Dear reader

Why do I write about pitfalls of spirituality?

My purpose with this blog is to crystallize and share my thoughts and experiences, in the hope that you and I may benefit from them. From 1993-2005 I practiced a so-called spiritual method (Sahaj Marg). Ultimately I realized that this method - and especially the organization around it (Shri Ram Chandra Mission or SRCM)- was contrary to some deep spiritual layer in myself. I came to some clear conclusions, and also to some still developing insights.

One still developing insight is that almost everybody is looking for some form of spirituality in their life. Therefore there are many spiritual methods and movements, often with similar pitfalls to the ones I experienced.

Many people follow a well-trodden path which is defined by the group in their immediate vicinity. Others are prompted by their heart and/or head to look for spirituality that makes sense on a personal level. Spirituality gives fulfillment -humanity as one, universal love growing, one with the buddha- as well as direction through life's tough questions.

I write about the pitfalls of spirituality because so many others seem to write mostly about the bliss of their own approach to spirituality. This bliss to me actually seems a pitfall.

Understanding the pitfalls I deem essential to gain more spiritual insight. For me this actually translates into a lighter and more loving heart. I do not believe that understanding is the key issue in spirituality. But I do believe that misunderstanding can block key issues (although to which degree probably varies with each person).

Please bear with my frequent use of I feel, seems to me, in my not so humble opinion and so on. It is to emphasize that I do not consider any of my opinions to be more than that. I cannot bring you universal truth. In my not so humble opinion [imnsho] universal truth is a major pitfall in spirituality.

Dear reader, I hope you find something worthwhile on these pages. Friendly reactions, which may be as critical as you like, are always welcome.

Tips how to read this blog

* Please start with the closing remarks (click on the link), they should provide a balanced perspective on this blog.

* There is a list of 20 pitfalls in the sidebar. Clicking on a pitfall will provide a number of posts in which that pitfall is discussed to some extent.

* If you have time, consider starting with the oldest post, and simply going through to each next post. This probably gives the most faithful ;-) reading...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Absolute truth leads to closed mind and heart

So, the question was: if Absolute Truth is so wonderful -giving purpose, direction, security, etc. in life- then who would NOT want Absolute Truth?

To answer this question -even though most questions are probably more interesting without clearcut answers- let me start out as follows. Absolute Truth is one of the classic areas where subjective and objective conflict. Or, from a different perspective, where heart and mind conflict.

One could think this is fairly obvious, just by looking at people all around. Because there are clearly very different Absolute Truths, all depending on who is allowed to define Truth.

Why do religions divide humanity? Why have more wars been fought over religious issues than over any other issue? It is because of the belief that one's own Truth is The Absolute Truth. Therefore people disagreeing are sadly blinded, misguided, and need help (or in case of serious religious warfare: are beyond help and need forceful conversion or destruction even).

If my Truth is The Absolute Truth, giving me direction, purpose, love, redemption, guilt absolution, death solution...then what happens if someone holds a different Absolute Truth?

Well, My Absolute Truth is threatened, that's what happens. Because by its very nature, Absolute Truth does not allow two different versions. So all of a sudden, just the fact that someone holds a different Absolute Truth, threatens the direction, security, purpose, love, etc. that I so carefully built up for myself. Therefore the least I must do, is deny the truthfulness of this other person's Absolute Truth.

`No, no, the christians are right to believe in only one God, but they have some fundamental things wrong.'

`Religions are the kindergarten of spirituality. But one should not stay in kindergarten.'

`There are many gurus, of different caliber. They can roughly be classified according to their level of approach. But only our system offers a Guru of the Highest Caliber, who through awakening of the spiritual Self can bring the aspirant to His own level, if the aspirant is willing to sincerely practise the Method under His direction.'

`I'm telling you, outside of our movement, the world is depraved and clueless and misguided. I have seen brothers and sisters leaving our Mission, and fall back into grossness and immoral behaviour, but still He loves them and tries to bring them back, even through subtle suggestion on the cosmic level.'

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In this way, Absolute Truth leads to the other pitfall: us and them. And the very thing we started out with, this longing in our heart to have humanity united, to hold all human beings equal and undivided in a spiritual sense, this which was part of our Truth, has now come strangely around to bite us in the tail. Because Absolute Truth divides.

So who would not want Absolute Truth?

All those, and thank heavens they are still numberful, who strive for united humanity more than for religious redemption. Wasn't there a Dutch bishop lately who said, well if it makes people less divided then why don't we all pray to Allah, I'm sure God won't mind or something similar. I thought it was wonderful.

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Perhaps it is illuminating to reveal my own part in this Truth thing a bit more. In hindsight I believe I was emotionally susceptible to the idea of Absolute Truth when I started out with the `spiritual method' Sahaj Marg. Feeling good after meditation, feeling heart connection to both the guru and other practitioners, learning about my self and my spiritual longing and having a path to follow, made me believe that my heart feeling should determine what my mind should accept.

But, the interesting thing about the mind is this. One cannot ignore the mind completely -even though looking around, you might believe others succeed at just that... And so, humanity has moved on from the littlebitsmart animal status to the littlebitmoresmart animal status, even though it took us millions of years to do so. In the past ten thousand years, mankind has freed itself slowly but surely of superstitious fears which were really dragging us down, really hampering us.

What was our main instrument in doing so? The heart or the mind?

You see, even though I no longer believe in Absolute Truth, I do believe that there is something quite fishy when someone tries to convince me that one plus one equals three. Looking through history, it seems to me that the mind is at least as valuable a truth instrument as the heart. How did we get rid of the stranglehold of christianity on our western society? Well, with all due respect to others, I think Copernicus, Galilei, Darwin, and many other scientists also contributed quite a lot. In the face of their simple evidence, the christian church was robbed of much of its Absolute Truths. And then this mechanism came into play: you can fool some people some time, but you can't fool all the people all the time.

So for me personally, there were too many things not adding up in the Wonderful Theory of my beautiful method. Instead of acknowledging this not-adding up (nothing completely adds up, reality simply isn't that simple, I think), people tried to deny or ignore these issues. Add to this the (to me) appalling lack of self-reflection in the behaviour of `senior officials' who are supposed to be enlightened practitioners, and the increasing number of contradictions between Theory and the day to day management practices of the Management / Guide, and you will understand that it was my heart which one day simply had enough.

I suddenly both knew and felt that my Truth lies elsewhere. Not with the Absolute Truth of some Movement, but simply, mostly wordlessly, within my own heart and mind. And not theoretically, but more practically, feelingly and open to change. Open to you, I hope.

And then I realized the clou of the statement `the truth will set you free' from this new perspective, which was like a mathematical insight gleaned from a nice geometrical drawing.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frank...

Just for your enjoyment and for confirmation of the accuracy (not "absolute truth") of what you say... ;-))

I got these and other quotes on what you are saying about "Truth" and specially "Absolute Truth" which according to Krishnamurti, like "faith", it leads to "VIOLENCE"...

by Krishnamurti at:

http://www.knowprose.com/node/12526

Truth has no path. Truth is living and, therefore, changing. Awareness is without choice, without demand, without anxiety; in that state of mind, there is perception. To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Awareness has no frontier; it is giving of your whole being, without exclusion.

-- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Enjoy...

4d-don

frank waaldijk said...

thank you don.

krishnamurti made quite an impression on me when i was in my early twenties, my philosophy teacher at the art academy showed us several talks.

one thing that i recall is that he did not want to be seen as guru or leader or anything close.

i will probably take a look at the link you give, but it might take some time. i also have to change the settings of this blog so that i get notified if someone comments ...!

Shashwat said...

I find it difficult to follow your posts, where are recent posts ? can you arrange them in order so that viewers can follow all your posts.

Really appritiate your views. :)

Regards
Shashwat