A Path, What Path?

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… Yes, 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

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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 

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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

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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

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More quotes and pointers on the subject of the spiritual path (READ MORE…)

 

The Path

A monk asked: 
« What is the true path on earth? » 
Fayan said: 
« Not a single path on earth is true. » 

~ Fayan Wenyi

 

I’d like to tell you a story, a parabolic tale I wrote long ago. It’s a story that has already been posted here on its own. It is called ‘The Truth Seeker’, but could have been called ‘The Path’, as it exposes, describes some of the stages we find along the spiritual path. This expression has been used, overused in spiritual circles. There seems to be so many paths, so many avenues of understanding. The Christian path, the Sufi path, the Advaita path, the tantric path, the direct path, the progressive path. The story that I’m about to tell you was written in Madras, on the grounds of the Theosophical Society, where the young Krishnamurti was ‘discovered’. Twenty years later, he rejected all organisations built around him and pronounced these famous words: “I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.” So what is this path we so often hear about? What is its reality? The title ‘The Truth Seeker’ gives us a clue. It would be reasonable to say that a path, spiritually speaking, is everything that results from the activity of seeking truth. That’s one way of seeing it, but in that case, as seeking can be endless and so often leading nowhere, such a path is really not a path at all. Let’s see what our story has to say: 

     « A man, Admita, was living in a harsh and hostile desert. Surrounded by sand and swirling winds, he led a life of wandering without help or hope. He has well heard of stories that described places of lush greenery and great beauty, where valleys, forests, meadows, rushing streams and great rivers were home for countless animals, where mountains stood above deep blue seas, where the sun was warm and the air filled with a gentle breeze. He did not believe that such places really existed, but in front of so much loneliness and adversity, he could not help thinking about it and hoping to discover this wonderful land. » …

A playful exploration into the nature of the spiritual path (READ MORE…)

 

 

This Moment…

Here is a reminder from Joan Tollifson. It is necessary and terribly efficient to look into these matters for ourselves. This is why I like to share here the parts of a spiritual teaching that sounds like ‘something to do’, something to experiment and verify for ourselves:

What is happening in this bodymind right now? Reading words on a computer screen, hearing sounds, seeing shapes and colors, breathing. And what else is going on? Is there expectation, curiosity, excitement, boredom, restlessness? Can we take a moment to pause and be aware of how it is right now, without trying to modify or correct it in any way, but simply being awake to the bare actuality of this moment, just as it is?
~ Joan Tollifson

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Further exploring on the subject:

It is extremely difficult to be aware of dullness, to be aware of greed, to be aware of ill-will, ambition, and so on. The very fact of being aware of ‘what is’ is truth. It is truth that liberates, not your striving to be free. Thus, reality is not far, but we place it far away because we try to use it as a means of self-continuity. It is here, now, in the immediate. The eternal or the timeless is now and the now cannot be understood by a man who is caught in the net of time.”
~ J. Krishnamurti

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Happiness is the absence of resistance to what is.
It is the highest spiritual practice.
However, it is not a practice of the mind;
it is the ever-present nature of Myself, Awareness
.”
~ Rupert Spira

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You must leave behind you the idea of improving. There is nothing to be found, nothing to achieve. Searching and wanting to achieve something are the fuel for the entity you believe yourself to be. Don’t project an idea of reality, of freedom. Be simply aware of the facts of your existence without wanting change. Seeing things in this way will bring you a state of deep relaxation both physical and psychological. Even this state becomes an object of perception and dissolves in your observation where there is no longer observer or state observed. …
The only way out is to simply observe
.”
~ Jean Klein

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Traffic sounds, bird songs, an airplane flying over, wind rustling the leaves, a television in another room, children’s voices, a dog barking. Shapes, colors. The movement of breathing, the sensation of contact with the chair, a cool breeze gently touching the skin, a tingling in the feet, maybe an uneasiness in the belly or a tightness in the throat, perhaps a vague sense of anxiety or discontent, these words registering in the mind.

Does this present happening take effort, or is it all happening effortlessly by itself?

This moment is utterly simple and straightforward, totally obvious, completely unavoidable, effortlessly being just exactly the way it is, however that is. It may be painful or unpleasant, but there is nothing confusing about the present moment until we start thinking.”
~ Joan Tollifson

 

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Joan Tollifson’s reminders are from her essay: ‘How Simple Can This Be?

The picture is from: Sasin Tipchai / Pixabay

Bibliography:
– ‘Nothing to Grasp’ – by Joan Tollifson – (Nonduality Press)
– ‘The First and Last Freedom’ – by J. Krishnamurti – (Rider Publishing)
– ‘Presence’, Vol. I & II – by Rupert Spira (Non-Duality Press)
– ‘The Book of Listening’ – by Jean Klein – (Non-Duality Press)

Websites:
– Joan Tollifson
J. Krishnamurti
Rupert Spira
Jean Klein

Suggestion:
Fleeing to God (other pointers from the blog)

 

Blown Out

We continue our series of texts or essays on different subjects of spiritual interest. The question here is about ‘having a spiritual experience’, and delving into the nature of what is called ‘awakening’…

 

There is a safe place in view of all, but difficult of approach,
where there is no old age nor death, no pain nor disease.
It is what is called nirvāṇa, or freedom from pain, or perfection;
it is the safe, happy, and quiet place which the great sages reach.
That is the eternal place, in view of all, but difficult of approach.

~ Uttaradhyana Sutra, 81-4 (Buddhism)

 

Nothing much, really. Something just like peeking out of the window. But let’s not be overly disdainful, for this can bend the course of a life and change it in a profound way. To have a spiritual experience is a blessing, a call, maybe a rehearsal for the final dissolution. It leaves you puzzled, wanting to understand, and above all, searching to have it again in the future. It can be just a flavour suddenly lingering at the back of your mind, or a spectacular awakening, or anything in between. In all cases, you meet something new, that is outside any known experience, and yet has a familiar flame, like an old forgotten memory. Above all, peace, love, and happiness are attached to it. It is the DNA of any genuine experience, its vital core, and what makes it so desirable. After all, do we want anything in life but a lasting happiness? It can last for seconds, minutes, or days. It comes as a grace, unexpected, uninvited. One important characteristic is that it fades away, finally disappears. Otherwise we wouldn’t call it an ‘experience’. A spiritual experience is an awakening that failed.

An essay to delve into the nature of Awakening (READ MORE…)

 

Suffering Leads to Joy

This is the first of a series of texts or essays that will be presented in the future. Different subjects of spiritual interest will be explored in turn. Writing this text started with answering a simple question: ‘How did it all begin for me?’…

 

“Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come! come!”

~ Rumi

 

How did it all begin for me? This. This deep interest in finding out what life is about. This love of Truth. This spiritual search. In what cradle did it come to existence, in what fertile soil did it come to grow? I remember how acute the desire for change was as a young man. For this was all there was to it at the time. A big, raw, sincere desire to change, to be different. I was unhappy, dissatisfied with what I was. Surely it was the first seed, the primary cause of this journey. The path leading to that change in myself I had no idea about. I had to feel my way along, through random books, exotic places. Except for one intuition though, that there was something more to life than finding happiness solely through acquisitions, through changing the person that I happened to be. Otherwise I would have gone for it in a more acute way. Instead, I turned towards some kind of spiritual call, knowing nothing of it. I rushed into a tunnel of unknowing.

An essay on the subject of suffering. (READ MORE…)