Read the first part of this talk The Joy You Seek is You
In my first article I said that if you start your journey believing that the entire goal of Self-inquiry, meditation and all spiritual practice is an attainment of bliss, then you will easily be disappointed time and again during your spiritual journey. The goal of meditation is not to attain a state or phenomenon, but only to look.
You don’t have to beg for bliss or joy or to seek experiences, phenomena or any altered states of higher consciousness. I completely accept what my beingness shows me. I don’t want to transform into anything apart from what I am. I want to achieve nothing, nor change anything. I only want to look and feel deeply. That is my only intention in meditating.
Through one-pointed abidance in the sense of being, the “I am”, what starts as a looking through mind slowly transcends that very instrument and becomes looking through Awareness. Somehow the concept of looking through the mind gets dropped along the way, as the mind gets more and more purified and subtle. The looking has to be beyond the mind for it to be complete and total; only then is it called deep. When the looking becomes perfect through purified consciousness, the truth is finally reflected (as in the inner lake of bliss, discussed in last article.) It is then known that there was nothing to attain, to achieve or to acquire. We were always the joy we were seeking and searching for. All doubts completely vanish. Regardless of some practitioners’ belief that “nothing needs to be done,” the looking (journey into the lake of the heart) was very much needed, even though we always were that joy.
Similarly if you start your journey believing that the goal of Self-inquiry, meditation and spiritual practice is the end of all suffering (as most believe it to be,) then you too will be disillusioned. You will meet failure time and again if you think you can escape anything, whether pain or pleasure, through meditation or Self-inquiry. The fact is you simply CANNOT escape it. You will have to accept it completely, and surrender to it. Not even the knowledge that I am SAT-CHIT-ANANDA makes the pain or suffering go away.
It was the Buddha who said that Enlightenment is the end of all suffering. This statement has perhaps created one of the biggest misconceptions in the world of religion and spirituality, contrary to what is actually experienced.
Just look around you. Don’t you see the amount of suffering taking place? The manner in which animals are treated, the way small children are exploited, the way humans are
treating each other, the level of intolerance leading to anger, rage and violence, the bloody wars that are fought in the name of religion, spreading hatred and division. Yet we have developed a habit of turning our eyes away from such unpleasant situations. We want to escape seeing. Escaping has become a habit. This is also the way we deal with our own fears and sorrows. We simply look away from them and think we can escape. It reminds me of the story of the hare who closes his eyes when a tiger attacks him. By merely closing his eyes, he believes he can evade the tiger’s attack. But the danger is never gone. The tiger is ready to pounce on the terrified hare at any moment. Similarly we too will always be disturbed and affected by what happens around us, even though we may choose to look away. Everything is so subtly connected to everything else.
Buddha obviously didn’t make a wrong statement. It is our understanding of him which is not correct, because we use our minds to arrive at every understanding. If we try to understand Buddha through our mind then we seek what our mind wants, which is complete happiness/joy with not a moment of sorrow or pain. The mind wants you to believe that this is possible through engaging in various spiritual pursuits, but this is far from the truth. You will be disillusioned keeping this goal in your heart. Undertaking a spiritual journey as a means to evade suffering and escape from it is starting the journey on the wrong foot itself. The looking will never be deep or complete enough because it is already biased to start with. This looking which is the result of deep meditation is to be done without thinking of what it can bring, only with the complete acceptance of what there is.
Here we have already assumed that all of our problems, suffering and pain will disappear altogether. On the contrary however the spiritual journey and awakening may actually result in tremendous pain and suffering, more than what you had ever imagined. How can that not be? As you continue your journey within, you will become highly sensitive to the suffering of those around you. It will twist and turn your heart, tear it into a thousand pieces to see an animal being tortured or killed for food or to know that a child has been sacrificed in the name of religion or forced to beg or become a prostitute. You will feel deeply for those who are crying in pain due to terminal illness. How can we not feel this? The knowledge that we are one being; one Consciousness interconnecting each one of us will make us feel and relate deeply to the pain of all sentient beings.
We don’t really have to practice Love or compassion as some guided spiritual disciplines advocate. How can we do that? Nobody can teach you how to Love and feel. It’s so unnatural to even suggest it. We don’t need to make any effort to reconnect with each other. We are already one singular Consciousness which was never separate in the first place. We have only to do the real seeing which we have avoided doing earlier. This avoidance has resulted in us becoming insensitive, with dull intellects. We hardly live as humans. We start to live almost like machines, dictated by past patterns on how to think, act and react. Even our spiritual quest becomes a pattern, often a programming. Our minds chase techniques of meditation or repetitive and endless recitation of mantras, all of which is mechanical. I read somewhere that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. I wonder whether that is really true. It would be more appropriate to say that
we are programmed robots trying to be spiritual beings, while we continue to fail being good humans to start with.
We have stopped feeling deeply because we have stopped seeing and observing deeply. However, if you are ready to accept that you will have to face more pain, more fear and suffering, then Self-inquiry and meditation will open your heart. You will reach the lake of the heart effortlessly and be able to see clearly your true reflection. This is not to imply that you must invite pain and suffering into your life. I am just saying, be ready to accept and embrace them should they visit you. Give them your attention. Not to the thoughts, but only the feelings. When you are attentive only to HOW it feels, rather than WHY, the entire inward movement will be known. This movement is known to have an origin and an end. And if you are intensely watchful you will know that where this movement ends, you will find yourself as deep peace and Love. You may feel great sensitivity; great compassion, great pain and great sorrow, and that will open the floodgates of love and bliss within you. Yet you will remain completely untouched by all of this. You will know that the inner arising and falling movement happens only on the surface and doesn’t disturb the peace, the depth at which you truly remain; much like how waves arise and fall on the ocean’s surface without disturbing the calm depths. The waves and the pain simply dissolve and melt. The greatest of all tsunamis seems to merge and retire into the abyss of deep silence.
The fate of every wave, every suffering is that silence. Silence which cannot be described, nor measured. That timeless silence is YOU.
True liberation doesn’t mean the absence of pain, fear, suffering, or sorrow. It means their transcendence. It means you have the inner strength to see them off and the knowledge that there is no cross you can’t bear. It means nothing can shake you. Suffering then becomes your teacher. It unlocks the door towards what lies beyond. It leads you to Love, and finally to that deep timeless silence where you lie and rest.
~ Rajiv Kapur