Thursday 19 September 2019

The Road Back To God Is Not An Easy One

A mistake people who set out on the spiritual path often make is to think that after they've chosen to do so life will be smooth, even full of peace and love. They have turned their face godwards and he will smile on them. Such is far from the case. In fact, if you find it is, you are probably doing something wrong.

Sincere spiritual endeavour often leads to suffering. This is because once you have made the decision to lead a spiritual life, by which I mean not just to believe but actively seek to conform your being to the reality of God, you are accepting that your lower self, the ego-centred worldly me, must be fully converted to truth. This is not done through a simple mental inclination towards spirituality. You should be changing direction at every level of your being, abandoning mental and emotional habits of a lifetime or maybe, if you believe in reincarnation, several lifetimes. This is a hard task, not accomplished without a great deal of work. The suffering involved is that of the old self being burnt away, its ingrained tendencies, desires and fears, being uprooted and tossed on the fires of true spiritual love. 

You think your relationships will be easy and pleasant after you have converted? That is by no means necessarily so. You might be faced with difficult people who bring out the worst in you. That's because the worst has to come out. It won't if you just mix with convivial souls and people who think like you. That might be pleasant but it's not spiritually creative because there's no challenge, no irritation to make the pearl of truth grow within the oyster shell of the separate self.

Peace may be found but it must be an inner peace. Don't expect your outer circumstances necessarily to be harmonious or 'spiritual'. By accepting God you are accepting to be remade in his image. Yes, he made us in his image at the time of our creation but this was a potential not yet realised. Besides, we are certainly not in his image now. The spiritual path is a path of trials and tribulations but it is these that root out the corruptions seated in the soul caused by the ego. 

It is common that those setting out on the path experience uplifting moments at the beginning of their journey. This is to give them strength, to confirm them in their decision to embrace the spiritual life and because of the contrast between their old mind and the new one. But after the joy comes the work and this may last for the rest of their lifetime with no comfort offered. Accept that with happiness. God is paying you the compliment of thinking you equal to the struggle. The rewards after this life will be out of all proportion to the difficulties you may encounter during your earthly sojourn.


S.K. Orr said...

This is superb, not only because of the truth it contains, but also because it's just the sort of thing of which I need to be reminded HOURLY, not daily. Many thanks for posting this, William.

William Wildblood said...

And thank you for your kind comment. I wrote this post because I need to remind myself of it too.

Moonsphere said...

All that you say here is true, William.

The early stages of the path are often easy - the spiritual honeymoon period can last for years. The joy and excitement that comes from an (often sudden) conversion to belief is like catching a free wave that seems to go on forever - an enthusiasm that does not dip or fade.

Until the day inevitably comes when the scales shift, when the joy of pure knowing is equalled then outweighed by the sense of responsibility, of failure and the yawning chasm between mere spiritual knowledge and the true participatory suffering as a striving human being within a vast divine context.

That is when the road proper starts - thank you for such a good description.

William Wildblood said...

Thanks for adding to it. Catching a free wave is a great analogy.

BSRK Aditya said...

The reward of initial successes are more intense then the rewards of later successes. But there is always a reward (less intense then before).

It is important to learn to pay attention to the reward, because that is how one figures out what successfully tames the mind, and what does not. It is like a cook noticing which of his dishes satiate the diner, and which dishes do not satiate the diner. The cook who does not observe this is bound to hit and miss. The cook who does observe this can potentially produce results consistently.

Of course, the low hanging fruits are going to get plucked out. It is necceary to further increase the power of observation, if all evil has not been uprooted.

1) The reason why the mind keeps getting overwhelmed by evil, even though it is resolved on uprooting evil, is because it does not have a source of pleasure that is seperate from that very evil.

2) Feeling sustenance is impermanent. Six kinds of feeling sustenance:
sense-rapture-sustenance, sense-joy-sustenance, sense-equanimity-sustenance,
renounciation-rapture-sustenance, renounciation-joy-sustenance, renounciation-equanimity-sustenance.
From the POV of intensity: rapture > serenity > equanimity. From the POV of purity (ie, is it unobtainable through evil or is it something that can be obtained through evil): renounciation > sense.

3) I as of yet do not know a pleasent abiding that is devoid of feeling. That said, it is my faith that such an abiding does exist. Those who have uprooted a non-trivial amount of evil can see that they do feel with less intensity then before.

Hunger, the problem.
Hunger's end, the solution.

The dish,
after which there is no more hunger,
The greatest dish.

The path to the greatest dish,
to the path that lessens hunger.

As hunger lessens,
the dishes more tasteless.

BSRK Aditya said...

Apologies for double posting.

I left unsaid on how to put my remarks to use. They are possibly too abstract. I'll give tactics that are my first resort.

1) Being sensitive to renunciation-rapture it is possible that one comes to know how to abandon evil & generate good.
2) Being sensitive to renunciation-joy it is possible that one comes to know how to generate renunciation-rapture.
3) Being sensitive to renunciation-feeling it is possible that one comes to know how to generate renunciation-joy.
4) Cutting of renunciation-sustenance it is possible that one comes to know how to generate renunciation-equanimity.
5-8) The inverse is also true. i.e., By abandoning evil & generating good, it is possible that one come to know how to be sensitive to renounciation-rapture, etc.

These tactics fail me now and then, in which case I try something else. They do have a good success rate, and continue to have a good success rate (at my current level of maturity. I do not claim they will work forever).

BSRK Aditya said...

Apologies for the triple post.
The training process is not perfectly smooth. There are setbacks and mistakes. In my own case, as of right now, I am over-pressing sensitivity to renunciation-feeling. I am underutilizing sensitivity to renunciation-joy. Because of this, unpleasant feelings connected with renunciation keep cropping up.
It begins as something akin to a low-key electric shock, and there is an urge to continue pushing forward anyway. If one pushes forward, solid web-like unpleasant feelings crop up. The body heats up.
It is definitely possible to be sensitive of renunciation feeling in an inappropriate way, when one should instead be heedful of the unpleasant renunciation feelings, and correct course.
My mind is unstable, precisely because I am over pushing sensitivity to renunciation-feeling. I am in the process of training how to be sensitive to renunciation-joy, even though that is a more preliminary training I should have ideally completed first. It is certainly the case that, as of right now, it is still possible for evil to overwhelm my mind.
It is also possible to underutilize renunciation-rapture sensitivity. If it takes more than a moment to discard observed evil thoughts, it may be that one is underutilizing renunciation-rapture sensitivity.
When the drawbacks of sensitivity to renunciation-rapture and renunciation-joy are recognized, there is the potential to over correct. One may cuts off renunciation-sustenance too early.

BSRK Aditya said...

Apologies for posting again. It may be that you have moved on, as you have made a new post. Still it may be that it's pertinent.

Minds & bodies are partly merged with the minds & bodies of others. This merge influences us.

There are certain beings who are merged with us, as long as we have the desire, will & mindset to abandon evil & develop good. This is because these beings themselves have the desire, will & mindset to abandon evil & develop good.

There are other beings, some of which delight in "experience" (They do have passions. They are not pure.). When the merge with the above kind of beings occurs, and these beings themselves are also not resolved on right effort - they will no longer be able to experience that merged mind/body.

I posit that maintaining the first merge is a strength equivalent to right effort. De facto, this merge maintainance may end up requiring saying no to the latter merge - i.e, merge with beings who sometimes rightly exert and sometimes not (I say may, simply because they may potentially also come to wish consistent right effort).

I think, friend, that at last, common ground has been potentially obtained, if you agree with my above analysis.

Finally a question: Is the merged body/mind what you term higher/lower selves?