Friend: Recently I have been thinking a lot about something that you said to me some time ago - that in our spiritual practice, we cannot skip the level of the person. Within the teachings of Bhagavan, I perceive different levels of expression of truth, so to speak. At the highest level, or the more absolute level, there definitely is no person, everything is God, everything is predestined, everything is perfect. However, can we honestly say that we only live at this level? I know I can't claim that myself. Much of the time, I do seem to be existing in the world as a person, making choices, trying to do the right thing.
I have also experienced some moments of that higher reality, and that was very beautiful. I aim for that, and over time I certainly hope to establish myself more and more in that. But I believe it is a gradual process, and in the meantime, I do the best I can to make the right choice and to set the person as right as I can, so to speak.
I know that many people within the community of Bhagavan disagree with me on this, and think that I am wasting my time by paying any attention to the level of the person because it is ultimately not real.
When I speak to the people in the group about it, they say that I am doing the wrong thing by paying attention to this level at all and that I should just forget the whole thing and turn within.
Reinhard: This point you bring up is of greatest importance. Let’s see it simply: would Bhagavan have ever spoken or taught if ’no one' was sitting in front of him, asking for guidance?
This is a clear water divide between what I like to call 'head-advaita‘- a religious and philosophical dogmatism with little bearing on what we actually live.
The way I approach this is a 'bottom-up-approach‘: beginning with the level of your experience and aiming at the Highest. A ’top-down-approach’ is also needed- that is the teachings, as they are written in the books.
But to claim these concepts without the experience of samadhi is just dry conceptualism! As I was always interested in REALIZATION rather than mere adoring Bhagavan emotionally and philosophizing, I had to ask myself and the students that I worked with, what they could realize in their own experience.
The beauty is: DHARMA is universal and also universally present, whether we are enlightened or not. This was stated by Bhagavan repeatedly. So in my Satsang, I emphasize this beingness and awareness, using the thoughts and emotions like trees on the roadside that help to point out the way the road takes.
We just had a weekend retreat and I can’t describe properly the power and joy of contemplating this dharma directly in our experience!
Not many people are interested in real sadhana! They like to enjoy philosophical concepts and emotions. Annamalai Swami called these people ’ticks’: they do not drink the milk of the cow but suck their blood. To actually sit down and meet your own mind is quite a task and it needs proper understanding and a lot of persistence, as we both know.
The people you mention who say that you 'should forget and turn within' probably have never done so seriously!! Because if you do, a tremendous task will be revealed: to truly surrender the inner forces to the Self! Bhagavan once expressed this, saying: If you want to regain the natural state, a tremendous fight is inevitable.
The American teacher Adyashanti used a very fitting term (coined by the late Buddhist psychologist John Welwood) for our discussion. He said if people try to jump over personal issues and fixate on spiritual concepts that is ’spiritual bypassing’. Of course, is the personality ultimately not real but it is also the only point of focus for spiritual practice! If we willfully ignore the personal reality it has nothing spiritual but is a form of escapism and harshness.
Only when we deal with personal issues for their own sake, seeking to gratify desires, again and again, it is a waste of time. Bhagavan compared this with the vain effort to quench a fire with kerosene. But if a desire, for instance, is sensing the silence of Being, it will naturally seek that rather than acting out on its own level. That is also what Bhagavan taught.
Words can be used in different shades of meaning. But if someone lives with love and awareness, free from suffering, this speaks for itself. That his why Christ said,
'By their fruits, ye shall now them.‘
He did not say by their words.