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Season 1 - Episode 11

Day 10: Journey of Transformation

75 min - Talk
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The aim of the spiritual journey may be to become the Christ or the Buddha or Krishna, but the undertaking is not easy. In Day 10, after our seated meditation, Ravi elaborates on the challenges of self-transformation, and the shifts that occur in oneself as a result of this journey. We are asked to reflect on particular findings that may have stood out for us throughout this course.
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Meditation

Since this is our last gathering in this particular course, let us be sure about some of the very standard ideas and practices, again and again helpful to remind ourselves of our place in this very large cosmos, where there are trillions of galaxies, and millions of people will die within one year on this planet, which is only one of the planets in a very ordinary galaxy, but also a reminder from all the sages that the entire space is filled with conscious and subtle forces and energies, naturally labeled differently in different languages or different cultures. So it is always useful when one sits down in meditation to remind oneself that I am in the presence of this divine energy right here, whether I call it the Holy Spirit or call it Brahma or any other label. In fact, if I can remember this even in my usual life activities, it calls a great conscience. Am I in fact engaged with what I came into this existence for? The purpose of any spiritual practice, including meditation, is for us to become more and more aware of our raison d'être.

Why have these large forces and energies created me for a few decades? How do I subtly hear mostly in feeling? Occasionally certain words appear, but largely a certain feeling. So to pay attention to what is taking place emotionally in me now is my emotional energy just going in anxiety or worrying or expecting some result or the other. Always a helpful reminder that I can be grateful for the simple fact that I exist since I did not create myself.

And one can always return to this remarkable mystery. Do I breathe or am I being breathed? And then a whole sense of wonder, why? So more and more relaxation, physical, emotional, using emotional energy for slightly subtler or higher feelings such as gratitude, wonder, similarly searching for the right alignment physically but intellectually also. Can I actually be free, at least temporarily, of whatever I know and hear something unexpected, surprising?

And again and again making connection with our breath, a constant reminder from many scriptures, many sages, that breath, prana or cheese connecting link between all levels of reality and that what is keeping me alive is the breath of God in me, not my breath. These are simple reminders and very frequent reminders, but to return to this emotionally, intellectually requires a whole sense of mystery. And then from our side, always returning again and again to the right relaxation, the right posture and more and more conscious breathing. All these factors can make us more receptive to something, not an attitude of demanding or commanding, but of receptivity. Thank you.

And always returning, whenever I can remember, to the practice of breathing with more and more awareness, so to become aware of the whole energy in the body which is very much carried by the breath. And I take a moment now intentionally to bring the focus of my attention as far outside this room that I can, listening to the rain or any other sounds. And now intentionally I bring my attention to inside this room. What needs to be changed is the focus of my attention. All the external world will continue.

But can I at least temporarily be interested in what is taking place inside me? Now I bring my attention very much closer to myself, becoming aware of my heartbeat. If I find it helpful, for a moment I can put my hand on my heart just to be sure that I am really aware of my heartbeat. And we know that this will keep beating as long as I am alive. I can let go of the hand.

Similarly aware of the movement of the blood in my body just to take a pulse with fingers of one hand on the wrist on the other side. And there is many other movements are going on. There is my breathing, heartbeat, movement of blood, many other energies in the body. So it is a good reminder that the kind of stillness or silence we are searching for is not the stillness of the dead. It belongs to a different level within ourselves.

All these movements will continue. All the external world will continue. So much depends on the focus of my attention. Strictly speaking, one can be in a state of meditation, in a supermarket and not be in meditation even when sitting quietly. Thank you.

Now if I can again remind myself how little I actually know. So I don't need to be making a demand on the universe. Can I intentionally, internally submit to these spiritual energies that have created me, whether I call it God or something else? So for a few moments now we sit here without trying anything that I know, without asking for anything or wishing for anything. It's just I am simply sitting here.

Breathing is taking place through me rather than by me. Knowing nothing, desiring nothing. Take three more breaths, then we'll have to stop. Thank you very much.

Talk

Well this is our last gathering for this particular course.

So a few other things will naturally be repeated. But again a reminder of the whole program that Christ came not to make us Christians but to make us Christ. This is a remark in the Gospel of Philip that I have already quoted several times. And of course it corresponds to all other serious spiritual teachings. For example the Buddha saying look within, you are the Buddha.

