17 September 2010


Yoga and Buddhist meditation have been the foundational practices that have shaped my life. They are both explorations into the nature of our being, systematic methods of purification so we can progressively experience the deeper Truth underlying our ephemeral existence.
My journey has been a process of psychological rubbish removal, of peeling away thick, grubby layers of belief and conditioning that have accumulated over my formative and adult years.

The goal of this arduous journey, I believed was arrival at a place of essential purity where the ultimate Truth of existence and creation is revealed and experienced.
‘Believe’ is the word that I am investigating.
Believing there is an outcome or a destination gives meaning to what we do, otherwise we are wasting time on meaningless activity.

Learning about Aboriginal beliefs and how they lived for over 50,000 years has opened me up to a very alternative view of life and spiritual practices, not altogether incongruent with my mystical leanings. I’ve been challenged to step outside of my comfortable Yoga and Buddhist perspectives and from an objective viewpoint they look different – the sutras, noble truths, the asanas, the goals of awareness, enlightenment, Samadhi, the whole package is just another way of viewing life from which I’ve adopted a particular set of values and practices.

Viewed objectively, the work of ‘purifying one’s self’ can seem self indulgent, especially in comparison with Aboriginal beliefs. Western culture is obsessed with the individual and I cringe at the thought that my spiritual practice may have grown out of this culture of self obsession.

“The result of monasticism is that the human world is left to its own illusions and impurities, while the individual seeker establishes an isolated contact with the absolute. The “infolding” process of prayer and meditation is in stark contrast to Aboriginal spirituality which, through ever-deepening perception, opens outward to empathize and identify with every aspect of a living, active world.”
'Voices of the First Day' by Robert Lawlor

Is the process of inner purification a valid means of achieving the final goal of immersion/connection/communion with the spirit that flows through everything in this universe.
Big questions…

I love the analogy that likens conventional spiritual practices (yoga, meditation, contemplation, prayer etc) to vehicles that can take us from one place (ignorance) to another place (enlightenment/liberation).
Imagine them as boats: I’m paddling along in my boat, you’re paddling along in your boat, we’re all paddling away at our yoga and meditation practices, thinking our little boats are taking us closer to the final destination of liberation, that vast ocean of Truth where we can finally merge with the Source.
Sometimes we change boats if we see someone moving faster than we are…
Sometimes we dangerously straddle two boats that may diverge at some point…
According to the Sufis, all we need to do is discard those boats and jump into the water!
The ocean is all around us.
The belief systems and practices we adopt in an attempt to ‘get there’ are just another container separating us from immersion in God. They are like trainer wheels, keeping us earth-bound, preventing us from directly perceiving the multi-dimensional reality that we are immersed in.
Spiritual practice is necessary to bring us to this understanding, but then we must let go of attachment to our practices and freefall into the great unknowing.

1 comment:

sarah said...

So much of our spiritual seeking is a means to explain things about and to our self. I've been reading "The Tao of Physics" by Fritjof Capra -- and the way quantum physics sees the universe as an inseparable wholeness is much like the Tao or the mystical Eastern understandings. Nonduality -- letting go -- being able to be fully whole is not a separate, individuation... it is more like the Aboriginal belief.. more like the Hindu idea that all the gods and all their stories are all part of the same fabric -- male AND female, this AND that...

It is the getting there part that catches us. The idea that there is "somewhere to get to".. that there are explanations to "know." It is just as you say -- it is the attachment even to our practices that trap us. Accepting the world as it moves... truly embracing impermanence. Inhaling, exhaling.

I am also very slowly reading "The Love of Impermanent Things" by Mary Rose O'Reilley... totally another story. Her earlier book "The Barn at the End of the World" is a very beautiful view of her search for meaning and spirit.

Your expression about this means so much to me.