Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Obstacles and Their Cures: Part-5

Extraordinary experiences: of heavenly kind is just another weapon the Mind uses to distract a seeker. May be it is a side effect of getting aware of the larger universal Mind, and various hidden realms of the Mind start showing up during meditation, or sometimes even in the normal waking state. Initial newbie experiences are typically lights, sounds and bodily sensations. Later on people report a sense of connectedness, infinity, oneness, being the almighty creator of everything, world may start appearing like a dream, aversion from worldly existence, indifference towards daily activities like eating, working or talking to others, so on and so forth.

Well, that sounds like progress, how can it all be obstacles? What happens is, seekers hear about such experiences and immediately judge themselves as lacking cool stuff. I want what the other has – is the feeling and desire. They start hankering after such experiences. They cling to the tiniest of straw if that assures them that they are making progress. They seek confirmation, they brag about their “achievements”. They treat them like trophies or currency in their bank account. They immediately get jealous of those who have more. They look down on those who did not see all those fireworks in the mind. They feel the need to be special. A fancy experience proves for them that they are “enlightened” now, and nothing more needs to be done. Of course, except getting more experiences of “spiritual” type.

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You can obviously see that the above sounds a lot like our familiar Egoic activities. To get more, to hoard more, to be superior, be afraid of losing experiences or of not getting more, suffering because an experience ended or didn’t come back. Most importantly, you can see the immense stupidity. It shows an extreme lack of intelligence and critical thinking. It essentially is ignorance, nothing else. Hankering after fancy experiences or assuming them as the end of seeking is a big obstacle. It will stop you from progressing for decades. You will see that even if you have a huge collection of extravagant  experiences to show off, you are not really happy, you are not really free, and you know nothing much.

What is the cure? Remember that your goal has to do with the experiencer, not the experience. Experiences, however extraordinary, amusing or funny they look, are impermanent, they come and go like clouds come and go in clear blue sky. Fancy experiences are just rearrangements of the mental structures, you can learn from them, get some deep insights, and then you need to move on. Everyone has their unique mental structure, and hence everyone will have unique experiences. So you will have the exact same experience as your seeker friend, if and only if the structures match exactly, which is rare, you see, not probable at all. By chance, you may get something similar to someone else who is reporting from across the globe, but he will interpret it very differently, and it will mean totally different for you. You can’t conclude too much. Clearly, some will not see any firework displays, their structures are clean and clear, they simply know, they experience things in a plain way. This has an advantage that they do not confuse the experience with anything special, they see the real special thing that is behind everything, directly, clearly and plainly, which is – the Self.

Extraordinary experiences are fun and a great learning opportunity, but one must use them and discard them, they do not last anyway, or you become conditioned into them, they lose novelty quickly. If a state or experience becomes too pronounced, so that it is interfering with your normal life, seek help and wait for it to be over. Check out the masters, they went through a lot, but are just like ordinary people now, except they learnt valuable things. Nothing lasts long.

Grandeur, megalomania and worshippers: become a problem for those seekers who are abnormally extroverted and cannot let go of the Egoic tendency to feel superior to others, do “good” for others or save the world. Worshippers or fanboys add to this mess. The result is that the seeker spends his life preaching stuff and throwing his weight around in the crowd of worshippers. Practice is obviously most boring thing now, and since he has gained everything, had every kind of experience, and knows answers to all questions, there is no need to practice anymore. Who needs practice, when money, pretty female followers and fame is pouring on you like rain.

Popularity, your need to fix others and the world, the long list of to-do things and incessant noise of worshippers effectively kill your progress. Instead you fall into the menial job of gathering followers, advertising how great you are, counting money, manipulating people, politics and stupid power games. Worshippers are quick to set up a cult, and some of them will appoint themselves on top positions and control who can gain access to their lord, and who cannot. They set up elaborate schemes to earn money by hook or crook. They abuse people, spread rumours, and generally manage to make newspaper headlines. The megalomaniac seeker soon acquires enemies, because other power seekers can’t stand a new competitor in the arena who is pouching away their own followers and hence wealth, fame and supply of ladies. They set up traps, you fall from grace and everything ends up in a mess.

How can that even happen? Obviously, it’s an Ego trap. Such seekers are still in the jaws of Ego. The fruits of practice will make you wiser than people around you, your advises are clear and effective, your words are pure knowledge, your actions are a perfection. This starts attracting other seekers, and they approach you for advice. You feel nice that you are helping, teaching and spreading knowledge, which this world desperately needs. So far so good, until Ego takes over and you end up in above scenario.