Or in the Upanishads the remark that you are that. That is referring to the highest reality. In Sanskrit it is tat tvam asi. Just a reminder. And then in a way very much this suggestion again and again that our own birth is being initiated from something coming from, we use the expression on high.

By high I simply really mean from a higher level of consciousness. And this is generally the idea understanding that different levels of reality have different levels of consciousness. The highest reality, meaning God, has the highest level of consciousness gradually descending down and down to the completely dead matter if you like. Although from a spiritual point of view there is nothing completely dead. This is particularly emphasized in the Indian tradition more so.

Partly because just as a general remark in the Abrahamic tradition there are as it were definite breaks between one level of reality and the other level of reality. And so that there is a break between human beings and angels and between angels and God and human beings and animals. That was really the main objection to Darwin's theory of evolution. Whereas in the Indian tradition there is really a continuity rather than direct breaks between different levels. And also another general remark that in the Abrahamic tradition no creature even in principle can be at the same level as the creator.

This was the objection to Christ's remark that the father and I are one. And if anybody else said that, for example in the Islamic tradition a great Muslim sage, Al-Halaaz, actually said much the same. And then precisely because of that they decided to actually crucify him because he was saying something like Christ was saying. So he had to punish accordingly. And anybody who even came any time close to it even though they didn't exactly say this, for example Maestro Eckhart made a remark that our soul is as infinite as God.

And this was one of the major reasons he was excommunicated. So in the Abrahamic tradition no creature can come to the level of the creator. Whereas in the Indian tradition this is in fact the call that since the creator is in everything, it's not that God created the world, God became the world. So it has a different kind of perspective and therefore even a mosquito actually has God in it. So there is no dead matter.

Everything has some consciousness in it, some spirit in it if you like. So there are some fundamental differences but still overall the feeling that every human being can actually evolve and this kind of remark of Christ quoted in the Gospel of Philip doesn't usually get promoted in the usual Christian doctrines and churches. So just coming back to this then, the question then is that something is coming from above, meaning from a higher level of consciousness. It's my soul, soul is, I would come back to this in a moment, a particle of the spirit which is really what a soul is takes on my body because it needs to evolve, wishing to return to the level of God if you like. That's the meaning of evolution in a spiritual direction and therefore it needs a body to undertake some actions.

So it's not that my body has the soul, it's the soul that has the body for its purposes. And that body including the mind is if you like coming from the material side. So we have actually whatever I am is a combination of two sides, one coming from above if you like, the other one coming from below, from the material side and from the spiritual side. And this idea really very strongly emphasized again and again that there are two in us. Here I have, the various different words get used.

Sometimes two are indicated by I and me, sometimes by lamb and wolf, sometimes by self with a capital S and self with a small s or an ego. Sometimes, this is actually Saint Paul's remark, spiritual nature and carnal nature. Or Madam Dusasan called it angelic nature and animal nature. Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita calls it divine nature and demonic nature. But always the suggestion is that one is coming from a higher level, one from a lower level and the combination is me, each one of us.

And sometimes it is simply called just spirit and flesh. In fact, that's a remark of Christ I will quote in a few minutes, uses that expression. And so, first of all, it is important, very important to understand the two in me, two in each one of us. And there is a strong tendency, in fact even very strongly recommended by Christ, that the spirit certainly needs to overcome the demands and the desires of the flesh. And the one strong tendency sometimes you find in spiritual teachings as if one needs to be against the flesh.

This I don't think is a good idea because the flesh is intended to be the instrument. So we need to actually take care of the flesh, body, mind. It has to be the right kind of instrument, properly honed, fresh and refreshed, sharpened, whatever sense of the instrument you have in mind. So it's very important to keep this in mind, not to be against the small s self or the ego, which is why I had earlier quoted also my own teacher, Miranda Sosman, ego is a good servant but a bad master. So the servant also needs to be awake, helpful, serving.

To be properly useful, otherwise it cannot really be of any help at all. So keeping that in mind, and we first of all need to ask ourselves what are the main features of these two, which have a sort of a pulling us in different directions. In the Indian version one would say one of them is pulling us away from the center, they are centrifugal, the other is centripetal, going towards the center. Here I intentionally have drawn it from the perspective of the Christian teaching generally. One is pulling us up, the other is pulling us down.

