More about Devotion (2/13/08)

User avatar
Posts: 210
Joined: December 29th, 2004, 9:28 pm

More about Devotion (2/13/08)

Post by anna »

Early on, and indeed throughout much of our acquaintance with this individual, our devotion to him was very superficial, and indeed, in the beginning, it was mostly the glamor of the man, and the rub off of being around one who claimed to have all the answers in this area. In the beginning, glamor can be the hidden lure, and very intoxicating, but it is seldom about spiritual growth. Interestingly, and not insignificantly, we brought to him a certain amount of glamor by being in the Foreign Service and thus useful to him in his efforts to establish a reputation of a peace ambassador of sorts. Kind of a tit for tat arrangement, now that I think about it. Isn’t life like that at the mundane level?

We were not good devotees in any manner whatsoever. Later, in the 80’s, we spent more time visiting this fellow, but in the beginning, he was simply a distraction and fascination, and we did not obligate ourselves nor throw ourselves at his feet. However, when I first sat in an audience and heard him speak in Iceland, he looked across the room at me and our eyes met, and whatever else may be said of this man, and some of it is derogatory now, the meeting of minds was a moment of timelessness and spacelessness for me. It could be likened to an initiation, or a meeting of souls. Indeed, it is probably exactly what initiation is about. Space disappeared, and to this day, I felt that only he and I were in the room and there was no space or time between us. Of course, in the final analysis, and very importantly, I could not see in this man’s eyes what was not already in my eyes, or heart, nor could I experience anything “out there” which was not already “in here” in consciousness – but that understanding would come much, much later. For the moment, he was “special”, and he piqued our interest in a more formal manner of study in this field.

Looking back, I see that what we followed faithfully, for a time, were his teachings, and NOT the man. In other words, already it was about consciousness, not person. I believe firmly that if all seekers would adhere to just this admonition, to follow the teachings faithfully, and not be distracted by the personality or person who projects them, they would be protected from unscrupulous teachers, guides, and the inevitably greedy-for-power followers of the teachers of any of these teachings. This applies to both living teachers, and organized religious teachers as well for that matter.

That caveat was initially for me a huge hurdle, and I went through enormous struggle trying to overcome my reluctance to give up my authority to another person, however “holy” he might have been. And this should not have been so difficult, because I had already done that successfully in my marriage early on, whereby, as in the marital vows, I gave my life to my husband, body and soul. And certainly as a child, and teenager, I was a religious person, embracing Episopalianism devotedly. I talked to God in my prayers, and looked for him in my environment. This reluctance was caution, doubt, skepticism, and what eventually turned out paradoxically to be my innate inner wisdom, which was, in the end, a protective device and the voice of the inner guru, or God, which is within each of us from the beginning guiding us all along. Nevertheless, I went through many years of self-doubt and recrimination for being unwilling to accept another individual person as the keeper of my soul and the authority of my thoughts and beliefs. I learned from this that any teacher or guide that requires you give up your common sense and inner guidance, however confused it may seem to be in the beginning, may be a power seeker, no matter how attractive, knowledgeable, and powerful he or she may appear to be. On the flip side, of course, is the discovery on down the line that one’s thoughts, beliefs, and knowledge is arbitrary and just as good, bad or indifferent as any other human being’s, holy or otherwise. Some may make us a bit more comfortable, some may facilitate ease in getting through living, but none of them is liberation from the tyranny of the separate self and its fears and domination. But I believe I got to that discovery by maintaining autonomy and the subsequent permission to investigate all and sundry ideas and beliefs, only to find all of them were limited. Restricting one’s consciousness to a small and limited environment of rules and beliefs will do just that and not a whole lot more for the seeker of truth and liberation. It may create a comfortable environment amongst similar believers, but it is ultimately a lonely process of finding God within, and discovering that God is not exclusive or limited by anything, or any organization.

Because we were so new at this kind of meditation and practice, we were haphazard, and we read many different teachers’ books, like Krishnamurti, Ramakrishna, Alan Watts, Christmas Humphries, Christian mystics, the Bible, and all other Bibles of the world, both past and present. We were not “tied” to this guru, in other words. In some cases, this holding back may be a hindrance to the serious seeker, but in retrospect, it was wise and helpful to our own process. It kept us in line, and straight. In addition, we, husband and wife, kept each other straight and honest as well. And it moved us through the progressive steps toward self-understanding which I found personally essential in order to begin to escape the selfish egocentricity which dominated my life.

We did not do what is required that the devotee do, and that is to shun all other paths and concentrate solely on the image of the guru and his directions. Indeed, after the first contact with this individual, we did not see him for several years. And during those several years we were to delve into the subject of meditation, devotion, psychic phenomena, religions of all kinds, disciplines of all imaginations, and anything we could get our hands on to read about, hear spoken, or watch. However, during these early years, I would conclude that we were essentially bhaktas, or devotees of God, in many forms, toward many different teachers, in many different ways. In some ways this was wise, particularly if one eventually becomes a seeker of Truth, as opposed to a seeker of a specific incarnation of that truth, such as a specific personal God, but in other ways, it did permit the ego to maintain dominance and arrogance, and the process of surrender by that ego may have been delayed because of that reluctance.

