Sometimes to those who are on the spiritual path, it can seem like those who are in full ignorance are happier. It can feel like ignorance is bliss, but it isn’t. It’s deep, deep suffering.
There are few things about spiritual seeking…First, the spiritual seeker has a certain type of sensitivity, which makes them more sensitive to suffering, because they are more aware of it often. That self-aware aspect can intensify suffering that wouldn’t bother other people so much. Some spiritual seekers have fairly nice lives outwardly. But inwardly they are suffering intently because they are more sensitive to their suffering because the awareness is there.
The other thing about the spiritual path is that it is often an isolating path, which also makes it difficult. There is no one to share it with, very few people understand this, because most people are not seekers of liberation, they are seekers of other things.
The other thing is there is nothing you can do about it. Say ignorance was bliss, probably with this there is no turning back! I’m sorry to say, you can’t go back!
Sri Ramana Maharshi did not say you have to love me, you have to devote yourself to me – that is not the essence of the teaching at all. That is actually to miss the point to what he is actually pointing towards. He said you’ve got to follow my teachings. You have to follow the Guru’s instruction.
This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das.
See https://tomdas.com/events for further information.
From Sages we understand that the direct and immediate means of winning Deliverance is the Quest of the real Self, by turning the mind away from the world – that is, from everything that can be objectified – towards the Self in the Heart.
But we find that this is not easy, because in the mind there are attachments to objects, gross or subtle, and habits of thought, which are mostly latent, but spring into feverish activity one after another, and pull the mind back to the world.
These are mental taints, which are called vasanas, because they have been acquired by intimate contact with objects, and linger in the mind, like the smell of the contents that lingers in a pot after it is emptied. Because these ‘smells’ of things are more in some than others, there is a great difference between one disciple and another.
The Sage tells us that disciples are of four grades, comparable to gun powder, dry charcoal, ordinary fuel, and wet fuel.
The first kind of disciple needs only a word, like a spark, to consume his ignorance at once.
The second kind needs some teaching and personal effort.
The third kind needs a long course of teaching, training and practice.
The fourth kind needs to be made fit for discipleship by practices suitable to his condition.
Hence most disciples would need to persevere in the Quest for a long time, before they could become confident of winning ultimate success. Many might become discouraged at the want of success, and be inclined to give up the enterprise.
What are these disciples to do, so that they may be able to make steady progress towards the goal? The answer is, they must practice devotion to God.
The above excerpt is taken from the book Maha Yoga, Chapter 11
If we are earnestly seeking, relentlessly seeking, honestly seeking, it can be quite easy at times to loose faith in the spiritual path. After some time of seeking we can become disillusioned with the whole thing and question it totally, especially if we are a long-time seeker. This is actually a great gift to us. We are taken back down to solid earth with a bump and can start afresh with new eyes. We may ask ourselves questions such as:
-Does enlightenment even exist?
-What if all these teachers are just deluding themselves?
-What if this whole spirituality thing is utter nonsense?
In the light of our disillusionment, as we have discovered that our seeking has not thus far worked, we can assess things in a more sober light. We may start to have thoughts such as:
-Spiritual practices have not really got me anywhere. They may have improved my life somewhat and given me glimpses of something beyond, but they have not given me lasting joy-peace-love that I so yearn for. At most they have given me fleeting joys, and this is not enough.
-Spiritual teachers, despite their promissory words, spiritual airs and smiling faces, have not really taken me to the place where suffering has ended. And all I am left with are empty second-hand words, mere dust in my hands.
-I find Spiritual books to be tiresome. They say similar things in different ways, and these words now no longer nourish me. I want more than this. This is not working. These teachings no longer touch me or move me deeply. I am fed up of all these words and paper. I want more.
-The so-called spiritual people I know are no better off than me. Beyond the thinly veiled smiles, baggy clothes and Namastes I can see they are just as caught up in illusion as I am, suffering as I am, groping in the dark as I am. What can they really give me in terms of enlightenment/self-realisation?
At this point we have essentially had enough of all the central aspects of the ‘spiritual journey’: we are fed up of spiritual teachers, teachings, practices, books and spiritual people/groups. We are questioning our very concept of spirituality. We are now wondering if there is such a thing as spirituality or enlightenment or self-realisation.
Hopefully, together with the disillusionment in seeking fulfillment in spiritual things, we are also disillusioned in seeking absolute fullfilment in the so-called world, eg. through relationships, wealth, pleasure, society, etc.
Having come ‘this far’, if we are lucky, we may start to lose faith in one more thing: our own mind. We can also realise that not only can teachers/ teachings/ practices/ communities NOT bring us to the enlightenment we desire, but neither can we ourselves get us there. Our own minds, our own thoughts, ideas and ideologies are also equally as useless as everything else as they too have not worked. Despite listening to our self for this long, where has it got us? Are we not still as ‘unenlightened as ever’?
Now we are totally disillusioned. We have no faith in anything. We know that teachers, teachings, practices and the mind – none of them work. We no longer rely on spirituality, the world or on our mind. All seeking here just continues the struggle, the labour, the burden…
We no longer lean on external authorities, we no longer hand our authority over to them, we no longer rely on thought as a means to escape suffering.
At the same time, the teachings are firmly implanted in the mind. We know them back to front due to our time seeking – we can trot off the words like ‘there is nobody here’, ‘there is no mind’, ‘all is one’, ‘separation is an illusion’…it’s just that these words do not do it for us anymore.
So now what do we do? What can we grab hold of? Are you waiting for a teacher to tell you what happens next, or are you done with all of that? Is there even anyone here to do anything? What’s going on?
There is a great gift here for one who has travelled this far…
So many people cling to beliefs, either knowingly or unknowingly, caught up in confusion, sometimes teaching it to others.
If you really want truth, would you accept a belief, a concept, an idea? Would you accept second-hand words, teachings and phrases uttered by others? Would you worry about what others think and get preoccupied in puerile semantic debate?
Or would you continue to seek, genuinely investigate, until you have genuinely found, in your own direct experience, the end to your suffering, an end to your seeking?