And what are the overall features? The overall feature or characteristic of the fleshly part or the me part is self-preservation, continuity, fear, desire, like, dislike, approval, disapproval, worldly achievement, more occupation with wealth, power, pleasure. Driven by the flesh, these are the remarks of Christ, actually spirit and flesh is the way He refers to them. So desires of the flesh. The other side has more sense of compassion, love, sense of unity with the others, a sense of oneness actually with the whole.

And inclusiveness, these are among some of the features coming from the other side. And also subtler and subtler listening to quiet whispers of the mystery, because it depends on at what level one is speaking about this level. And it is quite important to be clear about this, this suggestion that our soul, maybe in fact I would even quote to you from, this is Plotinus, one of the great western philosophers, our soul is amphibious in nature. It can sink completely into matter or it can soar into the one. I think I have quoted this earlier as well.

So the word soul here, it is important to realize this is not the same as the word spirit. In the New Testament you have two completely different words in Greek. Noema is spirit. Suke or psyche, it looks like psyche in English, is soul. So these two are completely different dimensions.

Soul has the possibility of becoming completely towards the spirit. That's what Plotinus means, becoming soaring into the one. But it can completely sink into the matter. So what has happened, it actually started even earlier with one of the cardinals a long time ago in the 10th century, but especially with Descartes in the 16th century, it became somehow an idea as if soul is exactly the same as spirit. He even said it's exactly the same as the mind, in fact.

This is in his book on method. That's the title of the book on method. And so it has created a lot of confusion because then ordinarily religious people tend to think, well, I have a soul which is eternal, which is everlasting, nothing needs to be done to it, which is completely surprising because whenever we speak about spiritual development, what we are talking about is the development of the soul. And as Plotinus says, it can come to the one or it can completely sink into the matter. So soul is personal.

My soul is different from your soul, but spirit is not personal. It's transpersonal. So the direction that is the soul, if you like, in a certain way, one way of saying that it is my soul that can become the connecting link between spirit and matter or I and me. So in a certain way, one needs to think in terms of a third entity. I am the third entity that within myself I can rise up or go down.

So what part do I play? What do I choose? So it's important to keep in mind what the characteristics are of these, whether we call it I and Me or as I said, many other labels are given there. Wolf and Lamb is another label. Guruji actually uses that.

And I think I rather prefer the remark of St. Paul actually. It conveys it, spiritual nature and carnal nature, carnal meaning flesh. This is where we got the word incarnated. So which is why those who are carnivores, they are eating the flesh. That's where the word comes from.

And then all of us actually have these two natures is more or less the general assumption or the general assertion of all the sages. Otherwise I won't exist. But they are pulling in different directions. And here is actually earlier I think I had quoted from one of the 17th century Christian poet, Rasin, called The Lament of a Christian. But here I have a little poem by Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest poets India has produced.

Actually people often don't realize three different countries have their national anthems based on his poetry. I don't think any other writer could claim that kind of fame. And this is what he said. This is one of his poems in his famous book called Gitaanjali for which he actually got the Nobel Prize in Literature. I came out alone on my way to my tryst.

But who is this who follows me in the silent dark? I move aside to avoid his presence but I escape him not. He makes the dust rise from the earth with his swagger. He adds his loud voice to every word that I utter. He is my own little self, my lord.

He knows no shame. But I am ashamed to come to thy door in his company. This is Rabindranath Tagore. But I think earlier I had quoted from The Lament of a Christian a very similar idea. He says, I am wishing on the one hand to be wholly devoted to God's will but then I find myself struck with my flesh.

This is not uncommon. Every person who seriously actually undertakes any spiritual journey, naturally feels a call for something subtle or higher. And so that part exists in him, which wishes to respond to this. But actually one constantly forgets the kind of reminder we have, for example, from Jesus Christ, unless you leave yourself behind. That is a small self behind.

You cannot be a follower of mine. And I think I had also quoted to you from a great Sufi sage, Ansari of Harath. Know that when you learn to lose yourself, you will reach the beloved. That's a very Sufi way of speaking about God. There is no other secret to be learned and more than this is not known to me.

And then a very ancient text in India called Shatapat Brahman. Only those may enter the sun door who can truly respond to the question, who are you with nobody? That's a remarkable response. So this is a very general common notion that I need to be free of myself. But when I say to be free of it doesn't mean to be against it.

