INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
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Open letter to some truth seekers
The Dharma and the experience of a daily spiritual practice determine a true spiritual quest, the one that nobody or almost wants to teach nowadays.
When we really practice spirituality and thus consider to have a spiritual life, understood that spiritual and daily life are not any more distinguishable, it’s not possible to lose ourselves with many meditative techniques, with conceptual if not purely theoretical or dogmatic knowledge and teachings, with metaphysical commentaries coming from different traditions, books and thoughts which will sooner or later contradict each other. We must be able to instantly get back to the basics and have very simple rules and practices, if not only one, that allow the mind to settle down quickly and eventually fade away until the great liberation, that is to say Self-realization, happens spontaneously by itself.
Why? Because the mind is the cause of suffering and not the ego as all the Neo Advaita gurus teach today without even understanding the basic principles of Advaita Vedanta. But this however will not prevent them to teach this sacred knowledge as if they had become honorable Gurus after some kind of spiritual experience. And they will omit of course to mention the name of this knowledge in order to avoid any problem with experts on this matter.
Their experience would apparently have showed them bells and whistles, and especially the "non-duality" of anything because by chance and strangely enough they all have without exception read before or after their experience at least one book of Ramana Maharshi just in order to enrich their teaching or most of the time to simply create it from scratch, as it’s the case of this dear Mooji among many others who plays the role of the guru to perfection in all its splendor and who unfortunately has not understood anything about Vedanta nor the teaching of his Guru Papaji, what seems to be the least of his worry. But the faces of all theses Neo gurus, always smiling, are so cute that we can only forgive them and buy after a lecture at least a few CDs, DVDs and a photo of their portrait in memory of a performance worthy of a clown.
Let’s say very clearly that to create a spirituality based on the annihilation of the ego is utterly absurd and doesn’t match any traditional teaching as Vedanta for instance. “Ahamkar”, the personal identity or ego, i.e. the consciousness of one’s self as a person different from the others, has never been at the origin of suffering and ignorance creating so many illusions. But where, in the Advaita philosophy and other traditional teachings, have these spiritual teachers found that we have to free ourselves from a personal identity absolutely essential to live normally and communicate intelligently? Do they want us to become some kind of zombie? Do you have any idea of what would happen in your life if suddenly you couldn’t refer to yourself and lose the consciousness of your own existence as a person separated from the others? That would be pretty embarrassing to express your own thoughts which of course wouldn’t be any more yours, but the ones of anybody. And what would happen if you feel like to scratch your butt and don’t make any difference with the others? Even a true liberated being would become totally insane and get some serious problems. The liberation these Neo guru advocate looks pretty much like an insane lobotomy as much crazy as their wisdom which doesn’t have any relation with true spirituality.
So what are these essential practices and basic principles of spirituality? You already know them without the slightest doubt, but probably drowned in a mass of knowledge and false teachings far too complicated to be of any use during the everyday life that we all live, including the superstar of the very popular Noe spiritual wave of today.
Ramana Maharshi actually has only taught the Dharma and Vichara, a spiritual technique of introspection that he introduced to people as a simple question in order to be more understandable, this question being "Who am I?". As for Shankaracharya, Gaudapada, Yajnavalkya or Vashishta, this practice is at the very heart of their commentaries on spirituality and of the all Advaita Vedanta. The truth is revealed and realized within ourselves by practicing a Self-inquiry or “meditative introspection” and of course by remaining fully conscious of what is happening inside one’s self. "Chit" in Sanskrit, consciousness, awareness and the ability to be purely conscious, is obviously the fundamental principle of spirituality and self-realization. This is so obvious in every Eastern or Western traditions that we might wonder what would be a liberation or revelation as sublime as it could be without being aware of it.
If awareness and consciousness were not the fundamental principle of all existence, discovery, experience and knowledge, what could it be?