The path of devotion, or Bhakti, to use the Indian term, in some ways is the easiest and the most natural for humankind to fall into, because it does not require any conscious acknowledgment that the ego is the source of the problem, but instead it requires obedience and faithfulness -- in other words, devotion and consistent remembrance of God.. Of course, if done completely and without holding back, and if the teacher and the teachings are pure, it will deplete the sense of self-sufficiency, and therefore egocentricity, because it requires just that, release of self-indulgence and self-righteousness. And early on, it is probably essential for the individual to receive directions and encouragement to behave in a holy and righteous manner. But it does not require inner wisdom, or self-reflection. Instead it requires good behavior and adherence to the rules laid down. In this manner, it is the “outer” path of devotion to Jesus, and Jesus is in all ways, identical to that of the greatest Hindu teachers, in that Jesus is considered to be God incarnate, as are some of the Hindu teachers as well. If you can get back far enough from your conditioning, you will see the logic of this position, for you will recognize that the function itself of devotion is important, not the name to whom one is devoted, because names are just words on the tongue and in the mind. But the concept the name embodies is all important for the devotee. And in this case, Jesus, or whatever name substitutes for Jesus, is actually a name for God, and God is ultimately the focus of devotion. Of course, proper and complete devotion results in loss of ego, because the mind is so fully focused and obedient to God that the ego is subsumed by the focus, so in the end, as all paths so stipulate, they all end up the same, with loss of self-centered separateness and merging with the beloved, which in turn, brings God within. The greatest of saints, from whatever discipline, all lose themselves in the bliss or ecstasy of God. It is all the same, only the names have been changed.

And so too does the more mental discipline of understanding result in immersion in God and loss of the self-centered separateness, but it is done through understanding as opposed to devotion and retains intellectual discrimination which in turn can protect the seeker from foolish teachers. Still, in the end, the seeker is actually all there is, and the projected images, paths, and teachings all come from the seeker, only the seeker may or may not know this. With this last statement, of course, I am admitting and confirming that each of our paths is directed and created by each of us according to our unique set of criteria, and thus, whether or not, or when, I submitted myself to an outward incarnation of God, in any form, was uniquely my own path, and no one can follow that path, except in their own unique way as well. All paths lead home to God, however circuitous they may be, or however direct. But each path is unique to each seeker by virtue of the fact that it is that seeker’s unique process. We are each the makers of our universe.

So, I bounced around from one discipline to another, originally reading J. Kirshnamurti very early on, and actually meeting the fellow one summer when S and I visited a great aunt who lived in Monterey and was a follower of Krishnamurti. The world is a strange place; because until I met this great aunt, who I never even knew existed until that summer in Monterey in 1973, I had never heard of Krishnamurti, and yet here was a 85 year old woman who had been in the thick of his most powerful and famous years at Ojai and was actually conversant with the man! Again, one stumbles into things, and has only to keep ones eyes open and listen to see the doors that open. As an aside, to give you an idea of just how ignorant I was, when she wrote me about this man, I responded that I had heard of the Rama Krishnas, and I was interested in learning further from her when we arrived there. Ah, my, the stupidity!

In sum, the above all lead me eventually to the obvious conclusion that I have finally reached over all these many years, and that is that nothing happens outside of us, but everything happens inside, and thus, when these things occur, there is no one to thank or blame but oneself, or actually, God within oneself. It is all literally a projection, and thus should not be quite so surprising that things happen at the right time and as we expect or hope, or wish, or dread (they are all determinants after all). There was one teacher that said to S one day, when S exclaimed how some kind of miraculous synchronous event had happened, “It IS possible that YOU made it happen, you know?!” It is always, in the end, from within. Didn’t someone once say “Heaven is within?”

Here is a small example of how we are the makers of our world, literally. Early on in my journey I would begin to hear in songs actual songs to me from God, the words would be his, written for me, and played for me. These were popular songs at the time, but they would suddenly appear at appropriate moments on the radio, or in answer to a prayer, or a yearning, or a fear, or a longing. Moreover, the words of the song would be absolutely appropriate to the present issue. Years later, I began to hear the words that I spoke, occasionally, at the exact same moment, or a second later, repeated by a spokesperson on the radio or television. And just the other day, as S stated a full sentence, a newsman, verbatim, repeated the same sentence in full, right along with him as he spoke it.

Now, as this is becoming progressively more frequent, and more elaborate, one can only conclude that consciousness is NOT separate, but instead fluid and connected. Secondly, the consciousness is here and now, and not time bound, because these events are synchronized. In other words, here is proof that the consciousness of the “other” speaker is somehow connected to “my” consciousness, and as all the great ones state that there is no “other”, there is just God being, then this is a good example of proof that this is so.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth