The question of the ‘spiritual path’ is a difficult one, that seems to draw different points of view and approaches, both from students and teachers. I have gathered here many quotes and pointers on and around this subject, from various spiritual teachers and poets of the eternal and the infinite. I hope that this will bring some clarity, or at least give a better overview of this ‘thing’ we call the Path… But what path?
“How shall I cross the ocean of the world?
Where is the path?
What way must I follow?
I know not, Master.
Save me from the wound of the world’s pain.”
~ Adi Shankara
This is an excerpt of the famous discourse Krishnamurti gave in 1929 the day when he announced the dissolution of the Order of the Star, the organisation built around his person:
“I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices.”
~ J. Krishnamurti
“In the direct approach the premise is that you are the truth, there is nothing to achieve. Every step to achieve something is going away from it. The ‘path’, which strictly speaking is not a path from somewhere to somewhere, is only to welcome, to be open to the truth, the I am. When you have once glimpsed your real nature it solicits you. There is therefore nothing to do, only be attuned to it as often as invited. There is not a single element of volition in this attuning. It is not the mind which attunes to the ‘I am’ but the ‘I am’ which absorbs the mind.”
~ Jean Klein
“The mind that seeks happiness is like a current in the ocean that longs for water. The mind that resists suffering is like a current in the ocean trying to escape from the water. See what happens to your longing and your suffering when this becomes clear. This understanding is the true alchemy, not the transformation of one experience into another, but rather the revelation of the true nature of all experience.”
~ Rupert Spira
“No man desires anything so eagerly
as God desires to bring men to the knowledge of Himself.”
~ Meister Eckhart
“Whether you plan or don’t, life goes on. But in life itself a little whorl arises in the mind, which indulges in fantasies and imagines itself dominating and controlling life. Life itself is desireless. But the false self wants to continue — pleasantly. Therefore it is always engaged in ensuring one’s continuity. Life is unafraid and free. As long as you have the idea of influencing events, liberation is not for you: The very notion of doership, of being a cause, is bondage.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“We can travel on the path of the individual, the truth seeker, practicing and seeking and, in parallel, on the path of the truth lover for whom there is no need to do anything. We can move back and forth from one path to the other. More and more, we remain as a truth lover and forget the truth seeker.”
~ Francis Lucille
“Zazen is itself Enlightenment, one minute of sitting, one minute of being Buddha.”
~ Dogen Zenji
“A so-called ‘spiritual path’ is a means, however unconscious, of avoiding freedom, not finding it. Here and now, in this very moment, is where freedom exists, not in some imagined location farther along the imagined path. This is not to say that followers of paths never find freedom. Some do, but only in awakening from the escapist dream of the quest, the path, and the method.”
~ Robert Saltzman
“There is no fixed path to enlightenment. Enlightenment is not a destination, a goal, the final resting place at the end of a long journey –that’s the mind’s version of enlightenment. Enlightenment is infinitely closer than anything you could imagine.
This is very good news. It means that nobody is the authority on your path – no teacher, no guru, no religious leader. It means that nobody can tell you the right ‘way’ for you. It means that you cannot go wrong, even if you think you’ve gone wrong. It means that nothing that happens can ever lead you off the path, for the path is whatever happens.”
~ Jeff Foster
“Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love.”
“What you are longing for lives at the source of your longing. It will never be found as an object of longing. You will never find it. … Your longing is made out of the very stuff for which you are longing. Remember the Italian monk: ‘Lord, Thou art the love with which I love Thee.’ …Your longing will never be fulfilled, it can only be dissolved, dissolved in its source, dissolved in that from which it rises. You are that for which you are in search.”
~ Rupert Spira
“Here’s a little heresy for the Sabbath: Nothing you can ever do, even if you do it a hundred thousand times in the most sacred spot on Earth, can bring you closer to the brilliant Light of Being that you are. That you are! Already.
Practice. Path. Method. Journey. Quest. (Usually preceded by ‘my’ and ‘spiritual’.) All are equally guaranteed to propel you away from what you seek.
Krishnamurti used to say, “Truth is a pathless land.” We loved his “pathless path” the way Zenners love their “gateless gate”. But both these cultified terms still leave one with the notion of a ‘way’ and a destination, even though they strive for the very opposite.
Nowadays we hear a great deal about the “direct path” to awakening or enlightenment, but I reject this term too, on the same grounds. Truth is indeed a pathless land – but for some reason we find it impossible to accept that this land cannot be reached by paths or practices. We are time and motion junkies. Until exhaustion sets in.
So here’s my memo:
Please just rest.
Rest with this, right here, now.
Relax and enjoy the View
for the View is you,
naked and sacred.”
~ Miriam Louisa Simons
“The measure of our courage is the measure of our willingness to embrace disappointment, to turn towards it rather than away, the understanding that every real conversation of life involves having our hearts broken somewhere along the onward way and that there is no sincere path we can follow where we will not be fully and immeasurably let down and brought to earth, and where what initially looks like a betrayal, eventually puts real ground under our feet.”
~ David Whyte
“If you want to know the true self, there is no path to it. What you seek is here now. Just stop encumbering this moment with theories, as if more conjecture and discussion would eventuate in ‘Truth’. It won’t. That’s what you called “hanging on with white knuckles, refusing to let go.” Go ahead, man. Let go. You know nothing about ultimate matters, and no one else does either. ‘The whole universe begins right now, in each second.’”
~ Robert Saltzman
“To go to Him is the essence of ignorance,
to rest in Him is the essence of Knowledge.”
~ Ibn’ Arabi
Head painting by Ivan Shishkin (1832 – 1898)
– Smaller pictures by Alain Joly
– ‘The Ten Thousand Things’ – by Robert Saltzman – (Non-duality Press)
– ‘Presence‘, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira – (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘Freedom from the Known’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Rider Books)
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