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 22, 2008

Spiritual authority needs legitimization, but do we need spiritual authority?

Following up on the previous post, the common path of spiritual movements with a Guide who is really a Leader seems to be as follows.

In order for Someone to have absolute moral authority, this Person must in some way be legitimized. Most movements spare time, effort nor money to reinforce the Legitimization of the Guide. (Who is a man, in say 99.99% of the spiritual movements.)

A very good practice is to have the current Guide legitimized in a line of previously established Superholy Predecessors. The Great Founder of the movement obviously is the first, and His Legitimization can be embellished all the more the longer He is no more with us in His Physical Form.

`Stars began to blaze in that night of that year, and the holy Aszjnabaraki spoke: He has come. Already at His birth, it was noticed that people and animals grew quiet around Him. At the age of four, His mother was surprised one day to find Him....etc.'

It becomes more elaborate as time passes, but the essence of the legitimization mythos is practically the same in all movements: the Guide is legitimized through Holy Divine Sources (backed up by a lot of books, testimonials etc), which of course cannot be tested by mere mortals, BUT mere mortals can experience the Love emanating from the Guide as a palpable proof of the legitimization... Although of course proof is not necessary since we must rely on Faith. [more on faith later]

#######

I'm putting in these #-s because already we are being pulled in a direction here which -in my not so humble opinion (imnsho)- should read CAUTION, do you really want to go here?

Because to me it seems that any TRUE spiritual guide would NEVER go near anything having to do with moral authority.

A true spiritual guide...that rarest of all human beings...might be inclined to help you find a true spiritual guide within yourself. I would be surprised if this was not the case. And it would mean that the number of guides increases. No followers to speak of.

Oh, but wait! If I am my own guide, then blimey, I must make my own decisions, take my own responsibility...no way, I'd rather be with the herd, in the herd, cosy, warm, following Him.

#######

If you are a seeker of true spirituality (and why else would you read this blog, or to put it more directly: what other thing in life is really worthwile?) then my question to you is:

Is not in yourself the very thing you seek?

You may be desperate, you may think someone else can help you feel spiritual, balanced, loving,...and I think this is correct, there are people everywhere willing to devote their time and energy and love to help others find spirituality, balance, love. But where does this idea of moral authority come from? Where does the idea even of morality as an external obligation come from?

If my guide (or one of my guides, or all of them) gives me some clue, some direction, some example - where's the authority? And if I don't follow the clue, direction, example...well so what? SHAME on me? A WASTE of a UNIQUE opportunity to wash away my sins, clean my samskaras, shorten my longsuffering reincarnation cycle?

Please, dear reader, consider what would happen if you don't believe this type of moral pressure. If you refuse this combination of Fear and Temptation which characterizes the vast majority of so-called spiritual movements. And shed it, like you take off an ill-fitting itchy garment.

Would it mean, as most movements suggest or (more likely) strongly affirm, that your Salvation becomes endangered? That your Soul will accrue more darkness, and that you are at risk of debauchery, materialism, clogging your spiritual arteries?

Or would it mean you are realizing your own path, with your own heart, following the true guide within, with HELP from your loving guides but without authority, rank, surrender, obedience, submission, ... and other excess luggage.

If you were this loving God, which of these scenarios would you choose for your human beings who are after all made in your image?

No comments: