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...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some closing remarks

It seems to me that what I set out to do has been done. This therefore should be my last post on this blog , for the time being. If you go back one post, you will find a list of 16 `pitfalls of spirituality'. I will provide each with links to relevant posts contained in this blog.

Still, the best way to read this blog (I think) is to start out at the oldest post and click on `newer post' (at the bottom of the post) each time. This might take some time though, I have no idea how much pages of a regular book these posts would fill.

What has been lacking a bit, thereby causing some imbalance, is an account of all the positive experiences I've had with regard to spirituality, and also with regard to practising a spiritual method. In my life I've been privileged to have met many kind, loving, wonderful people from whom I have learned a great deal about what spirituality means to me. Many of these people have given me what cannot be expressed in words, without second thought or reserve, out of what to me seems true and inspiring altruism. Thank you all.

It might seem negatively balanced also to only talk about pitfalls of spirituality, but I really do not feel that I can add significantly to the many beautiful texts on positive aspects of spirituality existing already. (My personal attitude is to read beyond certain often-occurring pitfalls to find what is to me the real meaning in a spiritual text.)

Non-absolute, non-divisive, individualized spirituality to me seems necessary to bring about what I would call a better world. A world free of exploitation. A world where children are safe, and can grow up playfully. Where `war' like `poverty' is a strange concept from long-forgotten times. Where humans are the custodians of nature. Where human and animal rights are respected. Where difference of opinion goes together with a friendly helping attitude. Etc. You might say: `dream on'...and I would reply (I think) with John Lennon's song Imagine:

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

This better world is far more important to me and probably you (why else would you be reading this blog?) than most other things. Including of course this blog, which is as personal as it is imperfect. Let's put aside our differences and combine our efforts to make this world a better place.


Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

I want to thank you for the texts which you have produced in this blog. I have read your many personal statements and believe that they have been put together with care and a view on how "to make it work better". I support almost all of your thoughts and conclusions, but I feel that it would be a pity to leave it here.

I would like your thoughtful text to be more easily available and accessible. Why not to try to put it into a nice pdf document, with access to individual chapters etc? Perhaps I can be of help?

Best wishes,


franka waaldijk said...

thank you theo, for your kind words!

if you could put this blog in a .pdf format, I would be obliged. then I could put the .pdf document somewhere on the web, and link to it from here. is that an idea?

as of availability, i'm confident that this blog will be found (in time) by people looking for ... something like this blog.

this is also a matter of `being linked to', so i hope that interested readers with a website or homepage will link to this blog.

i'm also looking to submit the blog to a proper subdirectory of the open directory project, but i haven't found a suitable subdirectory yet.

anyway, statistics so far show that already people come on this blog after searching on google for `absolute truth' etc.

the rest we leave up to ... higher forces ;-)

kind regards, frank

Lars Shalom said...

great blog

Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

I do not agree with name of this blog, however, i completely agree with the content, These are not pitfalls of spirituality, but your comments are about pitfalls of Sahaj Marg, you know, a thousand lie cannot deny one truth. Spirituality has no pitfalls, it is sahaj marg, which is a Schizophrenia of spirituality whose pitfalls you have explained so nicely.


franka waaldijk said...

thank you shashwat. still, although my experiences with sahaj marg have been the key trigger to write this blog, i really think that the title of this blog is appropriate enough. i could have given many examples of other spiritual/religious movements where these pitfalls abound. but perhaps the title `pitfalls of spiritual movements'would have been better, you could be right.

Anonymous said...

Dear Frank,

If you feel that i could be right, then please do the right thing, change the name of your blog, you need not change the link, but heading you can change, if your experience with Sahaj Marg was not good (which is understandable) do not throw the baby out with the bath tub, spirituality is essence of life, and as such it does not have any pitfalls, cults like sahaj marg which is a fake religious groups, have (only) pitfalls, but true spirituality cannot have pitfalls as it is the right thing to do.

You can change the heading from "Pitfalls of spirituality" to "pitfalls of sahaj marg" this will have two major impacts.

1. Those looking for Sahaj Marg will come to this blog.

2. Those looking for spirituality will digest your point easily.

Sahaj Marg and spirituality are absolutely different aspects, Shree Ram chandra mission (business house selling its product sahaj marg) is a brainwashing, mind controlling, dangerous, harmful CULT, and sahaj marg is complete nonsense, whereas spirituality is the simplest, natural way of living with love and devotion towards our society.

Please do the needful, there is no point in explaining pitfalls of something which we have not yet encountered, once you move out of sahaj marg, may be after that you will realize what spirituality is, because spirituality is opposite of Sahaj Marg.


franka waaldijk said...

dear shashwat, i see merit in what you say but not enough to change the title.

i believe that these pitfalls come to the fore in the large majority of spiritual movements (methods), religions included.

i agree with you, that what i would call spirituality exists without these pitfalls. but for very many people, spirituality is tied to a specific spiritual method.

therefore, i believe the title to be apt enough. `pitfalls of sahaj marg' would firstly be unnecessarily restrictive. secondly it would necessitate a lot more detail about sahaj marg itself. i would have to rewrite the blog. but this goes against my original purpose.

i'm not saying that critical blogs about sahaj marg are unnecessary. it's just that such blogs already exist, and i was really looking to analyze my experiences and thoughts not only with respect to sahaj marg, but also other movements and religions.

kind regards, frank

Shashwat Pandey said...

Hi All,

Please accept my kind apologies for all my activities my heart is ful of sorows for I have been acting as a barrier
and have misguided people from thier true path of existance.

