I have crossed 36 years on this planet. My birthday was just yesterday, September 26th. I have placed my step on 37th year now. When I think about the past, nothing immediately comes to the memory because I am completely unburdened by the past in psychological level. There are certain times when I behave in certain ways motivated by any emotion-provoking incident from the past, but those times are very rare.
Freedom from the past is correlated with peace, fulfilment and absence of the sense that one is seperate from the existential source. This is not the result of a scientific study, but something that I confirmed by my own experience. So, this is not a public evidence that can be objectively verified yet. But whatever I write in this blog is not new. I am just separating facts from myths and summarizing the essence of spirituality, by looking at it from all perspectives, including the modern psychological perspective. This essence of spirituality has been communicated by various people through various texts. Those texts probably number in thousands or even millions. But one doesn’t have to read all that. I have summarized everything in two different books, with two different perspectives or approaches.
There are two ways to approach the ultimate truth of existence. One way is scientific way, but it is a psychological exploration combined with mindfulness meditation. You don’t have to believe in a God or follow a religion. You just have to follow a certain set of instructions to do two types of meditations: open-monitoring meditation or Vipassana/ Mindfulness and closed-focus meditation or shamatha/dhyana. The former involves in non-judgemental moment to moment passive awareness of what goes on in your mind; you start with with body first and extend it to your thoughts, emotions, subtle mental reactions or movements etc. The latter involves focusing on one object; whenever your mind wanders from that object, you notice it, take it with acceptance and bring the attention back to the object of meditation. The former is the direct path to freedom and comes second in the two-fold spiritual path that I often mention in my posts and videos. The latter is the path to purify the mind, develop non-attachment and prepare the ground for the former direct path; it comes first in the two fold spiritual path. Explaining this and practicing this requires no beliefs! This approach is the approach of meditation.
The second approach is the approach of love. This approach usually accompanied with a belief in a personal God or personification of the absolute truth of the existence. This is a path of unconditional love, prayer, chanting hymns etc accompanied by love towards other human beings and a longing to unite with God. This approach is the path of devotion.
Two kinds of people exist in this world. Based upon one’s nature, they can choose either one of them or even combine them both but not simultaneously. One could start with devotion to God, use the devotion as a stepping stone or the purification stage (stage 1 in 2-fold path) and later progress towards the approach of meditation. But since purification stage is already complete, you can stick to the open-monitoring meditation alone. This is how I walked on the spiritual path. The first 18-19 years I walked in the path of devotion, though I tried closed-focus meditation from time to time. The next 12 years were spent usually in a lot of mindfulness meditations.
I have written two books for these two different approaches, so that I could address all kinds of people.
- People who are atheists, scientists, critical thinkers etc can read the book “The Truth About Spiritual Enlightenment: Bridging Science, Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta” :https://www.amazon.com/dp/1973364549
- People who believe in God, no matter which religion they belong to can read the book “Discovering God: Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XRJ3GWS
In the post Goddess Gomathi Amman, Adi Thabasu and Religious Tolerance, I have written about certain coincidences in life that I was amazed by. You can bookmark it and read it later because it is pretty much connected to my latest book, the second one in the above list. These days, I am observing such coincidences so closely and I am making sure that they are recorded in my blog posts. There are some new coincidences related to this book which are wonderful and creepy; I want to share them with the readers today.
Before that, let me start with the very first coincidence that started all this. My school life was mostly influenced by Tamil Poet Bharathiyar; and my life in my early twenties was mostly influenced by Osho. My son was born on December 11th, 2016. It is on that day I realized that both Bharathiyar and Osho were born on December 11th. So I get to celebrate three birthdays on my son’s birthday! Amazing right? But wait, there is more to it.
I released my book “Discovering God: Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam” on September 11th, 2019. It didn’t plan that, it just happened by chance that the day I released my book ended up being September 11. But then I realized that it is an important day in many aspects.
- Memorial day of Tamil poet Bharathiyar that I just mentioned. He was very keen in explaining people that all these three religions lead to the same truth. Once he had given a speech about Prophet Muhammad, in Pottalpudur in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, India during his lifetime. There is a famous dargah in that town and I used to pass by it everyday by bicycle to school when a studied in T.M.Puram, a village next to this town.
- On 11th September 1893 Swami Vivekananda, gave his first speech in the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. He addressed the crowd as “Sisters and brothers of America”. After saying these words, Vivekananda received 2 minute standing ovation from the crowd. Vivekananda’s guru was Ramakrishna Paramahansa, who promoted religious tolerance by practicing spiritual practices of all these three religions and confirming that they lead to the same goal. Also, Vivekananda’s speech created a big revolution and made Westerners to have interest on Eastern philosophy.
- But it also has been one of the worst days in history. The day September 11 is known for the terrorist attacks in the US in 2001. The main reason for this attack was religious intolerance. It is also true that those terrorists were getting inspiration from some verses from the Quran itself which are regarding Jihad. This and many forceful conversions in the past has earned Islam a bad name. I also dedicate this book to the people who lost their lives in those attacks. But I have also presented the nature of true Islam as taught by Muhammad and shown how the major religions Christianity, Hinduism and Islam can be bridged. I hope the overall message in the book will spread to more number of people.
Anyway, after seeing these related coincidences, I was sure that I can find interesting about Osho on the same day. So I searched for the English speech that he gave on September 11th. The first one I got surprised me. Osho kind of summarized whatever that I said about the two approaches in the beginning of this post. Let me end this post by including that exact discourse which happened on September 11, 1980 in Chuang Tzu Auditorium, Pune:
God can be attained through two ways: either prayer or meditation. They are different ways, diametrically opposite but, strangely leading to the same experience.
