Why does the spiritual path not seem to work? Followers of different gurus or traditions might get upset by this statement as they try to convince others, and above all themselves, that they are benefiting and progressing spiritually. But is it really true? Having been deeply involved in many traditions and lived among various ‘gatherings’ of seekers, I have not seen anyone who is really awakening or evolving. On the contrary, I have seen people getting worse, becoming more messed up, more confused, more deluded and, above all, more lost. Human beings have mastered the art of living in denial and when that line is crossed, innocence is lost; there is no more space for questioning things and the mind becomes a wall. The human psyche, in order to cope with constant uncertainty and fear, has developed all kinds of strategies to protect itself with an armor of self-deception. However, there are those few who still have enough honesty and sincerity to question their spiritual reality and enough courage to acknowledge the fact that after many years of being on the path they are stagnated and that nothing has fundamentally changed. They were, are and remain lost.
During the many years of my personal quest and many years of teaching, I have not met a single person who really had a clue what awakening means. For instance, I have met thousands of seekers, and many teachers, who spoke about ‘consciousness’ and yet not a single one of them really knew what they were talking about. I have met seekers who after many years on the path did not even know that consciousness is realized in the headspace! There is no teaching that is able to pinpoint the difference between the consciousness of me and the higher consciousness of the soul, between awareness and consciousness. How could they? They do not understand what ‘me’ – the very one who is seeking – is. Instead, they have generically called it ‘ego’, hated it, foolishly negated it or tried to get rid of it.
We have all heard the cliché countless times, repeated over and over like a broken record, that consciousness is ‘everywhere’ and therefore cannot be located in the body. But what is actually being said is that consciousness is nowhere, because those who adhere to this belief are not truly conscious. They live in a spaced-out, subconscious state of mind that has been programmed into a certain Advaitic belief system. Moreover, to believe this statement is to not see the fundamental difference between universal existence and the realization of our higher being, our soul. Without seeing this difference, the nature of the spiritual path cannot ever be grasped. Cheap teachings speak about presence, being, consciousness and the now. They hypnotize the mind with empty words which carry no meaning, because the intelligence behind them is locked in the mental construct: it thinks it is experiencing reality but it is still experiencing itself. The mind is desperate to experience something beyond itself, but it cannot access it. That is its tragedy – it has no way out of itself. It is this kind of nonsense that distorts the very essence of the spiritual path. Is this really the golden age of spirituality? If ignorance is gold in color, it is indeed the golden age.
What is awakening? What types of awakening are there? How does awakening affect our human nature, our emotions and desires? Is awakening the end or just the beginning? What are the false awakenings, the altered states of mind or consciousness that not only do not point to our pure nature, but take us even further away from our soul?
This article is directed at those who have a certain requisite spiritual maturity. The majority of humans are too young spiritually to walk the path to self-realization. Theirs is the path to becoming true human beings, to purify their psyche, heal their neurotic tendencies and learn how to love. The spiritual path, the path to awakening, is the path which goes beyond the construct of our psychological identity in order to realize our original nature. This should not be confused with renouncing our humanity or renouncing the joy, beauty and sadness of human existence. Rather, it is about realizing our higher being, our soul, and then living as a true human from that deeper dimension of light and consciousness. Needless to say, very few have this longing and even fewer have the capacity to go beyond the construct of their human identity.
The question is: Is this global condition of being lost a result of the fact that spiritual goals are objectively so difficult to reach? Or is it because of the low quality of teachings and the incompetency of teachers? We can blame seekers or we can blame teachers, but in the end both are responsible. The teachers who deceive others through their promises of awakening that are never delivered, other than by creating hypnotic states of mind, could not exist without those who want exactly that – to live in hope, to live in another illusion, to live in a lie. No one is a victim; everybody is responsible for what they receive from life.
