1. A major characteristic of
the crisis facing humanity is the loss of existing values. People are loosing their
orientation, which is resulting in fear, meaninglessness and loneliness. For the moment
this gap is still filled with the superficial concerns of consumerism, information
technology, sports and holidays. These pursuits are largely dependent on economic growth,
a trend which may not be able to maintain itself indefinitely. The other side of the coin
- since the veil of conditioning is evaporating - is the receptivity for the Numinous
beyond. The Way appears to be dependent on an acccurate diagnosis of our actual situation.
The bigger our insight into the exact nature of our suffering, the more adequate our
response. The copying of traditional interpretations - inevitably products of their time -
will mostly not lead toward liberation. Redefinition is needed. In this context it is
important to realize, that "enstrangement from our True Self" proves to be too
limited. On the contrary the nature of our suffering appears to be much broader. It is not
only "vertical", but also "horizontal". It is characterized by
simultaneously being alienated from our body and nature, from (suppressed parts) of our
psyche and our fellow human beings. Transformation therefore consists of two steps:
"dying to the old" (ego) with the birth of the New Self, together with fitting
yourself in in "Heaven, earth and the (new) community" (again).
2. One of the striking examples of where
"it often goes wrong" is the idea, that the spiritual Path is exclusively about
"becoming Enlightened". Eastern teachers and/or philosophies* just transfer the
centuries old attitudes of a closed traditional society to the West, not bothering about
the fact, that these transplants may not have a chance of becoming fertile, or worse: that
these practices are doing more wrong than good. First of all, their position proves to be
far too simple. F.i. the idea "having arrived, once you are Enlightened". They
are not interested in the neurotic personality, the one who has to subsequently integrate
such a breakthrough. They neither bother about the extreme materialistic attitude of
current society is corrupting the original impulse in various ways. One is the greed for
"getting" spiritual experience, through which even attained individuals will
remain in the grip of their ego's, the latter using the former to their own benefit. It is
often ignorance of the structure of Western personality, the latter which requires a lot
more preparation, guidance and follow-up, even after Attainment, compared to his
(relatively) balanced counterpart in Asia. Unfortunately, some approaches - be it based on
ignorance, ambition, immaturity or carelessness - prove to be not always responsible. The
spiritual Path is more than just "having the student caught on".
* My criticism focuses entirely on those
eastern philosophies, which do not adapt to the Western situation, not on eastern
practices as such. On the contrary, f.i. I personally owe a lot to Zen, Bhagwan Shree
Rajneesh and Sri Ramakrishna f.i., for which I am immensely grateful.
3. The Way starts with self-investigation with
regard to one's own motivation. In fact, the spiritual Path has nothing to do with a
project aimed at a special purpose. In reality it includes life itself, only to be ended
by physical death. It starts with the pain of alienation from existence in all its
aspects, with subsequent longing for Wholeness, followed by the subsequent promise of a
New Life. Differentiation is important here. Is there an ordinary desire for
"having", or indeed a genuine longing for becoming one with one's Source? In the
first case the person is immature and needs (therapeutic) assistance; in the second case
there will be a green light for starting the journey. While the first only thinks of
his/her "attainment", the latter will be aware of the seriousness of his/her
life enterprise. He or she will intuitively feel, that Attainment of the Whole not only
will lead toward joy, bliss and ecstasy, but also toward commitment, dedication and often
sacrifice. Therefore, after the initial awakening one feels a duty to work on
"personal integration" on various levels. The opening up allows parts of the
personality that were suppressed to reach the surface, providing the chance to consciously
accept them. On the bodily plane one is urged to optimize his or her physical well-being
in every way possible.
4. The attitude toward emotion is a core
issue. A little understanding of the past can be of great help. It starts with
pre-historic times in which women were "the centre of the universe". Compared to
them the life of a man seems to have had much less value. Practices like sacrificing men
for the sake of fertility may have been widespread. Add to it the overwhelming orgiastic
potentiality of the former, and the reaction becomes understandable: men starting to find
a way out. They did it in two ways. The first was to "design" a spiritual system
in which "to escape from the cycle of birth and death" - the quest for
immortality - became the highest aim, while their inability to cope with female dominance
led to the need of "controlling female sexuality" (in the broadest sense, like
passing birthrights to the son). Emotionality was considered a means in the hands of women
to "keep men from the right track". The accusation was, that "emotion"
tied you up to the "world" e.g. the ongoing "cycle of rebirths",
something for which women were held responsible. It was put against "masculine"
rationality. It is thus important to realize, that "spirituality" as we know it,
is not gender neutral. From the very start it has been a weapon in the hands of patriarchy
to keep women and thus emotion out.
In personal development the following is
happening. As a baby and child you usually allow pleasurable experiences to come in, while
those that are too fierce (painful, frightening) are excluded. Our personality therefore
resembles a medieval city. The accepted parts within, the non-accepted parts without
("shadow") with a thick wall in between. Seen this way everybody has a split
personality. The excluded emotions do belong to the whole though. That's why they - often
at most awkward moments (fatigue, conflict, holidays) - are knocking at your door. You
have to choose now. Will you fight these "unwelcome emotions" or will you
consciously accept in order to integrate them, considering the fact, that these are parts
of your own individuality?
5. The second stage of the development
was the acknowledgement, that not emotion - desire, pain, anger, greed, fear, ambition -
as such, but the identification with it, was the core of all suffering. It has led to all
those (more advanced) practices in which one tries to disidentify oneSelf from oneself.
Thus it is not desire itself that is "bad", but the clinging to it is. It was
(is) a major shift in the liberation of the self. Emotionality is an aspect of human
existence, something that could not be denied anymore. However, one more step is needed to
fully understand the relationship of emotion (part of small self) and the (new) centre of
identity (True Self). There appears to be a unique dynamics between emotion and awareness!
