Friday, 5 July 2013

How Do You Do It?

A plaintive cry often heard from those who investigate the kind of spiritual teachings loosely grouped together under the heading of non-dualistic is "I understand what is being said but how do you do it? How do you get from here to there when there seems to be no common ground or connecting link between two states which are of a totally different order of reality?" In this post I am going to answer that question but I must say at the outset that the answer may seem disappointingly mundane. It will be the right answer though.

I must begin, however, by saying that actually this is the wrong question and, if you ask it, you may have set out on your journey facing backwards. That's because such a question implies an aim from the goal-seeking separate self and that, spiritually speaking, is a contradiction in terms hence self-defeating. Therefore the first thing anyone embarking on the path should do is examine their reasons for wanting to do so. In the spiritual world why you act as you do is usually more important than what you do so right motive is critical. As a Master said (his words were used in a different context but are equally applicable here), sometimes it is the will and not the action that counts. You do not advance on the spiritual path because you are able to perform certain difficult exercises effectively nor because of your personal achievements or accomplishments or even insights. Nor yet because of any esoteric knowledge or mind control. No, the prime requisite for spiritual progress is spotlessness of heart. You pursue the path because you long for the Eternal which you recognise as the source and ground of your true being. You do not take to it because of a desire for growth. It is only love for something you acknowledge as being much bigger than yourself that can propel you forwards. Call it God, call it Truth, call it what you like but know that without this intense aspiration towards the divine for its own sake you will not get far.

Now, inevitably our motives will be mixed when we set out on our journey. That is quite normal, indeed unavoidable. But there must be an element at least of 'deep calling unto deep' because this is the only fuel that will give us lift off from Earth. God in us must be calling to God 'out there', and if we lack this pure aspiration we must admit that to be the case and pray for it to be planted in our heart. This is the awakening of the soul without which there is little point in engaging in spiritual exercises.

Here is a list of instructions on how to follow the spiritual path. They are mostly culled from the words of the Masters who spoke to me though these are in no way different to traditional spiritual teachings. The list is not exhaustive but it is sufficient and if you carry these instructions out diligently you will approach your goal. After how long I cannot say and it doesn't matter. The point is, follow these instructions until they are second nature to you and you will forget about your goal. Only when you have forgotten your goal can you begin to come close to it.

Look for God in all things. He is there but you must look behind outer appearance. The Masters told me to regard all people as manifestations of the divine. That is not easy but if we believe that God dwells within us then we must accept that He dwells within everybody else too. Dormant as regards expression, certainly, but the divine light burns within us all. It is our life. Look for it and you may even help to bring it out. Do not make the mistake of regarding the outer person as divine but try to see God in all things and everywhere. The very attempt to do this will change perception and changing perception is what spirituality is all about.

Remember the Creator. Practise the presence of God constantly. Use your imagination to do this while making sure to distinguish between true imagination and wishful thinking or fancy. Imagination is real. Fancy is fantasy. How do you tell the difference between the two? You test using the mind in the heart as your yardstick. I appreciate this might seem a touch vague but constant practice will bring clarity. Remember the Creator through striving to maintain an ongoing awareness of Him, and also through prayer which is the unlocking of the mind that renders it susceptible to higher influences. Try to make your whole life a prayer in the sense of a flower opening up its petals to receive the sunlight.

Be simple. As the Masters say, spiritual truth is simple but it is easy to get lost in philosophical speculations which lead nowhere. Truth is found in the heart not the head.

Form attachments to nothing in this world up to and including your spiritual practice, inner peace and ideas about God. These can all be taken away from you and probably will.

Be unswayed by happiness and suffering, not seeking the one or rejecting the other. Keep an even keel at all times. Have inner poise. The right way is always the middle way.

Have complete acceptance of circumstances and situations in life. Do not resist or react. Resistance and reaction arise from the ego with its likes and dislikes but note that this refers to an inner attitude. Outer behaviour will depend on the needs of the moment.

Do not dwell on the past or anticipate the future. Live from moment to moment. The present moment is all there ever is so try to give it your full attention.

Maintain both inner and outer purity. Purity is required for receptivity to the Divine. Keep your mind free of separative thoughts and your emotions attuned to the vibration of the higher worlds where nothing that does not correspond to those worlds can enter. Act as though you were at all times in the Master's presence because you are. 'We are closer to you than your skin'. At the same time, do not shrink from or disdain what you might regard as impure and profane for you are endeavouring to see all life as one.

Remember that spirituality comes from service and sacrifice. Be alert for opportunity. Cultivate the attitude of I am not the Doer. It is not you who acts but God in you. Of course, that doesn't mean that if you act in an ungodly way you are not responsible for your actions.

Work! Avoid apathy! Apathy, so the Masters informed me, is the besetting sin of spiritual people. It's all too easy for a sensitive nature to retreat into a sort of nebulous 'spirituality' when confronted by the coldness of this world but that won't get us anywhere. A spiritual person is not somebody who believes in spiritual things but somebody who dedicates him or herself to the uprooting of the ego, and that requires serious, hard work. The dragon must be slain. It won't just lie down and go to sleep by itself.

As I warned at the beginning of this post these precepts might sound disappointingly mundane but there is no magical key or hidden teaching that can take you beyond yourself just on its own. Your task is to know yourself for what you truly are and this you can only do by detaching yourself from identification with what you are not, which is the mind. For this, these instructions will certainly help. However, so firmly are we locked into the idea of separation, that such a task is, humanly speaking, impossible and that is why, in the final analysis, even the most diligent spiritual practice can only bring us to a certain point on the path. To go further, to reach its conclusion, we are dependent on divine grace. We can till, water and tend the soil but the flower can only blossom and bloom when touched by the light of the sun.