So what really means this “Self-inquiry” and introspection (from the Latin introspicere: insight) called Vichara? We practice it sitting in a comfortable position so as to understand and experience the why and how of this technique extremely simple because there is in fact nothing “to do”, but only “to be and remain fully conscious of it”. And of course we can and must practice Vichara in everyday life, at any moment and especially whenever we remember or in other words, when our attention is not focus on something else, thoughts for instance. Some people call it dynamic meditation, mindfulness, Sati, vigilant attention, etc. Whatever the name, it’s essential to understand that this practice comes down to simply remain aware and so to fully apprehend the presence of our existence as such, that is to say "to discover the plenitude of being", an amazing state of being full and complete everywhere and all the time. That's it as far as the technique itself is concerned. And it's more than enough for a lifetime of spiritual quest. On the other hand, keeping this technique as the main point of our spiritual life will also prevent us to disperse in a multitude of other practices which are not useless, but which will lead inevitably to this meditative introspection and the question “Who am I?”. It's good to discover many spiritual techniques and change of them regularly to better appreciate their quality, but at one point or another, we have to know who is practicing them in order to realize what is the true nature of the one who is supposed to practice? It seems obvious! In Advaita Vedanta and sacred tradition always concerned with the origin and true nature of everything, there is before anything else a lot of common sense.
In this type of introspection totally different than the one practiced in psychology, we welcome every manifestation of the interior life and the external world with a peaceful and very attentive state of mind which especially does not forget the presence of the faculty to be conscious at the very origin of this spiritual quest. We don’t try to prevent thoughts from occurring, sensations and emotions appearing in the mind nor the actions of everyday life to be carried out naturally. Everything is accepted as it is, but with an attention and a state of mind so to speak aware of itself. That's the practice of Vichara which is very simple, easy and to which we can always come back under any circumstanceone of the most important factor in order to spiritualize all our life and the world we live in. The reality of life we experience at every moment is always the most perfect ground on which we can really practice spirituality and search for liberation, and also to challenge and test if this spirituality is really of any use because it is intended to help a living being who usually suffers or at the very least feel deep dissatisfaction in his or her own life. The purpose of our spiritual life is obviously not to improve the quality of the existence of Brahman, the Self or the universal consciousness which already incarnate perfection and eternal bliss and which of course don’t need to be helped nor liberated. No true Guru teaches how to enter into a trance or live experiences more or less mystical if not psychedelic. It is not the purpose of seeking the end of suffering, liberation, self-realization, the experience of non-duality, Sahaja Samadhi or Turya, the so-called liberated state of being. A true Guru is supposed to bring the light of knowledge which dispels the darkness of ignorance. This has nothing to do with Nirvikalpa Samadhi and other mystical ecstasies of this kind.
And life goes on as usual whatever happens ... with or without any peculiar spiritual experience. That’s why this spiritual practice of Vichara as any other must always take place in "the context of the Dharma", that is to say on a right and correct path which helps to accept and live in the reality as it is without lying to ourselves and the others, but especially ourselves for obvious reasons that is not necessary to comment. The subject of this letter is spirituality and self-discovery, spiritual truth and “personal liberation”. It goes without saying that we don’t carry out this kind of spiritual quest in order to free our neighbors from suffering, but if possible to make their life more pleasant and why not to introduce them to spirituality if they are interested, otherwise the golden rule is as usual "the respect for others", one of the main feature of the Dharma, but also of any civilized being worthy of the name.
So to sum up the essential of any true teaching, the basics of spiritual life are in fact extremely simple. In order to spiritualize our own existence, we absolutely need the “Dharma”, a middle way as the Buddha called it, or in other terms to remain just and correct as much as with ourselves than the others and the environment, and we also need a spiritual technique that can be practiced anywhere and at any moment, and that we also have to explore more deeply in moments of perfect peace if possible twice a day, in the morning after waking up and at night before going to sleep. The Dharma and the experience of a daily spiritual practice determine a true spiritual quest, the one that nobody or almost wants to teach nowadays.
The Neo gurus of today prefer to suppress the Dharma and quite often every practice, but especially the Dharma because it is important for their business not to annoy their customers with ethical precepts (a concept virtually absent in every speech) which could disturb their petty mental comfort or with concepts such as kindness and compassion which could also make them forget their narcissistic search for well-being so profitable for the gurus who lead them to it. And this Dharma is of course systematically replaced by so-called Satsang or lectures which are supposed to transmit the Shakti, knowledge or enlightenment called “awakening”, a big word much more vague, but very trendy nowadays. But owing to the fact that all these Neo gurus who always pretend to be liberated are nothing more than pitiful impostors absolutely not free from anything and especially not from hypocrisy, nobody until now has realized the Self and become by some miracle a Jivanmukta, a liberated soul, with such meetings which would be more or less magical as Tony Parsons explains it so well in order to enhance the absurdity of his teaching. But he studied so much the Avadhuta, Ribhu and Astravakra Gita and for so many years without even understanding the basics of this kind of very high teaching that he thinks now to be on the top and even above traditional Gurus as Ramana Maharshi for instance that he loves to ridicule during his Satsang. So what would be left if not to applaud the buffoon who dreams, as he says in an interview, to buy a Lamborghini after having a Porsch? As a matter of fact, what could be more ordinary when you got a guru with 96 Rolls Royce.
The only problem in these Neo Advaita and New Age teachings, very funny and especially profitable for the teachers, but much less for their customers once they understood the scam, is that we cannot practice spirituality and have an authentic and meaningful spiritual quest without the Dharma. It just wouldn’t make sense. Only the "Dharma" gives a true spiritual, ethical and social meaning to a so self-centered and even purely selfish quest for liberation and self-realization, a search which obviously aims at the liberation from suffering of the individual who carries it out, him or her and nobody else. In very simple terms, no Dharma no spirituality and the quest for liberation is just a joke. There is nothing wrong in a search of well-being and psychological balance, but it cannot be considered as spiritual because the aim spirituality goes far beyond right from the beginning.
To take a very simple example to better understand the spiritual context that represents the Dharma itself and its absolute necessity, how could we discover the ultimate truth and thus realize the Self without practicing Satya, truthfulness and sincerity (one of the main topic of the Dharma and only the first Yamas in Yoga), that is to say without sincerely seeking the truth and of course being true to ourselves and the others. Who can really believe that liberation and truth, 2 words with exactly the same spiritual meaning, could be reached by carrying on with lie and deceit in order to satisfy our personal desires? How could we seek supreme spiritual happiness for ourselves and ignore the others? It would simply be a complete nonsense, an absence of equilibrium in our life and the mind that we try, usually during a spiritual life, to appease as much as possible in hope to see it disappearingeven a child would understand very easily without a lot of explanation. But this is what Neo spirituality and the famous “Crazy wisdom” represent today, a spirituality which is indeed a perfect example of “The cult of the ego”, the glorification of the power of the mind and very clearly the stimulation of selfishness, greed and hypocrisy. And this is not trainings of positive thinking which quite often teach how to lose our readyness to criticize and consequently to become a simpleton that are going to help the annihilation of this cult.
Is it necessary to explain that such spirituality leads sooner or later to psychological unbalance and in some cases, depression and suicide, a subject and tiny detail put aside or just ignored by very well informed spiritual circles, but also a problem becoming increasingly common as some psychologists and sincere spiritual teachers realize it when they get patients or disciples mentally sick, psychologically broken or at the edge of suicide after receiving the great teaching of some self-proclaimed Neo gurus very well-known… in particular for the quality of their business and the advertising they make cheaply for themselves on the Web? And what’s about the Neo gurus themselves who see a shrink every week in order to get their dose of serotonin.
