Thursday, March 1, 2012

What is Spirituality in 2012?

A while ago I posted on my Facebook page that the world of yoga in the West was about to go topsy-turvy, and since then a lot has happened, if you keep up with the yogic ‘scene.’  If you don’t, that’s fine too, for everything is always as it should be, and we only learn of things that are our karma to know about.  Everything else is irrelevant. 

There is not and never has been any chance of any deviation whatsoever from the divine scheme of the unfolding of all things.

The Western world has been under a certain influence since the late 60’s and on through the 70’s regarding what yoga and meditation are, and basically, what spirituality is, as there can be spirituality where no yoga or meditation is required.  Of course, it’s all good and as it was destined to be during that particular period leading up to now.  It’s just that some misconceptions have arisen.

When Ram Dass returned home from India in the late 60’s, and published his famous Be Here Now, he introduced a certain way of seeing and understanding the world and our own life that most of us had never considered before.  He regaled us with stories of his Guru, Neem Karoli Baba, whom he referred to as ‘Maharaji,’ since his Guru, like many great beings, do not care for publicity or even for anyone knowing that they exist or where to find them.  His name became publicly known only after he left his physical body.

Only a handful can truly understand the nature of the great ones, and it usually falls to that handful to teach others the primary principles of Truth to those who are ready to understand.

In the years since there has been a lot of discussion and contemplation regarding who is a true Teacher, and the qualities required of a ‘spiritual teacher,’ for lack of a better term, for in actuality the term means zilch.  A true Teacher will do nothing to attract students or followers.  You will not find his billboard on the highway.  He is not interested in whether anyone is open to his message or not, just as the sun is not concerned with the fact that organic life on Earth is totally dependent on its heat and light for survival.  It all just happens; it is simply the manifestation of Nature as it is.

The truest of Teachers primarily radiate spiritual energy into the ethers that is present for all who are open and receptive to receiving it.  Such beings do not primarily present ideas or philosophies for people to ponder, although being totally free, they certainly can do this if they wish to.  It depends on the nature of their mission.

I have always advised to focus on teachings and not teachers.  No matter how pristine the teachings, the teacher is a human being and can never be anything greater than a human being.  Of course, we might have limited ideas of what a human being can be, yet it has turned out in many cases that should the teacher be ‘too human’—a ridiculous notion—the pristine teachings somehow get soiled themselves. 

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to protect the integrity of the teachings in their own right, and even more important to master the teachings in our own life, so that they are not mere philosophy, or something to 'believe' in, which becomes dogma.  The ‘teacher’ is only the messenger who reminds you what you already know but forgot.

People get very confused regarding what is spiritual and what isn’t, which, when we finally grasp the true Oneness of all things, is a rather absurd consideration, being that everything is composed of the same Spirit. 

In last month’s comments someone wrote:  As a long time spiritual practitioner, do you have a feeling as to whether caffeine is good or bad for someone with an interest in spiritual growth? In looking at your video interview, you are so relaxed it's hard to imagine you've ever had a cup of coffee in your life.

The ‘video interview’ he referred to is my first ‘public appearance’ in 12 years, and is in English with Spanish translations.  The address might or might not come out as a link here, but you can copy and paste and enjoy the video if you like:

I responded, You are right, I've never had a cup of coffee in my life. The reason is that I never liked the smell of it, still don't even like being near it, and I never had the slightest inclination to even take a sip of it.  I don't even like coffee ice cream,

However, this preference has nothing to do with spiritual principles. They always served quite strong coffee in the ashram I lived in for over 20 years. Whether one partakes of caffeine or not, or anything else for that matter, has nothing to do with spirituality.

This is an example of those ‘misconceptions’ we’ve picked up that I referred to earlier.  We superimpose our own prior conditioning upon the principles of Truth—resulting in a world where particular actions or certain substances can be either spiritual or unspiritual, when such a world is not even related to the reality of things, or to the Truth of the Present Moment.

Nothing in and of itself is either spiritual or not spiritual—especially regarding what we 'do.' Anyone who feels guilty for doing something 'unspiritual' has gotten bad information, or has misunderstood the information they got.  We can be remorseful if we have wronged or hurt someone, but remorse is purifying, and a far cry from guilt—which is contracting, and totally alienates us from our true inner Being, which is blameless—neither blames nor accepts blame.

Being 'spiritual' is seeing God's play equally in everything, and seeing everyone we come across as an individual expression or manifestation of Divinity. Being spiritual is loving and respecting all others, and recognizing their oneness, or at-one-ment, with our own inner Self, which manifests in all these bodies and peers from all these pairs of eyes simultaneously.

