Monday, December 31, 2007

Spiritual REAL-ization

Many people talk of spiritual realization - seek it, treasure it, even speak as if they have 'achieved' it, but often it is not REAL-ization, but rather a form of spiritual MENTAL-ization or INTELLECTUAL-ization. The key facet of REALization is the word REAL. It is a concrete recognition, not simply a mental or intellectual understanding. Now, I am not demeaning a mental or intellectual understanding of spirituality or Truth, but only wish to make the distinction clear.

Let me give a couple of my common examples. First, nearly anyone who has ever had a child knows that there is a HUGE difference between thinking about having a child and actually conceiving and giving birth to one. When you look down at your own child, lying there, alive, virtually helpless, and squiggling, you know...YOU KNOW... that your life will NEVER again be the same!

Or, going to India. Many people know far more about India than I do. They can name every sacred site, teacher, language spoken, etc. They can even relate to you about Indian tastes, smells, congestion, traffic, pollution, politics, etc. But until you have been there, until you have deeply inhaled the smells and tasted the flavors, seen the garbage and the drab and the brilliant colors, it is only a mental picture. You have not LIVED it.

Spirituality is the same. A mental or intellectual understanding of spirituality, while a wonderful thing, basically comes down to what my spiritual master called, "armchair philosophy," or what many would today refer to as being "Unable to walk the talk."

The importance of making this distinction can be clearly expressed in the first lines of the Tao Te Ching - "The Tao that can be spoken of is NOT the eternal Tao." Now, that doesn't mean that one stops talking about it. The Tao te Ching, after saying this, goes on for 81 verses describing the Tao, what the 'superior' man or woman is, their symptoms, and so forth. But even memorizing the entire Tao in the original language won't guarantee that you will make it REAL or live it.

The sad result of only a mental or intellectual understanding is that a person often stops 'doing'anything to really understand and recognize the Truth. It's a sort of "Been there...done that" approach, and so they go on to look for other things to take up their time and entertain them, hoping that Realization will drop on them like a ripe fruit (which it could, but don't hold your breath).

In India, the term for spiritual practice is sadhana. The root is sadh which means to go straight to any goal or aim, to accomplish, to succeed, as well as to MASTER, SUBDUE, CONQUER. This is not always pleasant work, and the very ‘yogic term’ tapas, or tapasya, which comes from the word “to heat” suggests the nature of it. Burning away one’s impurities and karmas is not necessarily always pleasant. While it’s true one can have a path ‘with heart’, that doesn’t always mean (and generally DOESN’T mean) that it will be easy. Burning off all that crap can be a difficult and messy affair, but what are the alternatives?

It is a fine line…Often it feels like you shouldn’t try “too hard”, that realization should be a natural thing, which it is. But on the other hand, if you don’t ‘do’ anything, nothing happens. The main thing to remember is that it is NOT so much a doing, as a shift in Awareness, a perceptual shift, a turning attention “inward” or “heart-ward” or God-ward. And then KEEPING it there, as much and as continuously as possible. Spiritual mastery is about actually making that shift, making spirituality REAL, and not just mental or intellectual. Moment by moment… hour by hour… day by day, until “YOU” are no longer practicing. IT is simply happening. That’s the key.

And by the way...Have a great switch from one arbitrarily created time frame to another
(i.e. Happy New Year!)

Infinite Love & Blessings!