A spiritual guide is not superhuman. He or she is someone who has mastered the realm of awakening, who understands the nature of the path and who has the ability to share this realization conceptually and energetically. A spiritual guide is someone who can directly awaken the seed of higher consciousness within a seeker who is ready to meet their true self. Many teachers, especially from the so-called non-duality movement, base their ‘teachings’ on disciple-guru dependence. They cannot do otherwise because they do not teach a path; they do not offer any tangible tools through which a seeker can efficiently assist himself in his evolution. Some of these teachers propagate the notion that there is no such thing as evolution, that all one has to do is realize that one is already awakened. Such teachers are not only deluded and lost themselves, they are dangerous. By using the concept of awakening in such an irresponsible way, rather than helping people they add yet another layer of ignorance, taking seekers even further away from the truth. Sometimes it is better not to enter any path than to enter a path that leads in the wrong direction. Similarly, it is often better not to teach if one is not complete and doesn’t really know what one is doing, not only out of respect for others, but also out of compassion for oneself.
Moreover, there are teachers who offer countless practices or methods – mantras, koans, chakra work, practices of mindfulness and whatnot – which keep seekers in a limbo of hope that one day awakening will come to them as the natural outcome of their diligent efforts. And yet nothing comes, except perhaps a distortion of perception, a result of chemical changes in the brain caused by artificial practices and general hopelessness. Alternatively, there are those who present the concept of devotion and prayer as an answer, promising the miracle of transformation will come from a merciful source of grace descending from the higher plane into our miserable existence. But does it really happen? Holy water cannot fill a broken vessel. There is nothing wrong with prayer; in fact it has an important place in our relationship with the divine, but it is certainly not a solution for living in the state of ignorance. Taking the path of devotion to an extreme amounts to refusing to take responsibility for finding one’s own power and light within. The spiritual path in this dimension is like ‘Waiting for Godot’. Waiting can become a lifestyle, but since Godot never comes, this waiting is nothing but wasting time.
Whether one likes it or not, the spiritual path is complex, because human beings are complex and the state of ignorance has many layers which obstruct the possibility of actualizing our spiritual potential. In addition to the issue of complexity, there is that of the spiritual maturity of seekers and the competency of those who feel confident enough to take the role of teachers, guiding others on the path. The ability to discern the competency of a teacher is directly related to the maturity of a seeker and his inner experience.
Nowadays, there are all kinds of silly guru ratings. But what are they based on exactly? The popularity of a particular guru among the mass consciousness of seekers? The number of followers? The absence of sex scandals? The number of books sold? How high they appear on a Google search? The personal preferences of the ‘expert’ who decides how many stars to put next to their name? Being part of ‘respected’ traditions? Having had one’s name established? Many of those teachers claim that their guru has approved their awakening. But even if they did so, how can you know what the level of realization of that guru is? Perhaps he himself was a disciple of an even more famous guru, so famous that doubting him would amount to blasphemy? In the kingdom of the blind it is easy to put one’s trust in someone who has the ability to see anything at all.
Most seekers who are lost deserve to be lost because they do not strive uncompromisingly for truth. They are content hanging around teachers who do not give them any real transformation. Being part of a spiritual club, having spiritual friends, living in hope, being addicted to energy experiences – this is what makes them happy. Let them live the life they chose. However, there are those few who seek from the heart of their very being and yet still cannot find the answers, because no one has them. Why has existence let them remain lost? Perhaps they do not seek hard enough? Perhaps they compromise too much? Or perhaps this is the nature of this reality – that truth is concealed and often we must bleed for it to reveal itself.
The purpose of this article is not to give easy answers but to awaken the seeking intelligence from existential torpor, to awaken a passion for understanding and ignite the spirit of rebellion against living in the prison of the low level of understanding that spiritual teachings offer. There is more truth out there, hidden and waiting to be discovered. But a man or woman, one who has enough integrity and who carries the intensity of the spirit of quest, needs to come and knock on that door. Is there anyone standing in front of that door? Start knocking – knock, knock, knock…
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