A spiritual experience

Today, I went to a meeting in a certain company to promote a product. And I was treated to about 40 minutes of a talk on “spirituality” by the representative of the company. This person has been visiting some camp for about a month every year for the past five years. The goal of the camp (as stated by him) is to help people like him understand that they are not limited human beings but infinite unlimited manifestations of the oneness of the cosmos. The way to understand this is to listen to talks on some scriptures (the same sciptures every year) by some “masters” who already have this understanding. What is required to reach this understanding is not any active analysis or committed efforts to understand the scriptures but repeated “exposure” to the scriptures. This ultimate knowledge will “happen” automatically, just as one sees a book when one opens one eyes automatically, that is without the exercise of free will. The fact that he has not reached this ultimate knowledge yet (although his clarity on the subject has improved with time) is proof of the fact that his mind is limited. He will have to abandon his ways of thinking and all the “notions” (a very large number of them) that he has developed to free himself. He cannot but give the benefit of doubt (stated with a lot of emphasis) to someone who tells him that his true nature is infinite. What has he got to lose? If he makes a mistake, he will be reduced to the finite. If he comes to the understanding he seeks, however, he will have achieved all that he has been seeking – not security, but the knowledge that he is not insecure in the first place, that there is nothing to be insecure about. He will transcend dharma (righteousness), kama (work), artha (wealth) and reach moksha (liberation) – the understanding that liberation consists of transcending the desires for kama and artha. Moreover, he will reach this without any hard work, he just needs patient exposure to the scriptures. Isn’t this what all of us have been yearning for all our lives and perhaps for many lives? How does he know that the “masters” have this understanding? Are they different in some way? He can sense it. It is difficult to explain but their confidence and the way they carry themselves indicates it. They have compassion for everyone in the cosmos, not just humans but also animals, birds, trees etc. After all, these are all just different forms of the same oneness. Just as one sees a lot of different kinds of images when one visits a house of mirrors in some entertainment park, these are all manifestations of the single infinite. People who have not reached this understanding are like a child who has just dropped his ice-cream or burst a balloon and is wailing thinking that the world is coming to an end. But the masters are like adults who know that nothing has been lost, that one can always get other ice-creams or balloons. And their attitude towards the unenlightened is similar. They have a lot of patience. They want the unenlightened to realize that what they are suffering from is unimportant. Also the masters do not have any ill-will towards anybody. How can they? They realize the oneness of the infinite. Does one get angry with ones teeth when one accidentally bites one’s tongue? No. Similarly the masters only have compassion for everybody. Reaching this understanding is as simple and as effortless as dropping a heavy load that one has been carrying. What can be easier than that? But one should know that the load can be dropped.

That is about as much as I can remember. After 40 minutes of this, he was back to work and was discussing mundane things about business. Amazing how people can compartmentalize and lead a double existence.

I can’t say that his talk had no effect on me however. I did felt very sleepy by the end of it. And I had a good nap after I got home.

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8 Responses

  1. In good humor, to match the humor of your article . . .

    > “What is required to reach this understanding is not any active analysis or committed efforts to understand the scriptures but repeated “exposure” to the scriptures.”

    Of course, this is a classic case of intrinsicism, the notion that knowledge can be directly transferred from God or other source into our minds. Today I suppose it should be called “downloading.”

    Reason requires great effort (looking, inferring, comparing, contrasting, abstracting, etc.). Mysticism, in all its many forms (revelation, faith, intuition, “just knowing,” channeling, etc.), is an attempt to avoid all that work.

    > “And I had a good nap after I got home.”

    Perhaps the sleepiness was a transition stage and the nap was full contact with the One.

    I am glad to know such an enlightened person.

  2. Burgess,
    Ha ha!
    Mysticism, in all its many forms (revelation, faith, intuition, “just knowing,” channeling, etc.), is an attempt to avoid all that work.
    Yes, that person kept emphasizing how no effort would be required to attain his oneness.

  3. The ‘mysticism’ and spiritualism represented in this post is an easily tumbled straw man.

    The spiritual path is one of introspection, insight and seeking. Reason plays an essential role in most spiritual development. Spiritual growth comes through discipline and practice. It may be the most difficult path a human being can embark upon.

    What’s interesting is that the individual in question appears to be as lazy with his reasoning as he is with his spirituality. Shirkers will never succeed in either endeavour.

  4. janesrefuge,
    It is not a straw man at all. I have simply written down whatever I remembered of this person’s talk (I cannot call it a conversation, since I did not speak a single word). I have used the exact terms he used to describe his ideas. He was talking in English; so there is no translation either.

  5. Pardon, K.M., I should have properly cited what I was responding to:

    > Reason requires great effort (looking, inferring, comparing, contrasting, abstracting, etc.). Mysticism, in all its many forms (revelation, faith, intuition, “just knowing,” channeling, etc.), is an attempt to avoid all that work.

    The individual who lectured you for 40 minutes grasps neither spirituality nor reason and demonstrated both failings abundantly. He was, afterall, attempting to make a reasonable argument in support of his spiritual thesis. Should we also fault reason as a way of seeking understanding based on this man’s arguments?

    Many people consider themselves beings of reason while uncritically relying on one or another commonly accepted reason that has been fed to them.

    Such people are as unlikely to succeed with reason as your lecturer is unlikely to succeed spiritually. In both cases, the individual is living unconsciously.

  6. At business school in analyzing either Enron or the Mortage Crisis I came across this idea of “bounded rationality” by the Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bounded_rationality).
    It is exciting to see that millions of people perturbed by a quest to understand and give a meaning to life. It is however very disheartening to see most of them go astray to take shelter in mythical jungles created by so called leaders and liberators of the soul due to their “bounded rationality”. I have had to deal with family and friends falling into this trap and it is very very difficult to untangle their misconceptions.
    Rationalists (and there are several of them!) should however recognize this as the state of society, not spend too much effort trying to change things and focus on their lives. The show, my friend, must go on!

  7. I would prefer to call it limited knowledge, not bounded rationality. Rationality, as I understand it is binary. Either one is rational and recognizes that emotions are not tools of cognition (in Rand’s words) or one is not. It is a fact that we often take decisions based on emotional reactions or “impulse”. That is not irrationality. No one has the time or the need to do a deep analysis of whether one should wear a blue shirt or a green one.

    Perhaps, because both my parents were atheists, I was never attracted (not even remotely) to mysticism. So this sort of thinking is completely alien to me. I do not intend to debate with mystics because there is just no common ground to start a debate.

    …The show, my friend, must go on!
    I realize that you are referring to the chat we had the other day. While I have not yet reached a definite decision, I don’t like that phrase. If taken to mean, that one should keep going for its own sake even if one cannot achieve what one desires, it sounds too fatalistic. If taken literally, life should not be a “show”. I would much prefer to define an achievable target in life and go ahead and achieve it. The difficulty is in defining a non-contradictory target.

  8. if all that did was make you sleepy, then you have truly “realised the oneness of the infinite” !

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