Please try. Let me keep repeating this idea because there is a strong tendency to become very dualistic as if I need to get rid of that self. I need to. This is not a suggestion. Nobody could seriously undertake any practice if one's body is not willing to sit quietly and is more or less healthy.

This is why you see in the yoga sutras, even the emphasis on asana. Not very much emphasis, but it is mentioned as one of the aspects of yoga so that one's body is okay. And mind is okay. When the word body is used, it always includes the word mind. I think more than once I've tried to say that.

But here is, of course, one realizes the difficulty, and this is a remark of Christ in Matthew chapter 26. Watch and pray that he enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. See, he uses the word spirit and flesh for much the same as I and me or many other labels that I just mentioned to you. Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Then really anybody who seriously undertakes the journey and one could hardly deny that St. Paul surely has undertaken the journey. One could hardly include him as one of the prophets or one of the apostles even. And so I will read to you what he felt about himself before he was, if you like, enlightened or had come to something. And what is the change? So I'm really now here indicating the transformation of St. Paul.

First remark is, I cannot even understand my own actions. I do not do what I want to do, but what I hate. I know that no good dwells in me, that is in my flesh. The desire to do right is there, but not the power. What happens is that I do not the good I will to do, but the evil I do not intend.

This is Romans chapter 7, 15 to 19. You can happily read it there. Translations are always a little different. So don't get too occupied about precisely this translation or that translation. But essentially the idea behind it.

I'm just really reading one of the translations here. So that is what he realizes his situation to be. And then afterwards, now this is from the Galatians chapter 2, verse 20. I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.

And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. I see what a shift there. I live, but not I. Christ lives in me. But that requires, he actually calls it crucifixion. He is crucified with Christ. Dying to the ordinary self is really the way Christ himself puts it, unless you leave yourself behind.

And in other Gospels, especially in John's Gospel, he actually calls it dying to the self. But therefore one can also understand that it is first of all not an easy undertaking. Serious transformation is very frightening because I have then this sense as if I will die. Because that is what I am. That's what I see myself to be. Which is also, it's rather interesting here to really understand that part of this comes from our attachment to something that we know.

Therefore one of the very strong suggestions in spiritual teachings is, how can I be free of what I know? Then it gets put in varieties of ways. How can I be in a state of unknowing? That doesn't mean state of ignorance. I tried to emphasize this earlier. But it's a state of willing to face whatever comes, rather than that it has to be the way I understand it to be or the way it should be, according to my understanding or my knowledge. So state of unknowing is really a state of innocence, willingness to face whatever comes, rather than that it has to be according to what I know.

In fact, at least in contemporary times, at least in my own meetings, it was much more emphasized by Krishnamurti than perhaps anybody else. In fact, the title of the book is, Freedom from the Known. That's the title of one of his books, Freedom from the Known. That is really in a way the call. We know many things, but what we do not know is a hell of a lot more than what we know. You can be sure of that.

As I keep occasionally reminding people that whatever we now teach in physics is unknown hardly 120 years ago. So in the next 120 years or next 1200 years, surely we'll find out something else. So that means already something exists that we don't know. And this is all our great scientists who are doing this. None of us have quite the same category of knowledge.

So in a way, to rely on what I know is really limiting myself. A very interesting comment of a great poet in India, Kabir. In fact, my son is named after him, a great Sufi poet, Kabir. He actually makes this remark that water is in the pail, the pail is in the water. Only when the bottom of the pail is broken, then it's water in the water.

Otherwise we remain a separate drop away from the whole ocean. A separate drop has no particular meaning. It's almost nothingness. But if it is part of the ocean, then it is really connected with the wholeness. But then he also makes one very interesting comment.

It's not only the drop in the ocean, but the ocean in the drop. Then somebody like the Christ could actually walk in flesh and bones and in fact manifest the whole divine source. That's the ocean in the drop. So incarnation, which of course in a way is a limitation, does not have to be deprived of the whole ocean entering the drop. So this poet, Kabir, remarkable poet, I actually grew up in a family hardly a week would pass by when somebody or the other would not quote Kabir.