How to prevent it? Be a humble student always. Suggest answers, do not preach, take no responsibilities. Help fellow seekers as much as possible, and then leave them on their own. Do not organize teachings, truth cannot be organized, if you do that it becomes a dogma, a religion. The dynamics of how that can happen are time consuming to discuss, but probably you know how. It does happen that all knowledge gets corrupted as soon as it is set into an organized form. You won’t be here to fix the mess your teaching will cause.

Does it mean I cannot share my experiences, my knowledge, new information etc? Obviously, it doesn’t mean that. I’m doing it myself, I spend a few hours everyday spreading stuff into the web. Most of it falls on deaf ears, but once in a while, a few words here and there open up a mind, ease a doubt, answer a question for someone who is seeking. If a person is ready, he will instantly get what you are saying. If he is not ripe enough, there will be no effect however hard you try to teach, it may backfire and that chap will get repulsed or feel insulted. You should be very careful in correcting others, pointing out their flaws, especially when they are not asking you to. People do not like it.

That said, teaching can be a good way of knowing. When you teach, The BS you had unknowingly acquired, reveals itself. If you have made teaching your path, your career, then I have no suggestions for you. I’m only a student, I do not write manuals for teachers. You are doing something great, something impossible, so I have great appreciation for all the teachers, who are selflessly serving others. If you are a seeker, trying to take up teaching, then ensure that you have a permission to teach. If you do not have a master, who can permit you, then you must do a self-evaluation. See how your Ego is doing, is this desire out of Ego or you really want to serve? You need to show your superior knowledge to others and gain their favour or you just want to drop hints here and there and help those who ask for help? It is more complicated than that, my experience is almost zero here, so please consult an experienced teacher before you start. Most importantly, be extremely aware and ensure that your teachings don’t affect your own practice, or don’t turn you into a tyrant, or that your followers don’t go rogue.

Traditions: can become a limitation. No doubt traditions are good, institutions and organizations for seekers have their value, but they also have a dark side, they can halt your progress or worse, turn you into a cult follower. For a new seeker, traditions are very useful, they provide a systematic way, they provide a path, they are well arranged and have nice terminologies and theories/models of their own. This assists in grasping difficult concepts. The residential programs provide a friendly and disciplined atmosphere, keeping you away from the worldly distractions and petty responsibilities. The people around you are mostly like you, and do not challenge your Ego into a battle everyday. Its all heavenly, if you see the positive side. (Ashram literally means a shelter, a place to rest).

So how does that turn into an obstacle? It happens once you reach the limit of what the tradition can teach you. It can also happen when the practice is not suitable for you, your mind and body do not cooperate or resonate with it. It can also happen if the teachings have rotten and time has left them as half digested matter. It can happen when the tradition is dying, the teachers merely perform the ritual of teaching, they do not have the real embodiment of the original knowledge, especially if the founder is already dead hundreds of years ago, and there is no hope of correcting it or reviving it. There can be more reasons which eventually make a tradition useless.

However, the most common reason is the Ego of the seeker itself. “My tradition is bigger than your tradition” – type of wars are very common. The seeker gets obsessed with the tradition, becomes religious about it, defends it or clings to it. All signs of Ego enslavement. It doesn’t matter what the teachings say, perhaps they are of the highest order, it’s the attitude of the seeker that ruins his progress. He cannot let go of the comfort and “superiority” his tradition provides. The fact is that a tradition is not the path, it’s a tool to help you on a path.

How to get rid of traditions? Use them as a tool, do not get used by them. They are for your service, you are not there to serve them. If you do feel like serving a tradition, ensure that its not because of Egoic desires, fears and ambitions, and you do see some value in them. The service, by definition should be selfless, in other words, you should not get anything from it, you should lose a lot of burden of Ego instead.

When you find that the tradition is not answering most of your questions, the answers lack a life and look like parroting, when you get sick of the ongoing politics and games there, when you find that you are not learning anything new there, your progress is halted, when you find that its all too limited, you feel bound, not free, when you find all these, its time to leave the tradition.

Once you get the feel of a tradition or two, its highly recommended to remain tradition-less. Be free, be open to accept any useful teaching. The source doesn’t matter, only thing that matters is that you are progressing. Things like scriptures, theories, myths, terminology, culture, language, country or which deities they worship are least important on your path, your happiness, knowledge and freedom are most important.

Here ends the discussion on obstacles. There can be more, but you get the point. If there is an obstacle, there is a way around it. The obstacle is you, and the cure is you. I hope you enjoyed reading it and some of it will be of some use for you. All the best :)

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