There were so many people offering so many paths that one had to really think deeply before selecting the path to travel.
Let me share some of my experiences:
When I asked the question, if I am God, the One that created everything, how could the material world that I created somehow become greater than me causing me to forget who I was?
The answers that I received would fill volumes of mumbo jumbo all leading to “follow me and pay me and I can help you remember”.
Then I encountered the “All is one” philosophy. No beginning, no end, no differentiation.
One evening we’re coming back in a van from a spiritual gathering and I’m sitting next to an all-is-one-er rambling on and on. The guy was holding a papaya and I asked him if I could see it. He gave it to me. I then told him that I definitely believed his philosophy and told him that since it’s “all one” I would eat his papaya and he could eat my shoe. He couldn’t get out of the van fast enough, with his papaya of course.
A couple of days later while I’m working at a little vegetarian restaurant in Lahaina, an Asian guy in white robes with long black hair and a long black beard walks into the gazebo. I ask him who he is and he tells me he’s God.
So I ask him if I could come outside to see him better and he says, “yes my son”. So, standing next to him I ask him if he’s the one that created the heavens and earth and there’s nothing that he cannot do? And again he says, “yes my son”.
So being the jerk that I was back then I punched him in the nose. As he sat on the ground with his nose bleeding I told him that being God he should be able to do a really simple thing like stopping the bleeding. He created a dust storm as he left and we never saw him again.
Then I encountered the Buddhists. They were mellow and easy going but preaching that they and I did not exist. My question was simple: if I do not exist who are you speaking to? No reply and gone in a flash.
So, still searching, I somehow wind up somewhere where a man is speaking about, what I considered more acceptable ideas and I was all ears.
He said that humility, pridelessness, nonviolence, tolerance, simplicity, approaching a bona fide spiritual master, cleanliness, steadiness and self-control, renunciation of the objects of sense gratification, absence of false ego, the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease, evenmindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events, constant and unalloyed devotion to God, detachment from the masses, accepting the importance of self-realization, and search for the Absolute Truth was real knowledge and anything to the contrary was ignorance.
Needless to say I needed further explanations so I humbly inquired.
I was told that humility meant that one should not be anxious for the satisfaction of being honored by others. He said that the material conception of life makes us very eager to receive honor from others. But a person in perfect knowledge – who knows that he is not the body but the person residing within the body – anything, honor or dishonor, pertaining to the body is useless.
Nonviolence is generally taken to mean not killing or destroying the body. But actually, non-violence means not to put others into distress. I raised the question of eating plant foods and causing violence to the plants. The answer was simple: offer your fruits, grains and vegetables to God and He will purify those foods by removing the karmic reaction.
Tolerance means that one should be practiced to receive insult and dishonor from others because when one is engaged in the advancement of spiritual knowledge, there will be many insults and dishonor coming his way. Despite this, we should remain tolerant and continue or progress with determination.
Simplicity means that without diplomacy one should be so straight –forward and still disclose the real truth even to an enemy.
With regard to the acceptance of spiritual master, approaching him with simplicity and humility is essential because without his instructions and guidance one cannot progress on the true spiritual path.
Cleanliness was a two-fold process: clean the external body by bathing regularly and internal cleaning by thinking of and relating to God (more about this at the end).
Steadiness means that one should not waiver to make progress in spiritual life and not accept anything, which is detrimental to the path of spiritual progress.
Renunciation means rejecting anything, which is against the path of spiritual progress.
The senses are so strong that they are always anxious for sense gratification and one should not cater to these demands, which are not necessary. Rome wasn’t built in a day and true spiritual progression can take lifetimes. The good news is whatever progression one makes in a given lifetime carries over to the next and you pick up where you left off.
But it has to start somewhere! The first point is to try to control the tongue. Once doing this there is every possibility of controlling the other senses.
False ego means seeing oneself as the vehicle (the body) and not the driver (the soul).
The cycle of birth, old age, disease and death is endless unless one seriously considers making advancement in spiritual life. Without that one’s desires have a strong influence in one’s next life.
To put it another way, every living entity eats, sleeps, mates and defends. It is the human form’s ability to approach God that keeps him from acquiring the body of a lower form in the next life.
Happiness and distress are a given in material life. One has to view their comings and goings as normal and not react with excitement or depression. It happened because it was supposed to. Oh well.
What came next was something that I never ever had a clue about. It had to do with the make-up of a spiritually advanced person and the qualities that he exhibits. Some were new and some were repeated.
Fearlessness, purification of one’s existence, cultivation of spiritual knowledge, self-control, performance of sacrifice, austerity and simplicity, non-violence, truthfulness, freedom from anger, renunciation, tranquility, aversion to fault finding, compassion and freedom from acquiring more than one needs, gentleness, modesty, steady determination, vigor, forgiveness, fortitude, cleanliness, freedom from envy and the passion for honor, belong to godly men endowed with divine nature.
Growing up I learned about the 10 Commandments and though that was the only requirements to follow to remain sane and have some sense or morality. I was mistaken.
As I walked this path I was exposed to four more standards to follow to achieve true spirituality. There are three modes of activities in life. We can live in the modes or goodness, passion, or ignorance and for most of us all three are a part of us.
In the mode of goodness, all of the above qualities are prevalent. In the mode of ignorance drinking, night-clubbing, and having an unlimited passion for sex are key. In the mode of ignorance, being dirty and living like a bum sum it up pretty good.
But in the mode of goodness on the rode to true spiritual growth these four standards came my way:
NO GAMBLING: Gambling creates agitation and affects whether one can be at ease in his/her mind.
NO INTOXICANTS: We usually turn to drugs and/or alcohol because we cannot face the austerities of life. They serve no other purpose other than to cloud our minds and take us away from reality.
NO ILLICIT SEX: If you are not married it does not happen. Yes, people live together without going through a “marriage” ceremony and that is considered a marriage.
NOT EATING ANYTHING THAT HAD A FACE OR A MOTHER AND EGGS: Nature provides enough plant based and organic dairy foods to sustain life and to remain fit and healthy. Eat what can be offered to God and refrain from what cannot. Understand that there are scriptures out there that go well beyond the Bible and present more of what you have just read.
In Psalms it states that the connection with God if manifested by praising Him through chanting His names. Bear in mind that His names refer to different aspects of His personality and I covered that in my last article, “A Spiritual Perspective”.
Here are a few more.
Gauranga means The One With The Golden Effulgence.
Hari means The Personality of God
Bol means chant
So try this;
Literal translation: Praise the Holy Name of the One with the Golden Effulgence.
The good news is that it can be done silently within you anywhere. It will bring peace and start your sincere connection to Him. And, if you add music when you are at home it gets better.
If you would like more information please feel free to contact me.
This path, to say the least, was a difficult one to embark upon due to the fact that it went against everything I had been doing my whole life. But, when you realize that the world is not centered around you and arrogance and doing whatever feels good isn’t always the best way to go, change comes when it must. I have no regrets.
In accepting a bona fide spiritual teacher I soon learned that among many thousands of saintly teachers, hardly one perfect teacher or spiritual master is to be found. There are numerous individuals qualified to teach certain aspects of the Absolute Truth, but there are few individuals who are truly conversant in all aspects of spiritual understanding.
Those who are serious about realizing and experiencing the Absolute Truth in total as opposed to merely being content or satisfied with a limited or partial spiritual understanding are advised to seek out such a spiritual master and learn from him. The easiest way to find this person is to pray to the Lord in your heart to let that person enter your life.
The one thing that my spiritual master emphasized from day one was as follows:
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
In essence, the pleasure that comes from having this binding, internal relationship with God makes it so that despite being IN the world, one is not OF the world.