I am very sorry for all my activities and I would like to request you all to pray for my self and my soul .

All the brilliance of my mind was played to make the things look more real and charming. It was all my own creation and manifestations !

Dear Master, please take me back to You.

Dear all, please forgive my activities and sorry for all the miss guidance I have spread, on to your lightning path !

Thanks for your compassion.

Shashwat Pandey

franka waaldijk said...

the above post is probably a scam. shashwat has another blogger profile (simply `shashwat'). the profile `shashwat pandey' was created in october 2008, with no contact or other details.

if i do not hear from shashwat to either confirm or deny that the post is a scam, i will remove the comment.

Shashwat said...

hahahahaha.. wat a joke... you got it rite frank, its not me.. this is what this cult does with normal human, who soever this person is, is totally brainwashed drone, who cannot think of anything other than Sahaj Marg.

Let this post remain here as a warning to all those who seek information about Sahaj Marg, eventually anyone who becomes a zombie of Sahaj Marg, will loose his/her own identity, and will become like the joker above faking as if it is me...

Best thing is, what i say has its effect. :)

Shashwat said...

The person using my name is using ID, i also know the IP he has used to this activity, Lets have pity on him, he is a brainwashed zombie of Sahaj marg, this is what Sahaj Marg converts a normal human into.

jonymaster. :)

franka waaldijk said...

it hardly seems very spiritual, to hijack someone's identity in order to post false messages.

on a different level, i have found that `be truthful' is not a very respected maxim in sahaj marg.

i think this maxim is way underestimated by most people in general anyway.

i see `truthful' not in the sense of absolute truth, but in the sense of personal truth. `be truthful' to me means things like

* be honest to yourself, in order to be honest to others
* do not play games / schemes / etc.
* do not accept blatant untruths

how `absolute truth' leads to a loss of personal truth i have tried to describe in the posts on truth. i agree with shashwat that the fake post above is a very clear example.

Anonymous said...

'Pitfall of spirituality' is just fine heading of what you have written, however I am more our interested in knowing is there any way, path or a system which leads us to HIM.As I can make out from your very elaborate article that you have spent a major part of your life practicing spirituality, So could you please help me out finding the way which leads to HIM.

Reincarnation, materialistic goals, balanced existence, karmas all these things make so much sense to me that it forces me to think beyond religion.Again you can not deny the blissful state we achieve after meditation or in the master's vicinity.

Please reply.

franka waaldijk said...

dear anonymous,

your question is pertinent, if i understand it correctly.

personally, i believe in spirituality as a way for humanity to become more loving, caring, connected. perhaps even to become a sort of custodians of the planet.

i also believe in spirituality as a personal, individual way to become more tolerant, compassionate, loving, caring. in this way, i believe spirituality can help find a direction in life. similarly, spirituality can help accept the pain in life, and help accept death.

i do not know about `HIM'. i find it hard to believe in some personified form of god. for me, i believe in god where the word `god' indicates everything which is beyond human understanding and/or perception.

to me, the essence of our existence seems beyond human understanding. this is part of what makes life hard. for me personally, i find that life is easier, makes more sense, when i try to connect to other beings in a tolerant, balanced, loving way.

meditation helps me to calm my mind, and feel connectedness. i do not care overly for bliss, it seems to me a temporary state. to strive for continuous bliss to me seems artificial.

if someone's presence makes me happy, then fine. to experience bliss in the presence of a spiritual master, also fine. but then i go home, to my family which needs me, to my friends (some of them who need me...;-)), my work (which can do perfectly without me ;-)). and that's when the real spirituality begins.

for me, the real spirituality is inside me, you, us. the wish to develop a spiritual way of living is to me a sure sign of that spiritual way already. i don't think i will ever `find it'. many people help me, giving examples, but it will always be developing slowly and individually, i believe.

of course, i understand the desire to hitch one's wagon to a purported saint. like i wrote in other posts, this to me seems a transfer of responsibility which i actually deem to be a pitfall.

first of all, i don't believe in saints. especially not saints which are acknowledged as such. you might ask, what about spiritual masters? well, more or less the same story, as far as i'm concerned. in my book, a truly spiritual person would not call herself a spiritual master. and also actively discourage others from revering her in such a way.

still, i have been very fortunate to know some exceptional people, who have given me special support in my endeavour to become more kind, tolerant etc. but to be precise, i have learned a lot also from many other kind people who would not easily be considered spiritual masters, but who show kindness, connectedness etc. when it counts.

as for reincarnation, karma, samskara, inherited sin and similar concepts: they go a nice way to describing the following phenomenon.

we are all equipped with personal, individual traits, attractions, desires, aversions, and even physical characteristics, such as being a man or a woman or something in between or beside.

what is just a blueprint at birth, becomes an edifice which we build on during our life. this edifice often has aspects which we would rather do without. and which we can perceive to be a hindrance, if we wish to become more spiritual.

for me personally, accepting the blueprint i've been given and the edifice i built with it, helps me to slowly change that edifice into a more spiritual building, at least this is how it feels.

the more traditional renderings of reincarnation to me sound like an invitation to a `fear and temptation' mechanism.

dear anonymous, i hope you find something in this answer which leaves a lot unsaid.

Anonymous said...

My sister's life is ruined by one such zombie who married her. She is this wonderful, beautiful girl who is now pushed to limits in life from the time she married this guy. Best part?! MASTER got them married. Now he is always into the ashram neglecting his wife and diabetic son. I am at loss of words or ideas to save her.