I have always been a deep skeptic in spiritual matters. Nevertheless, I am curious and ceaselessly search for genuine spiritual books and spiritual leaders. Approaching spiritual institutions with a barren mind can be dangerous. It can be worse than drug addiction. In the latter, a therapy may save you while in the former, a late realization of futility can snap your senses. As Schopenhauer says-If you approach any new idea or ideology with a vacuum mind, it gets sucked into you. So one needs to have certain degree of exposure to spiritual thoughts before seeking a spiritual guru.
A former colleague of mine ' a brilliant chemical engineer ' had a fabulous academic track record and was a rank holder in the state level SSLC Examination. But his exposure to philosophy, ideologies ethics, literature and spiritual matters was scanty. One day, he visited the ashram of Karunakara Guru in Kollam. The 'Fuga Vaccui' (Vacuum suction) acted and he simply sucked his ideology and became an instant innocent victim of that Institution. After his visits, he kept on lecturing about Karunakara Guru and his colleagues pitied him. Slowly his personality was annihilated as his thoughts veered into a single track, often on an irrational plane. The same story was repeated in the case of another colleague where the entire family was sold out to the institution of Mata Amritanandamayi. There are umpteen similar examples of spiritual exploitation by many institutions operated by folks like Sathya Sai Baba and Ravi Shankar, another clever profit-minded gurus of recent times.
I have thought about the psyche behind succumbing to godmen. I feel that people who have no eclectic tastes, people in difficult and sad circumstances, people who pose no criticisms to life , whose minds are incarcerated, who seldom interact with people and surroundings, who remain as frozen frogs in a well and have no exposure to the ideas and philosophies that have shaped humanity become easy targets of these godmen. They later become extremists of a sober brand or ambassadors of that cult.
I am reminded of a Zen story when it comes to spirituality. An anxious student asked the Zen master how long to spiritual enlightenment. The Zen Master answered a long time, at least 10 years. The student said, "Well I will work twice as hard." The Zen master said, "Then it will take 20 years." "No!" said the committed student, "I will work three times as hard." "Well then," said the Zen master, "it will take 30 years."
Do you need to work at being spiritual? No. You already are spiritual. Do you need to work at being human? No. That's just who you are.
The spiritual path doesn't require us to get anything. It's a process of opening to new dimensions of who we already are. It's a process of awakening to our own truth. It's a process of allowing ourselves to be authentic.
If you are receptive to diverse thoughts and possess liberal and broad minded approach to life and yet dare to doubt, it is possible that you encounter some candid spiritual texts also in your journey. I was reading a spiritual book titled , 'Essential wisdom from a Spiritual master' by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudeva. He seems to be an unorthodox Guru who is more like a friend when he answers questions than many pedagogic spiritualists who speaks with glum countenance. Moreover, Jaggi's answers are often spliced with humor and that gives his words a humanizing tone. For example, to a disciple who lamented he could become only a hen instead of an eagle, his instant poetic reply was
'The hen that you are, how will you know what deceptive ways Grace will descend
It is Grace that brought you here and it is Grace that will deliver
I prefer the hen that looks up to the sky than an eagle that flies but always looks down
How high is not the question, but how intense is longing for the sky:
May you always be in Grace'
I abhor the seriousness that many people on the spiritual path get into. But this man is earthy and invigorating.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is an eloquent and compelling speaker whose wit, wisdom, and piercing logic cuts through the complexity of today's global issues in a refreshingly frank and pragmatic way. I have no idea whether the Isha Yoga foundation set up by him works on noble motives or is yet another lucrative venture like that of Ravi Shankar. My liking towards him is entirely based on reading his book.
Here are some excerpts of thoughts from his book which is in a Q & A format. I found his thoughts on maintenance of relationship quite level-headed.
Seeker: Much of the anxiety I experience comes through my relationships. Isn't it reasonable to expect some understanding from other people?
When you live in this world, there are various types of complex interactions happening. As your field-of-play increases, the complexity of interaction also goes on increasing. If you're just sitting in a cubicle, working on your computer with only one other person, you need only a little understanding; but if you're managing a thousand people, you need a vast understanding of everybody.
Now, suppose you're managing a thousand people and you want all these people to understand you, then you're not going to manage anything. You need to understand the limitations and the capabilities of these thousand people and do what you can; only then will you have the power to move the situation the way you want it to go. If you're waiting for these thousand people to understand you and act, it is only a pipedream; it is never going to happen.
The closer the relationship, the more effort you should make to understand them. Somebody becomes closer and dearer to you only as you understand them better. If they understand you, they enjoy the closeness of the relationship. If you understand them better, then you enjoy the closeness.
Seeker: This is easier said than done. It is difficult to always be there'
See, It is not that the other person is totally bereft of understanding. With your understanding, you can create situations where the other person would be able to understand you better. If you're expecting other person to understand and comply with you all the time while you don't understand the limitations, the possibilities, the needs and capabilities of that person, then conflict is all that will happen. Unfortunately, the closest relationships in the world have more conflicts going on than between enemies.
In your relationships, you have fought many more battles than this and are still fighting; isn't it so? This is because your line of understanding and theirs is different. If you cross this LOC, this Line of Control, they will get mad. If they cross it, you will get mad. If you move your understanding beyond theirs, their understanding also becomes a part of your understanding. You will be able to embrace their limitations and capabilities. In everyone, there are some positive aspects and some negative aspects. If you embrace all this in your understanding, you can make the relationship the way you want it. If you leave it to their understanding, it will become accidental. If they are very magnanimous, things will happen well for you; if not, the relationship will break up.
All I am asking is: do you want to be the one who decides what happens to your life? Whether they are intimate relationships, professional, political, global or whatever, don't you want to be the person who decides what happens in your life? If you do, you better include everything and everybody into your understanding. You should enhance your understanding to such a point that you can look beyond people's madness also. There are very wonderful people around you, but once in a while they like to go crazy for a few minutes. If you don't understand that, you will lose them. If you don't understand their madness you will definitely lose them. If you do, then you know how to handle them. Life is not always a straight line; you have to do many things to keep it going.
If you forsake your understanding, your capability will be lost. Whether it's a question of personal relationships or professional management, in both places you need understanding; otherwise, you won't have fruitful relationships.
The way you are right now, the very quality of your life is decided by the type of relationships you hold. You better make the needed effort to understand the people around you.