Being spiritual is recognizing the Divinity of our own eternal Being, and realizing that everything is equally included in the same Divinity.  Nothing can be left out or excluded except for that which does not exist.

Spirituality has nothing to do with what we eat, drink, smoke, or anything else. Such ideas come from old-fashioned and certainly outmoded ideas of spirituality, including the influence of the various orthodox religions that we grew up in and learned our first ideas of spirituality from. In truth, none of the actions of the body taints the indwelling Self to any degree whatsoever. It remains eternally pure and perfect. Certainly moderation in all things is helpful to spiritual growth, for with excesses we can easily become distracted or even drained.

Since I mentioned ‘smoking and drinking—the two ‘sins’ of my teenage years; teens hadn’t quite discovered drugs yet—I should point out that I certainly don’t advocate such things.  I simply recognize that they are part of existing reality.  When we accept something as an aspect of existing reality, it doesn't mean that we condone it.   We simply don't deny it or judge it.  It is what it is.  We might even work to help rid the world of it, but that work is not out of aversion, but simply out of wishing to help create a better world.

Speaking of my teenage years in Mississippi, there was a popular Southern comedian at the time known as Brother Dave Gardner.  On one of his albums he said, “They tell me all the time, ‘You smoke too much!  You smoke too much!  You’ll kill yourself.’  And I tell them, ‘No I ain’t; they might hurt my body but they’re not going to kill my Self.’”

That’s about the way it goes.  Many things might be harmful to the body, yet nothing ever taints the eternally changeless Self, which is our true Nature always.  There is this Sanskrit word, dharma.  In a sense, it means acting in each moment in such a way that is best for all concerned.  So, while nothing in itself is good or bad, there are actions that uphold dharma and actions that go against dharma (adharma.)  One of the highest dharmas is to take care of ourselves—which includes refusing to do anything that is harmful to ourselves or anyone else.

Spirituality has to do with the Light we see inside, and with radiating that inner Light outwardly for the benefit of others around us.  It is a process of allowing our inner Light to shine brighter and brighter, until finally we see it as it actually is and has always been. Spirituality is primarily related to the discovery of our oneness with this inner Light, and has nothing to do with what we do or don't do on a mundane level.

Spirituality is a state of Being; it is not a state of ‘doing.’  It is, if you will, a state of Mind; yet it is beyond thought, which is Mind-in-motion.  Spirituality is being centered in the space between thoughts, which is pure Consciousness, even as we function competently and efficiently in our daily life. 

I learned long ago that I can attend a movie or a party and experience a profound state of deep meditation, while I can sit for formal meditation and experience all sorts of worldly thoughts and feelings.  All is not as it appears to be, and it's definitely what happens on the inside that counts.

Someone else wrote, on the subject of explaining ourselves to others: 'I want loved ones to understand why I did or said what I did, not necessarily to change their position. I want them to get who I am.'

Yes, we are always explaining to others why we did or said what we did, we want them to get who we are. This seems very logical, and like the natural and right thing to do, yet, once again, things are not always as they seem.  There is more going on during every moment of life than ‘meets the eye.’

We offer a Course of Training via email because these particular principles being explored now cannot be learned simply by reading or hearing about them once or twice. We can learn it intellectually from books or articles on the Internet or videos on Youtube or classes, retreats, seminars, and whatever else such things are named, but to get it experientially, where it becomes part of our very being, requires a process of gentle transformation—so that our vision and experience become more refined, more subtle, and so that we come to truly understand what we already know.

Explaining to 'another' happens in duality. It's like explaining ourselves to the mirror. In reality there is only One of us sharing all these various individual bodies and personalities simultaneously, and the play of life happens through the interactions among these individual perspectives.  

There is a certain degree of delusion involved in wanting others to understand why we did or said things. We have a fantasy that if we explain ourselves in the right way, the other will enjoy a thrilling revelation about us that never occurred to them before, and they will finally see us in the right light.

Truth is, 99% if the time they are not interested and could not care less. They'd rather get to explaining to you why they did and said what they did, which is much more interesting to them.

These are very subtle principles we are exploring here, and a glimpse of what we explore in greater depth in the lessons of the course, in an experiential way. With greater understanding and awareness, it becomes intuitively obvious why explaining ourselves has no merit whatsoever.

At one point I referred to several of the comments that served as good examples of how we get lost in details.  People ask questions, hoping to solve problems, and yet they create their own entanglement through their insistence on details.  The details are best handled by Nature, which needs no help from us.

