aware of ‘now’, of the present moment, of ‘what is’. We cling to a past, to an image that may not have been there at the time. We could have manipulated it even if it was a pious memory. Krishnamurti guided that in order to have a clear mind, it was important to let go of memory. I find this to be true when I think deeply about it. I hold onto the memories of people I have worshipped but they are no longer here. I cannot physically perceive them and if I do, it is through a photo. Therefore, the journey is one that I have to take alone. I can respect the past but I cannot live in the past.

It is a wonderful book and one that I definitely recommend.

Mirages and Spiritual Awakening

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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.