This was very much in the family. And that was the reason I called my son Kabir. And Manju is my daughter's name, which comes from a Bodhisattva Manjushri. One day I found them with a large encyclopedia arguing with each other who has more pages after their name. Well, as you see, we are where we are.

I keep telling them to actually study what Kabir brought or what Manushri brought. They are more arguing about the numbers of pages. In any case, so return to this suggestion that first of all, this great transformation of St. Paul this is not undertaken just randomly. It is really in a way, as he himself says, I'm crucified with Christ. That is a very strong expression, but really to leave yourself behind is a milder way of putting it, if you like.

Then again and again what is required for any kind of his journey is a serious, impartial self-inquiry. You can call it self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-study. Don't get occupied with one word or the other. But sadly, you don't need to take it from what I'm saying, but you yourself have been to church many times. Do you ever hear somebody recommending this for you to study yourself carefully?

Whatever I say about Christian churches equally applies to all other organized religions. Take my word for it. You can try it. But very strong suggestion, in fact even any of the canonical Gospels don't seem to mention it very much, but this is from the Gospel of Thomas. Remark of Christ. The Kingdom is inside you and it is outside you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known and you will realize that it is you who are the children of the living Father.

But if you will not know yourself, you live in poverty and you are the poverty. Actually, I don't know a stronger statement than this almost anywhere. Even you are the poverty. This is the Remark of Christ. So very strong requirement for impartial and deep self-study. And I have already mentioned this more than once.

That part of the kind of study or awareness or knowledge we are talking about is a knowledge that has a transforming quality to it. Otherwise, it's not real knowledge from a spiritual point of view. So therefore, again and again I have tried to say this to you, that awareness, one could call it knowledge, attention, consciousness, variety of words can be used, is actually the mechanism of transformation. I usually prefer the word awareness rather than knowing or attention, but Plotinus and Permanides, two of the great philosophers in the Western world, they prefer the word knowing is the same as being. What I tend to call self-awareness and self-transformation as spiral in nature.

No development in any field, learning music, learning physics, any spiritual development. None of this is linear in nature, it's always spiral. One knows a little, therefore one is more interested, then you study more, then you know more. So it's always a spiral development. So self-awareness and self-transformation are not two things, they are spiral in nature.

Or as I said, to use the phrase of Plotinus and Permanides, it's knowing and being, they say, are not two things. But again, the call is there, but most of us are really not willing to undertake the required journey, simply because as Christ Himself reminded, He who is near me is near the fire. He who is far from me is far from the kingdom. So the second part is we can believe in this, but just believing in this is not the helpful thing. How can I then come near to Him?

Then am I willing to stand the fire? What does the fire in this context mean? Remember I have periodically said that whenever I undertake any deprivation or any privation or any suffering intentionally, that becomes sacred, sacrifice, and can connect me with the sacred. So really that is the call. It's easier to say, I wish to be a follower of Christ, but what is He asking us to do?

To be free of our ordinary self. Free, not against it. That's not emphasized in the Bible so much, but I'm reminding you again and again to be free of something doesn't mean to be against it. In fact, you can never be free of anything by being against it. That's one thing I repeatedly say.

So the journey that is required really is how can I see myself more and more impartially and that very seeing, I earlier called it awareness, brings about a change. Because consciousness actually belongs to a level higher than my functions. By functions I mean my thinking, my moving, my feeling. And so then it is possible for a change to take place because the energy is coming from a slightly higher level. To bring about any change, you need to bring an energy from a level higher than itself.

But then, important thing I just want to now mention, a few important shifts that take place in the journey of transformation or the journey of coming towards the divine. First major shift that takes place is we have many questions. So the shift is I have a question to I am in question. One begins to see, as I think earlier I quoted from Rumi and from the Buddha, everything is in me. All the demons and all the gods, the Buddha says.

So then I become the question. Rather than I have this question, that question, one can begin. There is no harm in asking those questions. If it actually assists you to come closer and closer to your own real understanding, to your own real nature. But argumentation, I am sorry, maybe not the right word, that I have been part of my karma, if you like.

I have been a professor of physics, a professor of philosophy, and a professor of religion for many years in different places. And philosophers and religious people in general, these scholars, I have rarely met a professor of religion who wants to be religious. Similarly, professors of philosophy are not really seriously interested in any wisdom. After philosophy, what is philosophy? Love of wisdom. Literally what it means.

