Spiritual Paths Within Spiritual Paths
Worlds within worlds.
When we first encounter spiritual paths, they seem like a way out of this collective, self-opinionated, violent and manic world. It’s been that way for a very long time 😀
We look for some sort of peace, knowledge and wisdom. Spiritual centres are quiet, orderly places, and offer a good atmosphere in which to be.
And so we acquire a new lifestyle…
We learn to meditate. Be at peace. Go slowly. Know how to control our passion and so work harmoniously and effectively with others. Acquire knowledge leading to wisdom. Understand that we cannot control how others feel about us, which is only a problem if it bothers us.
Gradually, however, irritations start to ooze out. This is a natural occurrence in organisations, as our concepts are squeezed and explode, and we become irritated by simple things such as the way someone is sitting! (a personal story: I once discovered that another student had become extremely annoyed by where I chose to sit …) As a result, spiritual centres becomes a catalyst or accelerator for our lingering emotions, as we see them more clearly (unless we have become good actors!) We notice more projections of self-conscious mindfulness, strange behaviour, holy, pious, self-aggrandised, makes-me-want-to-talk-dirty, smug- b**ll*sh*tting! Or is that just me? :D:D:D The important point here is that I was starting to notice my own reactions and fixations – and it was that which was causing me suffering: I had lost the inner joy that I had been trying so carefully and pretentiously to cultivate.
Anyway, that’s when we start to recognise and admit that we are not in inner peace. It’s just a stage. We just cannot hold onto the act any longer, and now we ask the question, “What is it really all about?”
The Dharma is about eliminating suffering, but first we have to feel the suffering and truly want to do something about it – not just attend teachings in order to be able to repeat quotations and appear all-knowing. We need to ask honest questions.
You see, many centres do not explain the Dharma completely: they cannot as it all depends on the teacher’s attitude and how they relates (or give into) the students. We may find ourself surrounded by the views of a lower vehicle; holders of “do’s and don’t’s” as opposed to “why’s and how’s”. It’s tricky to recognise which vehicle one has entered.
We begin by asking ourselves, “What is true inner peace? How do we recognise it?” With this questioning and dissatisfaction, doors close and doors open: we may find it’s the time to move on when we can no longer talk to others.
There are nine levels (or vehicles) in Buddhism, each expounding the truth and complete in its own right: from a higher level, the one below is not wrong, but is no longer totally satisfying. As an example: someone may say that they have disturbances in their mind. A lower vehicle would advise shamata practice of watching the breath to calm the mind – which is true. At the Vajrayana level, the practice of Guru yoga would be recommended, in order to purify. From the Dzogchen point of view, we merely ask what it is that is recognising the disturbance.
What is true inner peace? We gradually refine our understanding and recognise that this is pure consciousness; emptiness itself. This realisation may take place on a cushion, or while sitting in a traffic jam: when nothing can disturb you, the mind remains perfect and beautiful.
We gradually move from a dark place into a glow that naturally radiates (even towards the smug- b**ll*sh*tters 😀 ) I know – I’ve been there 😀
Without experiencing our fixations,
we cannot empathise.
Unshakeable inner peace.
That is perfect happiness.