We all start our spiritual journues by reading words of the great yogis, the great teachers, the great Jnanis such as Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, Robert Adams, Muktananda, Papaji, Lakshmana, Osho, Jesus, Buddha, and we all gain some sense of peace, or sense that we are in the presence of the deepest teaching about spirit and God.
Have you any idea what the word “self” points to? Every word, if it is real in any sense, has to point to some experience, some object, something that is manifest in the world or inside of our self. But have you ever found an object or entity, or feeling inside of yourself and you can call self or soul? Have you ever seen an angel? Have you ever seen God? Have you ever seen an atom, an electron, or neutron particle?
As my longtime friend and professional philosopher Lee Werth has opined, all of these words are convenient fictions. That is, in a sense they allow for us to have some operational control of the world, over the elements and forces that make the world go round, but we never see any of these things really. They have only a conceptual existence, believing in them, allows us to do things in the world, but that does not prove the truthfulness of our concepts, only that the concepts allow us to do things. They are useful concepts, useful models about how the world works.
But in the end, what do each of these great teachers from Ramana to Robert Adams, to Jesus and Buddha finally conclude? Is it not that they all talk about arriving at a place of silence? By silence, we usually think that they mean a kind of samadhi or ecstatic mind, without thought, where we are in bliss or something like that, when really what they are talking about is being in thoughtless, undisturbed peace. We are we are not plagued by thinking or emotions or desires of any sort. In this place we are just immersed in our own sense of beingness, of being alive, of being sentient, and yet not doing any task, including thinking. We are just resting in our own basic nature, what Nisargadatta calls beingness, without any object in that beingness. There are no thoughts, images, no emotions, no ideas, no speculations. Just no thinking, no emotions, just resting in our own beingness.
For Nisargadatta, the first idea was the one given to him by his teacher, Siddharameshwar, who stated, “You are not your body.” That’s it! Just this one simple idea. Just understand you are not your body. Contemplate this concept over and over again. After three years of contemplating this truth, Nisargadatta reached enlightenment, just as Ramana did when he realized at age 16 he was not his body, he was eternal spirit. Just spirit. Spirit untouched by anything that happens to the body. Spirit cannot be cut, cannot be burned, cannot be harmed in any way by whatever happens to the body. This too was Nisargadatta’s understanding, but Nisargadatta progressed from this first understanding.
Yes, and I tell stories too, stories of self or God realization, divine love, human love, Shakti, the power that knows the way, and these stories allow you to experience all kinds of states and things you never dreamed of experiencing, such as Shakti, the life force, God, human and divine love, emptiness, the Void, the light of consciousness. All call all of these your spiritual mansion of a thousand rooms. They are there for you to experience, to enjoy, or to suffer through. But all of these are just stories, although with a real degree of experientiality, but which can uplift you and take you out of the suffering of the mundane world.
Shakti is real, but only for someone who accepts Shakti as real, as a convenient fiction which one can feel, enjoy, and manipulate, that gives life a higher meaning or truth. Ditto, all the other spiritual concepts, all of which can be experienced, such as God, grace, emptiness, the light of consciousness. All are added onto your basic alive awareness, which is the final truth. But enjoy all the spiritual worlds while you can because they lift out of the suffering of immersion in the mundane world of daily life without God or Shakti.