Thursday, May 29, 2008

Father Knows Best OR What happened to God? OR Just What IS Enlightenment?

I have often spoken of the necessity of community to foster a sense of belonging. Too often, those seeking Awakening are mired by their own sense of not-belonging and generally speaking, the traditions of Enlightenment have come through cultures that have had a strong sense of community or tribe or belonging on one level or another.

But I've recently realized something else that amazed me. Many people are looking for spirituality WITHOUT God. Not that it isn't possible, but it is, to a large extent, the norm these days. Understandably, God has a bad rap. People see God or at least the word 'God' as representing a more Judeo-Christian old judgmental man in the sky kind of thing. This is a concept, and the concept must be let go of, but that doesn't negate the Reality which it represents. You may let go of your issues with your father; break away from him as a parent figure; etc. but that doesn't mean he stops existing. Or another example, in Vedanta, they often talk about confusing a rope for a snake, meaning to confuse the material for the spiritual. You can recognize that the snake is an illusion, but that doesn't make the rope disappear as well.

You can say, "I surrender to What IS" but What IS is God, the creator, the source, the absolute, Brahman, the Infinite Presence, etc. If you have issues with one or another of the 'words' used to describe that, you have issues. Preferring one or another word is fine, just like in Hinduism, they have 'Ishta Devatas" - one's chosen form of the beloved. But it is recognized there is NO distinction between them ultimately... God/Goddess/All That IS.

Nowadays, the tendency for Militant Me-ness and Radical Narcissism has created a generation to which the understanding of "I am God" is backwards. They want their Ego to be recognized as the infinite absolute. "I am God. Worship ME!" So, words like 'God', 'Surrender', and 'Humility' have become dirty words. It's all about how "I" can get everything for "ME" including Enlightenment. A Fool's Fancy!!!

"I am God" means truly that God is this 'I'. This me-ness is a spark of the fire, a thread of the carpet, a wave of the infinite ocean. And it is the letting go of, the surrendering of, the humility to drop this ego and enter fully into the Infinite Absolute that comprises the ever-expanding field of Awakening, not just "Oh Cool, I (the subtle ego) am God."

We are rambling a bit here, but thanks for bearing with me. One of the things I noticed about neo-advaita teachers and teachings in the very lack of the recognition of a Higher aspect of Reality. Few express this. Many don't even know this. Just like the fact that the Enlightenment Tradition comes primarily through cultures well grounded in belonging and community, they also come from cultures well grounded in a sense of the Divine. We don't have that here. Many people, on going to India, are struck by that sense of the Divine all around them. Every business, every town, every everything, it seems, is named after some aspect of God. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting a temple, a sadhu, or something that is called Gopal this or Shiva that. Every taxi cab has a little shrine of some kind. People worship their cars, their cash registers, their computers as an aspect of the Absolute every day. They are deeply grounded that the source of EVERYTHING is God, the Father/Mother, and that their own Self is also an aspect of that.

When I was a kid, there was a show called "Father Knows Best" - one of those Leave it to Beaver, 50's type of shows. While I don't necessarily advocate that sentiment, still we have thrown the baby out with the bathwather. While letting go of some of the old concepts (the illusory snakes) we don't need to, and shouldn't throw out the rope as well. The tradition of Vedanta from which the teachings of Advaitic non-dualism spring is rife with devotional aspects. Adi-Shankaracharya, considered the father of 'modern' Kevala Advaita wrote dozens and dozens of devotional prayers to God in numerous forms. Nisargadatta worshipped his Guru numerous times EVERY day. Ramana, similarly spoke of God and the necessity of the Guru and wrote beautiful devotional songs to his Beloved mountain Arunachala.

Yes, there is Buddhism, which doesn't speak so much of God, but that's because it was a moot point. Buddha's point was that there is suffering and a way to end suffering. He NEVER said there wasn't a God. It just wasn't a necessary argument for the philosophy and understanding. And again, it's coming from a culture where that was taken as a given. Imagine being in a Christian church and saying , "Our suffering comes from our attachment to things of the world, to the mind" etc. etc. etc. Now did I say there was no God? No. It just wasn't a part of what I was addressing.

The recognition of Self as non-separate from the Infinite is like a zero-point. When one abides as "I" and sees practically that one is Consciousness, that is like the landing in India. Yes, you've touched the ground, but that's a far cry from exploring the landscape, learning the language, and ultimately losing your 'self' completely and fully into the culture. Landing is EASY. Recognizing that you, the real 'You' is Consciousness is easy peezy! You can do that in 5 seconds. Now live there, continuously, without leaving, 100% of every moment, moment by moment. Don't think just because you've glanced the 'brass ring' that you've caught hold of it, and certainly haven't become it. That is when there is no you and the Father/Mother/Absolute is manifesting fully as This I-ness.

We, in the West especially, and in the modern age in general, have Extremist Entitlement. "I don't need to do anything. I deserve it all. I have a pocket knife. I think I'll be a brain surgeon. Anyone can be President here, so I'll proclaim myself President. Everyone is inherently Spiritual Presence, so I'll proclaim myself fully Enlightened (without the need to go through any of the steps to REAL-ize that.)

While not wanting to detract from the Reality that the True Nature of everyone IS Infinite Consciousness, the nature of Maya or illusion is that, while you may mentally or even intellectually understand that, or have deep 'Aha's about it, that is not a concrete, tangible REALIZATION! This is the razor's edge. It is the What of the What and Who of you. It IS. There is no denying it. But as long as there is predominant identification with the phenomenal, the material, the body and mind, the desires and aversions, that is NOT Enlightenment. Do not be mistaken!!!

If this post has bothered you, ask yourself "WHY?" Who is bothered by it? What has been said that offends you, and what is that which is offended? The answer is EGO. Always has been, always will be.

The Bhagavad Gita says, Bahunam Janmanamante, Jnanavan Mam Prapadyate, Vasudeva Sarvam iti, Sa Mahatma Sudurlabha....

"After many many births, one who is already a possessor of Knowledge, (Jnanavan, like Jnani) surrenders to Me (God), and REAL-izes Everything IS GOD (Vasudeva Sarvam iti). Such a Great Soul (mahatma) is Very rare."

So, the reccognition of one Self as consciousness is the zero-point, so to speak. Now expand into that Infinite beyond the Infinite beyond the Infinite. Don't stop until all is lost.

Sounds like fun, huh!?!