Many New Age gurus today will have you pay an exorbitant fee for a spiritual retreat. They give some hugs and blessing, and they tell you that you will become enlightened simply by their own mystic glance.
Real spiritual knowledge is not like that. It is a practical category of knowledge like any other which requires discipline and study. Spiritual knowledge, like all knowledge, gives you an advantageous position in life when achieved. It teaches you how to play by the rules of life so that you may achieve happiness and success.
The Most Paramount Destination
The scientific spiritual path outlined in the ancient yoga texts is without a doubt in a league of its own. It is the oldest and most comprehensive explanation of the science of spirituality. These ancient texts define the purpose of spiritual knowledge, which is to discover the param-gati – the most important and paramount destination that a human being can attain in life. This is primarily done through developing a vision that can distinguish between the universal principles of life and the illusion of separateness created by mind and senses contaminated with desire, a feature of ego-centricity.
The spiritual vision that Vedic knowledge offers us is the ability to recognize essential universal needs. In addition, it teaches us how we can develop the strength to cut out the artificial needs that we impose on ourselves as well as other people, places, and things. When we are able to develop this spiritual vision, as well as the strength of detachment from inessentials, the fog of illusion clears up and we are able to steadily progress on the path to life’s ultimate goal.
The vision of accomplished yogis is that they are able to perceive absolute universal principles at work. They turn a blind eye to insignificant relative truths that lie in the wake of that greater vision. On the other hand, a spiritually blind person ignores the absolute universal principles and can see only relative truths as significant and important in relationship to their own personal sense gratification.
For example, a materialistic man sees a crowd of women and out of lust his mind is engrossed in the different bodily features that comprise each one. In that ego-centric consciousness he thinks of himself as the sole enjoyer of each potentially enjoyed or rejected woman. In this state of mind he thinks, ”This one is beautiful and this one is ugly.” In this way, he becomes involved in a perception of duality regarding the energies within this universe as separated existences with no single underlying principle. This is all due to placing himself in the center as the enjoyer of the world, which in turn blocks him from seeing the universal principle energies at work.
On the other hand, a yogi with a purified mind, looking at the same crowd of women, simply sees one single undivided universal feminine principle, though still seeing them all as separate individual entities. Thus, considering the physical differences of each as insignificant, he chooses to relate to them all as he would relate to his own mother. Knowing the origin of his own physical body, he respects them all as manifestations of undivided universal mother. He is simply witnessing the agents of a superior, creative intelligence of life within the universe. This powerful spiritual vision is due to him being able to recognize a much greater intelligent operator than he himself alone. Thus, he accepts his identity as a just another player in the grander scheme of things.
Sky Flowers – They Don’t Exist, You Create Them Within Your Mind
One year I was attending the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert. The location of the Burning Man festival is on an old dried-up lake bed, so during the day was very hot and people were very thirsty. One girl passing by the free-water booth said, “Hey, water! I like water.” It was at that very moment that I started to realize something profound in this regard. I thought, “How peculiar the human mind is! Whether we like water or not our body needs it to exist. So, why do we live and behave like we have a preference in the matter. ” This boggled my mind for some time, and then I started to understand the reason for this.
There is a Sanskrit analogy known as akasa-pushpa, or “sky flowers”. Sky flowers don’t exist. They exist in your mind only, because flowers cannot grow in the sky in real life.
Similarly, whether we like the stark reality that we can drink water and pee it out doesn’t matter at all. The laws of the universe go on, without caring for our personal likes or dislikes of their occurrence.
Our mental preferences cannot change the facts of life. So, instead of seeing the laws of nature that make up the living universe as forces binding us and forcing us to act in specific ways, we see ourselves as the enjoyers of the various energies of nature itself. This is what we call a total sky-flower scenario!
Yeah, “I like water, I like this Burning Man event, I like this boy over here, I like this beer, and I also like going to the toilet frequently”. We are all implicated in the laws of material nature, but we are acting like we have complete freedom from them at the same time. Sky-flowers!
This is a serious problem, because in this contaminated consciousness we cannot see things for what they truly are. We see them as only what we want them to be for our own false sense of personal enjoyment. This is the essence of self-delusion.
The solution to this problem is for us to find out how to properly harmonize with the energies we see around us, by not seeing ourself as the primary enjoyer of those energies, but rather by seeing them what they truly are- various aspects emanating from one divine source.
The Wheel of Time is Turning and We Are All Implicated
So just being alive, we are all forced to make very important decisions in our life, and time is fervently ticking
away. The laws of nature are not going to stop and wait for us, ask us what we like, and see if we are comfortable. Having a physical body means that you have to eat, sleep, mate, and defend, and the pressure is on. You have to make decisions regarding the fulfillment of those desires. We all want a happy, secure, and fulfilling existence. This is what everyone is searching for- even people who attempt to kill themselves are actually in some way or another attempting to improve their condition and quality of personal existence.
We have to decide our future and our decisions need to be made now. You can wander around aimlessly in this life, but if you’re intelligent you will try to formulate an expert plan, decide the best future for yourself, and take matters into your own hands. But first you have to know what is really in your ultimate best interest! You have to know what the param-gati is- the highest destination in life. For this you need to embark on a quest, and you certainly need guidance. That is what Vedic knowledge is all about. It tells you how to play by the rules of this game called life and how to be successful at it.
The Stop Light Is For Increasing Your Freedom
When we come to a stop light at an intersection, we may think “Damn stop light, it’s inhibiting my freedom right now.” But, deep down we know that the stop light is actually increasing our freedom by the practical application of something called “order”. If there were no stop light, you would drive though and die and you could say good bye to your personal freedom all together.
Similarly, a bona fide spiritual path will give you many rules and guidelines to live by, and that is the proof that it is real knowledge meant to eliminate suffering. The mother says, “Don’t stick your hand in the fire,” and she says, “Use it to heat the pot like this.” The purpose of all knowledge is to eliminate suffering. So, spiritual knowledge is simply advanced knowledge of life. It helps us eliminate suffering by practical application of how to behave and carry-out your bodily and mental activities in day-to-day life.
Distinguishing The Bona Fide Guru
So, to traverse the scientific path of Vedic knowledge is simple. When you find a genuine teacher of Vedic knowledge, not someone who simply has a long white beard and can make ash appear in his hand and throws it in your face as a blessing or some peaceful person who gives you a hug to make it all better, but a real genuine guru recognized by a true Vedic lineage, then what is going to happen?
Simple. That genuine spiritual teacher will give you rules by which to live your life, because spiritual knowledge is useful and practical.
And what will be the result?
By following those rules you will become purified and be able to see yourself as a part of the Absolute Truth. You will no longer see yourself as the central enjoyer of the energies around you, but as a servant of the Absolute Truth. And when one is finally able to arrive at life’s most paramount destination, one will not be looking down surveying the world as a prospective enjoyer, but rather with great awe and reverence for all life and all things which emanate from that Supreme Truth, in a humble mood ready to render loving service to all.