This type of spirituality called Neo Advaita or Non Duality comes down to throwing gasoline on a fire in order to extinguish it. And the mind loves fire and it’s quite ready to pay a lot for this kind of teaching which flatters its temper as long as it’s exciting and doesn’t burn too much. But this fire so stimulating for a while with slogans such as “You already are liberated and absolutely perfect. You are pure consciousness, pure bliss and the Divine in person. Spiritual practices are useless because they reinforce the illusory presence of the ego that practices them. Be positive and not judgmental… especially about the teaching. Reality is an illusion or in other words be as you are and who cares…? Your search for selfish well-being is quite natural since everyone is selfish and search for well-being. It’s not your fault and responsibility, only ‘your ego’ is guilty. Traditional spirituality was good for primitive who lived in caves lost in the Himalaya and who of course couldn’t understand anything about transpersonal psychology. Don’t believe your thoughts, they are the thoughts of your ego. Etc.", so this demagogic fire and insane teaching is nothing less than the worst poison presented on a beautiful silver plate as non-duality, evolutionary spirituality or some other names depending on the mood of the guru.
This type of fake spirituality based on absurdities, demagogy and search for self-centered happiness leads indeed the disciples to always more selfishness, greed, hypocrisy and most of all new illusions, the same mental characteristics from which they were already suffering before starting their spiritual quest aiming to purify and especially liberated them from the mind at the very origin of their suffering and ignorance. So we can then safely say that these spiritual seekers went backwards in their search for awakening with this Neo Advaita and New Age teachings. Thanks to the gurus who lead them on this path of liberation, but unfortunately in the wrong direction. Bad luck!
And meanwhile, the spiritual quest of all these nice people has been a very profitable business for the gang of Neo gurus who are always ready to organize with a lot of love and compassion, lectures, courses and retreats of all kinds insofar they provide more narcissistic satisfaction to their customers and who above all wish to sell them as many books, CDs and DVDs as possible, a business which disturbs much less the very meditative life of the guru quietly sitting by the swimming pool or somewhere else and laughing at their own teaching and the naivety of those who follow it. These gurus know very well the true value of the liberation they offer to their customers, the financial value of course.
You have to understand that just one CD or DVD sold several millions of copies, as the international very well-known guru on the Web do it today, brings back to the author several millions of Dollars or Euros multiplied at least by 10, but quite often a lot more (it only depends of the greed of the guru). This kind of spirituality is not a small business for the impostors like Eckhart Tolle who doesn’t hesitate to even ask 150 US$ for listening to his lecture among hundreds if not thousands of other people, Deepak Chopra who became famous with his not so spiritual books on the laws of success and how to stay young, Gangaji, Adyashanti and hundred of other famous charlatans who improvised this non-disturbing spirituality based on positiveness, feel-good techniques, well-being, and in which the customer is always right as long as he or she doesn’t criticize the teaching and point to some nonsense. Their personal wealth obtained from their so-called teaching is estimated at tens or hundreds of millions of Dollars or much more (the magazine "Forbes" values the fortune of the american guru Oprah to a minimum of 3 billion of US$). And let us not forget either a detail which is the height of this business: many Neo Advaita gurus got the teaching they sell by any means and at any prices in the West from other teachings they got most of the time for free in Asia. Thank you to Buddha, Shiva, Ramana Maharshi and Papaji who never asks one cent to his disciples! But the Neo gurus generally prefer now to forget the origin of their knowledge, take down the pictures and don’t even pay tribute to those who provide the essential materials of all their teaching. This prevents their followers from straying too far away from the herd and especially going in the shop of another.
Does this mean that true spirituality is synonymous of hardship, misery, altruism, complete renouncement and austerity, some kind of superhuman asceticism if not pure masochism, otherwise it would not be real spirituality? Does a spiritual teacher have to live barefoot in the street dressed in rags as a beggar and wearing redlocks in a bun higher than the Eiffel tower if he or she wishes to be authentic? So for those who think in simplistic terms and will wonder about this kind of questions, I’d ask them if to be good, respectful and correct in their life and thoughts is a traditional form of torture, if remaining fully aware of themselves, their personal psychology and the world in which they actually live as human being without thinking to be God, Brahman or the Self is an ancient way of suffering, and if facing themselves and the world as it is while practicing Vichara is necessarily a monstrous practice only good for the past.
Hello! Let us be back in the real world and please, open your eyes on the spirituality sold today.