But it has become love of arguments. In fact, I was very sad, and this didn't happen actually when I was actually teaching in that department in Halifax. But two or three years later, they now actually had a course called how to win an argument. This was in the philosophy department. So you see, that's what goes on in the academic world.

If any of you have spent any time in the academia, that's what one does. This is how you publish your papers and this and that. If you are interested, there is a great journal called New Testament Studies, Journal of New Testament Studies. One article in it was whether Peter was left-handed or right-handed. And the argument was, if you remember, when the soldiers come to arrest Christ, one of the soldiers you mention by name in John's Gospel, and Peter, it is said that he took his sword and cut his right ear of the soldier.

So naturally he must be left-handed, that's the argument. Then another paper, well, he could be right-handed because he came from behind. And then the third paper, do you think he was a coward? Why would he come from behind? He has to come from behind. This is what goes on. You'll be really surprised.

You look at any of the academic journals in religion or in philosophy. It's just arguments. Nobody is practicing anything. It's all very fine to occasionally quote Christ, but do we actually practice what he's bringing us to say? So it's rather sad. In any case, what I'm also trying to say, this is a shift that takes place in the journey of any serious searchers.

I have a question to begin to realize that I am in question. But again a reminder that any serious mysteries like this, what we would call a spiritual mystery, almost in principle cannot be solved. Because solution requires an intellectual description of the solution. Scientific mysteries, however complicated they may be, in principle can be solved. In fact, this was in fact one of the reasons for a kind of a friendship that developed between John Wheeler, a highly regarded physicist.

For example, Richard Feynman was one of his students. He and two other people had written a book on theory of gravitation in 1968. But before it was published, they were interested in if there are some problems that they have suggested which can't be solved in principle, then a student ends up wasting two or three years. Now, most graduate students were not eager to find the faults in what the professor has written, but I was not a graduate student. I was actually in the philosophy department at that time at Princeton.

But out of interest in physics, I sat in that course. And so I was able to point out two or three problems that they had framed which were wrongly framed. And that actually was the reason for our friendship. He was very grateful for this. Because really, even for example, a couple of people did their PhD in physics with me, it would have been irresponsible of me as their professor to suggest to them a problem that can't be solved.

They'll waste two or three years. So in principle, a scientific mystery can be solved. But spiritual mysteries, even in principle, cannot be solved. But they can be dissolved. If you remain in contemplation or if you continue doing what you are really engaged in, occasionally they are dissolved.

Then one does not deny the mystery. One actually celebrates it. And here I would show you a little poem again by Rabindranath Tagore, which he wrote only 13 days before his death in his native tongue, Bangala, Bengali. But I say this in English here. In the beginning of my life, with the first rays of the rising sun, I asked, who am I?

Now at the end of my life, with the last rays of the setting sun, I ask, who am I? So you see, the mystery remains. But the mystery carries energy. It certainly changed his life, or anybody else who stays with this. In physics, at least, we say energy is something that can have an action.

Sure as hell, this has action on one's life. So it carries energy. So it's very important to stay with spiritual mysteries, but not to imagine that you can have a solution. For example, scientific mysteries, Einstein solved a mystery. He can publish it.

I don't need to waste my time on it. But spiritual mysteries always remain an individual affair. They are not a public enterprise. They can have a public dimension to this. For example, the noble truce of the Buddha.

The Buddha solved that mystery. In a way, they are published. But that doesn't mean that I don't need to engage with this. So spiritual mysteries are a very different kind of mystery. They are never, even in principle, cannot be solved, but they carry energy.

And for some people, they are dissolved. In fact, then one celebrates the mystery by doing what one is good at. Bach will celebrate it by writing music. Uda Shankar by dancing. Newton by doing physics.

They do whatever they are good at to celebrate the mystery. Poets will write poetry. Musicians will make music. So it's not that the mystery doesn't carry an effect or an energy. Then there is another shift that takes place in the journey, which is from the occupation with the destination to the adventure of the journey itself.

Because the destination, whatever the label we put to it, nirvana, God, enlightenment, it always remains one's impression of an idea. If the Buddha can't say, what is nirvana? And Kras can't say, what is God? How the hell would I know what is God and what is nirvana? So I have read something.

I have heard something. I have an idea. It might even inspire me to try something. That is true. So not to be against the ideas or against knowledge.