The principle that the entire cosmos exists in absolute perfection includes the perfection of all the karma we have created and must experience (cause and effect.) The divine perfection of all things includes the samskaras, or subconscious tendencies that make us do the things we have long since determined we prefer not to do. It includes the play of ego, which appropriates everything to itself, and thinks it is the body, the performer of actions, the experiencer of feelings, and the thinker of thoughts. Not only that, it assumes that if it thinks something, it must be true.  It also appropriates various karmic happenings as its ‘own life,’ stating, ‘This happened to me.’  In other words, the ego primarily takes everything personally.

All of this is included in the perfection of all things. This is an essential truth to understand. Divine perfection includes the human play in all its angst and folly.

We are pure formless Spirit enjoying a virtual human perspective, to see, for the fun of it, what an individual human life is like. Only we have forgotten that we were playing a game and that we are only having a virtual experience. Now we identify with the character as who we actually are and consider everything in its life to be real. We have totally lost touch with our own Truth—pure, formless Spirit.

This is one reason we offer a Course of Training—to learn the principles (laws) governing the game of human life, and how to learn to play this game well. Once we understand that it is a game, and we learn exactly how to play the game—through understanding natural law—it is then great fun to do whatever is necessary to Master the game.

Don't get lost in details. They will only drain you of energy and enthusiasm. Remain focused on the perfection of your life as it is, and SEE it the way that makes you happy. 'What' you see is determined by your own vision, not the other way around.  The world is created from the inside out, not the outside in.

Remain focused on contentment and fulfillment, and all the details of life will miraculously take care of themselves. This might include you doing what is necessary, yet from a state of contentment, what is necessary becomes intuitively obvious and not something to 'figure out.'

Someone else asked, 'What is it to come into harmony with all things? To see and feel connection in All things, to LOVE and RESPECT All things?'

As you are well aware by now, this is definitely the crux of the matter, and you have stated it perfectly as well as concisely. This is truly the question we all need to ask ourselves.

Anyone reading this believes in 'love' and 'respect' as great principles. Still, all that is important or even relevant is, 'do we go through our day being loving and respectful to each person we come across, including our loved ones, and even including ourselves?

My Teacher taught that the highest sadhana (spiritual practice) is to greet each and every person with great love and respect. This is about what it comes down to.  Yet, we must include ourselves.  We must greet our own inner Self with great love and respect.

Otherwise we can meditate and chant until we drop, we can do devotional rituals for years on end, we can study scriptures until we can no longer see straight, but there has still been no true transformation unless we can recognize the highest in everyone and treat each person we come across with great love and respect—even our husbands and wives, our parents, and our children, as well as the black sheep of the family. In many cases, we ourselves hold this distinction.

Back to the original topic:  What is Spirituality in 2012—it seems to me that more and more we are being guided to turn within, to find the answers to our questions and the solutions to our problems within ourselves, instead of searching outside for someone else to teach and guide us.  Yet I say this with great respect for all the teachers over the years who have inexplicably come along and taught me what I needed to know next.

A true Guru, a genuine Teacher, an authentic Saint, will always tell you to turn within and look to your own Self.  There is such great wisdom that lies innate within us that the ordinary, conditioned mind could never dream of.  That’s why we have to confound, surprise, even shock the mind sometimes—just to get a little freer from it.

The Truth will never be found in facts, or in anything that makes sense to the mind.  Have you ever explained yourself to a baby?  Probably no way the little one could possibly understand what you are talking about, right?  The same principle applies when trying to explain the Truth to the mind, which has a very crude understanding at best.

It is good to understand that what I refer to as Mind is totally different in nature from the conscious, waking mind (manas).  Mind is the origin of the cosmos and of all life and Being, while mind organizes the input of the physical senses into a coherent reality and thinks realities into existence, although for the most part they exist only to the thinker.  The English language is simply not subtle enough to give these two completely different powers or functions different names—which is one reason we often call upon Sanskrit terms for greater clarity of communication. 

This brings us back to what we can’t talk about but can only allude to.  The only Truth there is exists within you, as the Self, as Consciousness, or as pure Awareness of Being.  The Truth is perceived and experienced subjectively, not objectively, not ‘out there,’ bound with ‘others’ somehow.  In the Truth there is only One.  It is eternally changeless, all-pervasive, indestructible, and indivisible.  This is Who we truly are, whether in 2012 or 3012—the inner Self of all remains forever the Same.

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, along with parts A & B of Lesson 1, write: