To Do or Not to Do (a rant)

This is something I’ve been wanting to exclaim about for a while. I have just recently re-visited a similar topic on Little Satsang, a Facebook group a friend from work has got me on. Much of what i say here has been posted there, but you may want to look it up anyway.

A few years ago now i attended a Goddess conference in Fremantle, WA. One of the speakers was Isira. She says, without any trace of reticence or modesty, she is a great spiritual master with all sorts of training, initiations and realisations, even into ‘Tibetan yoga of consciousness’ whatever the hell that is. Really, just look at her website.

Anyway, Isira made it perfectly clear in answering some questions that someone did not have to ‘do’ anything; all we need to do is just be. No practices, no meditations, no self observation – just let yourself be, as we are already perfect. Now to me this is on par with the spiritual advice of Brad Goodman from the Simpsons:

” Goodman: We have to change from Human BE-ings, to human DO-ing’s….now, what’s next?
Bart: (as he gets up to leave) A human going!”

Now I am obviously a little more polite than Bart – and I was only a dozen feet away from this blessed Master and right at the front, so everyone would see…so I just made retching noises to a friend instead.

This whole bloody nonsense of just ‘being’ needs some serious stomping on. It does not exist anywhere in the esoteric traditions. Nowhere. Not eastern, western, oral, written…no where. It is a modern invention, something that scuttled into existence when some westerners misunderstood some Eastern masters, who really had no idea that westerners could be so bloody stupid and take them literally and not look at their lives.

All Masters still practice.

Spiritual development requires a complete rebirth of the self. We cannot simply be – as we are actually, to use unfashionable language, born into Original Sin – meaning we as individuals are not naturally united with the One. And please do not rabbit on about Children being One with God. If we are all One with God when we are born, we are obviously choosing to remove ourselves from Unity by adolescence, so for all adults the deal is the same. We are not naturally, fully within our whole being United with the One – our natural unborn, uncreated self is; but who is united with and being that that besides the Adepts and Masters?

So advising someone to simply ‘be’ is as effective as using a stale doughnut for a life preserver.

Similarly with the concept of self inquiry – something that is an essential part of all esoteric traditions but which is being divorced from tradition and ending up as nothing useful. I am taking for an example the work of John Sherman, but there are plenty of others doing the same, so I really shouldn’t pick on him.

A lot of it seems to be a rendition of the work of Gangaji (which I was exposed to in the mid 90s), which of course is not surprising as Gangaji was John’s guru. While appreciating the obvious impact this work, and style of work seems to have on many people, I still find myself somewhat at a loss. I am reminded of J Krishnamurti’s famous, ‘truth is a pathless land’. A wonderful, enigmatic saying pointing to a core eternal verity, no doubt. Unfortunately it, like what I have read about ‘self inquiry’, is also worthless in by itself.

‘Self inquiry’ is – from what I can tell – just a name for a method of realisation found, in some shape or form in EVERY authentic spiritual discipline. However, unlike most traditional disciplines and schools this approach seems to consciously reject the outer forms of religious practices that, in other traditions house and ground these methods of realisation.

The danger is that by eschewing paths, practices, esoteric symbolism, ritual, religion and processes, this approach can easily be misunderstood. Simply turning your attention to the ‘I’ and keeping it there sounds wonderfully fine – uncomplicated and direct. And so it is, expect for our extensive capacity of self-deception. Having to do ‘nothing’ but inquire (without a guided technique) can lead to the mistake that one is inquiring when really one is going round in a circle. It is for this reason these methods of introspection were never the sole paths within traditional religion. Other methods of realisation, surrender to the divine and grounding in outer communal religious practices and service helped counter the self-deception often thrown up by the inquiry method.

And of course, that single phrase – focus inward on the ‘I’ and remain focused, look at the truth of what you are – actually says all that can be said about this approach. Finito. There really is no point in saying anymore, no need for Gangaji, John Sherman, blogs, books, donations, websites, Satsangs at all.Yet the teachings and the articles proliferate, all circling around the same theme.

I am of course reminded again of J Krishnamurti who basically said there is nothing to be said in hundreds of lectures and 70 books over 60 years. It is worth noting also that Krishnamurti, despite devoting his life to sharing his understanding of a pathless land, complained towards the end of his life that not a single student seemed to ‘get’ what he was really on about (see ‘The Star in the East by Roland Vernon).

If there is no way of teaching or learning what self inquiry produces, then we really should stop talking about it at all. If there are no discreet processes, practices, techniques why are there teachers at all?

John Sherman clearly says ALL the various spiritual disciplines and processes  of the last 3000 years do not work, which is fine, as it is only his point of view. However, when we look at his description, for example of Buddhist Shamata meditation as only training the mind, we see he actually misses so much, as any authentic Buddhist teacher will be able to demonstrate. No wonder he can say that the spiritual processes don’t work; they obviously won’t with the wrong view, training or information.

The fact remains that if we want to serve and unfold in the One we need to die to who we are; something that can be done of course by self observation, but rarely by observation without training, techniques, meditation and guidance from teachers. The esoteric traditions know this and offer all these things, as they have continually done so for millenia. These newer approaches and teachers come and go; Bach, Gawain, Redfield, Chopra, Tolle…every few years a new one 🙂

8 comments

  1. Simon · February 20, 2008

    quote:
    Isira. She says, without any trace of reticence or modesty, she is a great spiritual master with all sorts of training, initiations and realisations, even into ‘Tibetan yoga of consciousness’ whatever the hell that is. Really, just look at her website.

    It sounds like a classic example of ego inflation and spiritual pride to me.

  2. Peregrin · February 20, 2008

    Hi Simon and everyone,

    thanks for the comment.

    Well, after checking her website I actually emailed her, not asking about the ‘yoga of consciousness’, but trying to get details about her ‘full ordination’ with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I am a bit confused by what this means, especially since women can’t get full ordination in HH DL Geluk School.

    Anyway, i am yet to receive. Will keep you posted 🙂

  3. Simon · February 20, 2008

    All the DL stuff is probably made up to look like she has some “Lineage” – so people take her more seriously.

    To me Isira appears to be the Benny Hinn of the Australian New Age scene. She’s peddling her New Age “guru” wares in the same way as all the other guff out there like Thought Field Therapy, “The Secret”, Conversations with God…. etc.

    She’s in love with herself. Have you noticed how many of her web pages have pictures of herself? She even sells 7×5 inch pictures of herself – 4 different ones! It may be normal to have a mug shot of your guru….

    S.

  4. Simon · February 21, 2008

    Hi Peregrin,

    I think the crux of the issue is people are afraid of the painstaking repetitive hard and consistent work required by a Spiritual Path. People also don’t want to rummage around and confront half forgotten memories and incidents. They don’t wish to start a series of actions which can be very personally confronting.

    Most people spend their entire lives sleep walking from birth to death – never actually don’t anything at all apart from surviving. So IMHO what the likes of Isira and all the other New Age gurus provide is an entertainment – a side show. It’s where I can go and for a few moments feel good about myself and the world around me. She is pedalling the consumer product of escapism. It’s the same deal as watching a good inspirational movie.

    So is it wrong what she’s doing? Nup – just providing a service as requested by her consumers.

    Simon

  5. Peregrin · February 22, 2008

    Hi Simon,

    Good points here. I came to similar conclusions a while back re most of the new age: that they were not actually practicing spirituality. This helped me not get annoyed (too much) with them.

    However, i personally, making a judgement here, do think such things are “wrong”. If people want entertainment, social interaction etc, please call it that. Otherwise people genuinely looking for the esoteric and the spiritual will likely think the crap out there is it.

    🙂 peregrin

  6. Simon · February 23, 2008

    Hi Peregrin,

    I personally believe most of these New Ages are seeking a “something” which is missing from their lives. They don’t really know what it is. I’m sure a few will break out of all the crap and move onto more genuinely spiritual.

    But there is clearly a consumer demand otherwise there would be no “New Age”. No crystals, no unicorns, no cute fairies, no fluffy bunnies, no channelling dolphins and no fixing all problems with WHITE LIGHT!!!

    🙂

    S.

  7. rachaelcleopatra · February 23, 2008

    Wait? You mean no more cute bunnies? No more cute bunnies!

    I’m just kidding.

    (PS – Sorry I cannot contribute more intellectually to this conversation but am interested so I wanted to comment.)

  8. incompleteinfinity · April 6, 2009

    It’s good that the New Agers are seeking SOMETHING ‘at least’! These are the the people who are searching for SOMETHING…. maybe those who know how to work positive magic towards their spiritual unfoldment could set them in their sights! 😉

    You know what! I’m tired! I’m so so so so tired of bitching! I go to work and and I have to put up with all the internal bitching… I turn on the idiot box… more bitching.. yes it’s lying politicians….

    Can I just ask? Is Isira, or Obama, or Krudd.. (I mean K Rudd) or anyone else worthy of our time and contemplation and prayer?… Can we systematically endeavour to help them see differently… I mean… to see OUR point of view? lol… (oh I put Krudd and Obama in coz they are actively and knowingly manipulating our world system to their own political agenda)….

    Seriously though! These people (the New Agers) BELIEVE what they are saying (well some are outright charlatans I would have to say).. But are they not all cogs in the wheels of our spiritual unfoldment? Even the charlatans serve a purpose for us to decipher via our intuition as to the valididty of their claims.

    Oh! And by the way Simon! Please pray for Benny Hinn and that he realises that his comb-over is possibly the worst and most laughable in television history! And also remember! That Benny Hinn’s ‘shows’ are much like WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING! It’s just a lot of fun!!!! AND SOME PEOPLE ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT!!!!!

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