But the very important shift that takes place in the journey is a shift from forgetting the destination and just taking interest in the journey. Then every step has an adventure. It can be sometimes frightening. You might run into a lion. Sometimes it can be very enlightening.

You see a grand sunset. So the journey itself becomes interesting. Every step becomes interesting. And in fact, here is a reminder from Maestro Eckhart. He said, if there were a God of whom I had any idea, it will not be worth having him as God.

I pray to God to free me of God. Why? Because one just has all kinds of ideas. In fact, there is a lot of data now gathered, especially in what are called the near-death experiences. People who have actually died, at least officially from a medical point of view, sometimes within a few minutes or within a few hours or sometimes even after a day or so, they come back alive.

So more and more data, if they come from a Buddhist background, they encounter Buddhism-related figures. If they come from a Christian background, they encounter Christianity-related figures, maybe Christ himself. But what I'm saying is that our mind and its understanding and projections are carried even in very high levels, which is also again and again the reason to be really free of that one's conditioning, one's mind, et cetera. So this remark of Maestro Eckhart is not to be taken easily. It's a very important remark.

Then there is another shift that takes place. Initially, a searcher is hardworking, determined, hell-bent, very, very masculine activity. But soon begin to realize that I need to submit. I don't know very much that the energy on the other side is far more higher than anything I can achieve. So it shifts from a determined achieving effort to an acceptance, to a more...

Classically, one would have said, to a more feminine attitude. These days, these words have become rather unacceptable. Because the suggestion in every serious teaching is how to bring both feminine and masculine energies. This is why in yoga, for example, Shiva is the lord of yoga, but one of his classical portrait is Ardhanarishwar, half male, half female. That is the call.

I need to do my part, but can I become receptive? Because that is a great shift from the other side. Actually, maybe I give you an example of a very well-known poet and sage in India, a female. Mira was her name. Many of her songs are recited very often. Gandhi used to be very, very, very favorite to one of her songs from the 16th century.

Now, she was a great devotee of Krishna. She was married to a king, actually. She was a queen. But even her husband had recognized that she is really devoted to Krishna more than anything else. I actually mentioned this in my book on the Yoga Sutras, by the way. This story there, you can check it.

On one occasion, this is quite a common practice in India. Actually, even now, many of the wandering monks or yogis, they would come and be outside the town or outside the village because often they take a vow not to be anywhere more than three or four nights or something like that. They are just transient. They recognize this more and more. It's quite a common practice.

So one of very well-known yogi was sitting outside or came outside the town, and Mira had heard of his name. So she sent a message saying, can I come and see you? He refused to see her because he said, I don't like to be in the presence of females. So she sent a word saying, oh, yogi, I would have thought in the presence of Krishna we are all females. So apparently his heart was so touched, he came running and touched his feet, her feet, and became her disciple.

This is a story well-known in India. The notion being that we have to be receptive and not so much that I am seeking. So here is actually a remark of my own teacher, Madam Jandasal. We are not what we believe ourselves to be. I always say that I seek, but in reality I am sought.

I need to have a force in me coming from a higher level of the cosmos because this spirit that has taken on my body is eager to connect with my body because that is what it needs as an instrument. One forgets that, as if I am the Sartre, but that I am actually being sought. This is much more emphasized out of all the scriptures that I know, which are very few actually that I know. It is much more emphasized in the Koran than anywhere else. Very strong suggestion that if you take even one step towards Allah, Allah will take a hundred steps towards you.

Very strongly emphasized this notion that it is actually, it's the classical expression between grace and effort. I need to make my effort, but then do I need to submit to the grace? That is really in fact the question. Do I in fact realize that the other side is much more intelligent than I am and in fact much more willing to come to me, much more seeking me than I am seeking yet? So that is really very much the end.

And this is where then we again come back to a remark of Maestro Eckhart. A man must become truly poor and as free from his own creaturely will as he was when he was born. And I tell you by the eternal truth that so long as you desire to fulfill even the will of God and have any hankering after eternity and God, for just so long you are not truly poor. He doesn't even want you to fulfill the will of God even because you don't know what that is, strictly speaking. He alone has true spiritual poverty, who wills nothing, knows nothing, desires nothing.

This is Maestro Eckhart. So it's not so easy to follow these directions, but it's good for us to see some real instruction, real teaching, not what goes on in the temples or the churches or the mosques. I'm actually so saddened by religion. As a young man, I was a member of the Communist Party. Our program was to get rid of the priests.

That's what we used to set out to do. And my older brother actually said to me, it serves you right that you should retire as a professor of religion because I was so against religion. So we see there are different meanings of the word religion. Literally, it comes from the Latin religio, to reunite. Can I unite with God?

That's exactly what yoga means. But that is a very high call. But I invite you not to easily dismiss some of these things. And then this is one of the quotations of Christ discovered in Egypt in Oxyrhynchus. I actually visited the place just to find this place.

And so I will probably end with this. You will have pain, but your pain will be turned into joy. This is in John's Gospel. I will come to his other saying in a few moments. A woman has pain when she is giving birth. When her hour has come, but when her child is born, her joy makes her forget her suffering because the human being has been born into the world.

So now you also feel pain. But I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one can take that joy away from you. This is the other shift I wanted to talk about. We usually say, Lord, have mercy. Occasionally one has actually, in fact, done something right and one finds oneself saying, Lord, be joyful.

It's a submission to something. It's as if you have carried out something rightly. So this remark of Christ is a reminder of that. So it is suffering initially. Sacrifice involves that.

But it is meant to be joy. As you know, Ananda, which is joy or bliss, is regarded in the Indian tradition as one of the attributes of ultimate reality. And again, the emphasis on love, which I have more than once said already here, I'm simply quoting from first letter of John. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. God is love and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

Truth is always a very subtle combination of love and knowledge. And here is the remark of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. The knower of truth loves me ardently. Only through constant love can I be known and seen as I really am and entered into. And we have similar remarks.

For example, Maestro Eckhart, what we receive in contemplation we give out in love. And then a more modern says, Father Vasilius on Mount Athos. I had a great fortune to meet him, one of the very, I would say, an enlightened person from my perspective. So this is a more modern remark. For if our truth is not revealed in love, then it is false.

And if our love does not flow from truth, then it is not lasting. This is Father Vasilius. But then the sadness of Christ, I had already quoted this. I stood in the midst of the world and I appeared to them in flesh. I found all of them drunken.

I found none among them thirsty. And my soul was pained for the children of men, for they are blind in their hearts, and they do not see that they come empty into the world, seeking also to leave the world empty. But now they are drunken. When they shake off their wine, then they will repent. Repent is that metanoia that I said, turn around, 180 degrees.

So it is possible for us occasionally to wake up, at least momentarily, then to follow real serious teaching, not simply what gets repeated again and again in mosques and temples and churches. The message of Christ really is, do not rest until you, male or female, become his brothers, so that your God is the same as his God and your father is his father. He invites all who hear, be they from here or there, then or now, not in his own name, but that of God. This is quotation from Roman, to share the likeness of his son, that the son might be the firstborn of many brothers. This is St. Paul in the letter to the Romans, chapter 8.

But as he also said, not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my father. It's all very easy to say Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, but are we actually willing to do the will of his heavenly father as he says? This is in Matthew, chapter 7. Shankara, who is regarded as a very great philosopher in India, I am a little bit, not so great fan of his, but sometimes he says quite remarkable things. This is his famous book.

He says liberation cannot be achieved except by the perception of identity of the individual spirit with the universal spirit. Disease is not cured by saying medicine, medicine. One has to take the medicine. Deliverance is not achieved by repeating the word Brahma, but by directly experiencing Brahma. So it's important to keep this in mind.

Just saying medicine, medicine doesn't cure the disease. So this is the remark of Christ that I said, a non-canonical saying of Christ, discovered in Oxerinkus in Egypt at the end of the 19th century. Let not him who seeks cease until he finds. When he finds he shall be astonished. Astonished he shall reach the kingdom.

And having reached the kingdom, he shall rest. So don't rest until then. That's the suggestion.

Homework

Okay, here is a little exercise if you wish to try it. Please write down if there was anything that especially struck you or surprised you during these ten classes.

Maybe nothing, so that's okay as well. You could say that. So I'm afraid we have to finish this. Thank you very much.

Comments

Kate M
1 person likes this.
I am finding this discussion to be profoundly relevant in my life right now. Thank you for bringing these teachings to us.

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