If you look at the ways they look antagonistic, and if one thinks logically one will think, how can these contrary thoughts lead to the same goal? But those who have attained have seen that, ultimately, both paths lead to the same goal. And those two paths are needed because there are two types of people in the world.
Humanity can be divided into two categories: the people who are more interested in love and the people who are more interested in bliss. The person who is interested in love has to follow the path of prayer. Then God is somewhere outside and you become a lover or a beloved. Both things have been done in the past.
The Indian mystics who followed the path of prayer have always thought of God as the lover and themselves as the beloved. They thought of themselves as feminine because God is the only male. That too has a beauty of its own — you are just receptive like a woman.
The Sufis have done just the opposite. It is the same path but they think of themselves as lovers and God as a beloved. God is the woman — that too has its beauty. But both are on the path of love. Prayer means the highest form of love. But you have to hypothesize God somewhere outside, then you can relate.
The people who are interested in bliss have no need to hypothesize God outside, they have to hypothesize God inside. Buddha, Mahavira — the whole tradition of Tao mystics and Zen mystics follows the path of meditation. In meditation, you don’t need any outside God — it is self-exploration.
Now, these two things look totally opposite; one is focussed on the inside God. How can they reach to the same point? — But they do.
The person who thinks of God as being on the outside dissolves himself into his God. He disappears, and the moment he disappears the ego is dropped and there is oneness. That oneness is realization.
In meditation you have to discard the ego, you have to become aware of the ego, you have to become watchful of the ego and all its tricks and strategies and cunning ways. As you watch the ego and its subtle ways it starts disappearing. It cannot exist in the light of awareness. Awareness is just like light: you bring light in and the darkness disappears. And the ego is nothing but darkness.
The person following the path of love surrenders his ego to God. “I am not, you are.” But the same phenomenon happens, the ego is surrendered. And the person on the path of meditation does it through awareness. The same phenomenon happens, the ego disappears. And the moment the ego disappears you have come to find oneness with existence. So both reach the same oneness, both paths lead to the disappearance of duality; the duality is dissolved.
My feeling is that, as man becomes more and more mature, the path of meditation has to be more and more implemented.
A child cannot understand the path of meditation; he can understand the path of love because love is natural. Every child knows what love is. Maybe later on he forgets what it is, but every child knows what love is; it is an intrinsic feel.
Meditation is for a grown-up person. And humanity has come of age, hence meditation is going to become more significant than prayer in the future. Buddha is going to become more significant than Jesus. Zen is going to become more predominant than Sufism, Hassidism. Of course a few people will go on following those paths, and nothing is wrong in following them if they appeal to you — if they fit you. But the more intelligent you are, the more contemporary you are, more is the possibility that you will be easily moved by meditation; hence my emphasis on meditation.
I help people in prayer only when I see that meditation will not be possible for a certain person. But it is becoming more secondary every day.
Dhyaneshwar means God that is attained through meditation. So remember, meditation is going to be your way.
Experience is of the mind. Mind deals only with dead things. Experience means something that has already become past. Experiencing means that which is present, which is already here and now, which is a process, not a thing. And this has to be understood about everything that is valuable. Love, bliss, awareness — these are all processes, not things. You are always moving from one perfection to another perfection but the end never comes. It is an endless pilgrimage. The pilgrimage itself is so beautiful that there is no need for any end, the pilgrimage itself is the end.
Never make any goal in life because life has no goal, hence all goals are false and those who are running after goals are bound to be disappointed. Live life as a process, not as a dead thing but as something alive, growing, like a tree which is constantly growing; new leaves are always coming, the old are disappearing, the old is constantly replaced by the new. Or like a river which constantly goes on flowing towards the ocean, it is a continuum. Life is a river, love is a river, awareness is a river.
Remember always, nouns are all false. Existence consists of verbs, not nouns. In fact if we want to make language really true — true to life, true to reality — then we have to drop all nouns, all pronouns. Language should consist only of verbs. There is no tree, there is only treeing. There is no river, there is only rivering; there is no life, there is only living; and there is no love, there is only loving.
This has to be remembered constantly because the mind tries to make everything a noun. It lives in nouns — that’s why it goes on missing life. It is very happy with dead things because dead things can be easily manipulated. Dead things become objects. You can think about them, you can go round and round them, you can dissect them, you can try to find out what their secret is. But when something is alive mind simply feels impotent.
You cannot dissect an alive child. Yes, you can do a post-mortem when somebody is dead. And mind goes on doing post-mortems. It goes on cutting up and analysing corpses. But when a child is dead it is no more the same child. The real has already left; the bird is no more in the cage, only the cage is there. And by dissecting the cage you cannot find the bird.
That’s why science goes on missing the soul. It goes on missing your centre because it depends on dissection, analysis. Science lives in nouns. A person becomes religious when he becomes aware that all nouns are false, only verbs are real.
That is the meaning of Prem Anubhuti: love is an experiencing, it is a process. Never try to make it permanent. Never try to change its natural course, its flow, because a canal is not a river. There is a tremendous difference between the two. The river has freedom, the canal is imprisoned. It only has the appearance of a river.
My sannyasins have to understand it as deeply as possible. Never destroy any process by forcing your ideas upon it. Remain spontaneous, alert, receptive, but allowing life its own course, never interfering. Then all bliss is yours and all benediction is yours. Then life is always an ongoing ecstasy, it is a dance of such tremendous beauty and grace that mind is absolutely incapable of comprehending it.