"Normally" one (ego) sits on its emotions. Its function is to keep them down.
This is especially relevant with regard to those (suppressed) emotions, which may be so
strong, that they provoke fear of becoming engulfed by them. Here the ego clearly has a
function. However, by "stepping back" within (awareness), space is freed in
front. Inner distance is created between awareness and everything that pops up, hence fear
will be reduced. Thus very often, especially in the first stages of the opening-up,
(strong) emotions may come to the surface. This is the miracle: If one accepts emotion as
part of oneself, allowing the emotion to enter one's inner Space, the latter will expand.
Once part of the inner Space, the emotion looses its "sharp edges", while its
energy is becoming available to the Whole. It is like a river that flows into the ocean.
Insights about the essence of the universe, in which energy is the content of Emptiness
may be revealed to you. The consequences are far reaching. Rather than rejecting or being
neutral to emotions, one starts welcoming them. Especially so-called "negative"
emotions (your not acknowledged inner stepchildren) - once allowed to enter one's inner
Space - prove to have the greatest positive! impact on Consciousness.
The secret is this: in order to contain a hitherto suppressed
emotion, awareness has to expand! "Embracing" thus has a beneficial
impact to both directions: to the embracer and the embraced simultaneously.
If you don't love your own rejected emotions, how
can you possibly love others?
5. Once having received a (smaller or bigger)
glimpse of Unity, one not only feels the drive e.g. obligation of integrating one's self
into the New Identity, but also the other way round: to integrate one's entire New Self
into the Greater Whole. Insight into the true nature of our suffering - to be alienated
from Heaven, earth and the community - in which the West distinguishes itself from the old
teachings e.g. "classical" definitions of suffering ("to be exclusively
separated from God/our True Self only") proves to be a pre-requisite here. Aren't we
"thrown upon ourselves" after all, being cut off from Reality, not only
"vertically", but also "horizontally", to start with our own bodies?
It leads to adding new elements to our Path, that of doing regular exercises (qigong or
kashmir yoga f.i.), in which step by step harmony with "Heaven & Earth" is
achieved (restored), through which the newly acquired awareness is able to gain in
strength, transparency, stability and attuning to its direct environment. Once a platform
is established - and only then - the need for deepening the experience can be pursued. The
justification is this: Once the Light breaks through, its sustainability in the context of
both a neurotic personality plus a totally disbalanced social environment, is the decisive
factor. An estimated 90% percent of all people who have experienced a major Breakthrough
fail to stabilize it, because of the absence of a solid foundation upon which their
Realization can start blossoming. Most of them get lost in psychological and/or relational
problems, remaining unable to integrate their old self in their New Identity or/and their
New Identity in the world around them, while some become totally disoriented, stressed,
burn-out or psychotic, giving rise to new (and more intense) suffering...Others embark
prematurely on the risky road of becoming a teacher. It is partly because of poor
understanding of the requirements of the spiritual Path, that these casualties happen in
the first place. That's why it took so much time (more than 25 years...) to discover the
essential elements ourselves - having resulted in what we have called "The Integral
Way in Seven Steps" - before being able to share them with the people around us.
6. In the West limited understanding of the
true nature of the Way is usually filled in by philosophical concepts, rather than making
the Way itself e.g. the practical steps more perfect. Fuelled by ambition Realization has
therefore been idealized, rather than seen in its true light. The first mistake includes
the idea, that Enlightenment (meant is its original intensity) is permanent e.g. the
"once Enlightened forever Enlightened" concept. Few admit, that sooner or later
the actual Experience is becoming "weaker", retiring to the background, together
with the reappearance of more "normal" qualities of consciousness, including
identification with the ego. The Way proves to be a "vertical" process, in which
life is a movement between continuous dissolution into the Ultimate ("dying")
and being reborn into this world and everything in between. Therefore, especially after
Attainment (...) there is a constant danger of an ego, that subsequently tries to take
possession of "its achievements", trying to use it in favor of its own glory. It
is the ultimate challenge, hence the need for purification as an indispensable part of the
7. The second error is to assume, that
Enlightenment is the Ultimate Realization. It leads to identification, a clinging to a
state, which in its essence is bottomless though. It has lead to false claims of
authority, power and influence. Few realize or admit, that even the Ultimate is
bottomless, hence no state can have absolute claims. Ultimately, Emptiness (beyond
Emptiness) cannot be attained. You cannot realize it. The core of spirituality is
therefore surrender, dedication, reverence and worship.
8. The third and last major misinterpretation
is the idea of separation of Oneness and the world. It is derived from Realization, from
those Moments in which "the world" disappears into Nothingness. Rather than
declaring, that "the world is thus illusory", the selfsame Realization is
leading to the opposite insight, that "the world" (just like your own bodymind)
is the content of infinite Space. Everything - including your self - is part of the Space
which you Are Your Self. The first interpretation leads to indifference (often
overcompensated by a forced call for "compassion" with the world); the second
however to a spontaneous all-embracing attitude, one in which everything is equally dear
to you. Hence, my life motto: "being Nothing, you are everything". Often, the
philosophy one cherished before Attainment determines the former attitude. It is
an example of the fact, how important it is to liberate yourself from all convictions
(especially from those that are "most meaningful to you") in order to be able to
lead a open-minded, carefree life. The true non-dual state is only then achieved, when the
separation of the Absolute and the relative, of Oneness and the world are dissolved e.g.
become integrated. Only then, great compassion - the spontaneous overflowing of oneself
toward one's environment - is born.