Is Spiritual Practice Essential?

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With this episode #4, we continue our journey of  ... explorations in Consciousness, ... Silence, ... Self Realization, ... Self Discovery, ... The Mystery ...

Is spiritual practice really essential for realizing one's true nature? 

The simple answer is no.

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Before moving on to the question of spiritual practice, I want to share just a little bit of my story and my perspective on some teachers. As part of my seeker journey, I naturally explored various Eastern and Western teachers to varying degrees but primarily as an intellectual study. ... In the Eastern realm, Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Papaji or Poonjaji, and Gangaji are the ones that touched me the most. ... rather their message had the most profound impact, which continues to this day.

Ramana and Nisargadatta had passed away well before the start of my journey. I became aware of Gangaji in late '98 even though I had an indirect, somewhat amusing, and ultimately humbling encounter with her in early '98 ... this encounter was not in person but in the  form of her book at a bookstore in Boulder, CO ... I'll say more on that specific story in another show. Through her I naturally discovered Papaji who was instrumental in dissolving her lifetime of seeking. Gangaji is an American born woman who is currently sharing her insights and wisdom through Satsangs.

To date, I have not met Gangaji in person ... my only exposure to her is through her videos and some of her books. ... However, I recommend her to any spiritual seeker without any reservations  ... she is one of the clearest living messengers of Truth ... of what Ramana, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and Papaji point to. Obviously, I am grateful beyond words for Gangaji's presence in this world but even more importantly for her clear and undiluted message. 

The Universe provided support for me through the wondrous gifts of these individuals. Their messages not only confirmed my own "personal experiences and insights" but also revealed and deepened the true gift of the message ... that the message has to be "directly experienced" and that one must discover the "teacher within."

Of course, I will be saying more about all of this in subsequent shows particularly the direct experiences that shape the ongoing, daily deepening of "our True Nature" for me and my dear Beloved wife. 

So let's move on to the main topic of this episode ...Is spiritual practice really essential for realizing one's true nature? 

The simple answer is no!  Now, at 1st blush this sounds absolutely ridiculous and unbelievable particularly given that large number of practices have been used in all ages and cultures. ... It could be considered "heresy" in most, but fortunately not all, spiritual circles! So let's explore this just a little bit ...

As I mentioned in show #2 ... " ... Not only is awareness permanent but it is also our true nature ... "

Any spiritual practice and I repeat, any spiritual practice, however great or useful or sublime it may be, still implies undertaking some activity to achieve or attain a result which, the practitioner believes, is not here. And therein lies the issue, i.e., how can one attain that which is already here? ... that which is permanence ... i.e., awareness. Awareness is our true nature. Awareness is closer that even our breath, we couldn't "run away" from awareness even if we tried ... we are not "separate" from awareness ever so how can we do something to attain it? Awareness is not something that can be taught or learned or acquired from someone. One requires no past commendations or special lineage or particular karma or many years of study to realize this simple yet profound Truth. A single moment of silence can reveal this seemingly incomprehensible Truth. Sounds radical but nonetheless it is the simple, profound, and undeniable Truth.

Now ... this does not mean that spiritual practice is not useful ... it certainly is. ... because spiritual practice of any kind is primarily to "still the mental, emotional chatter" i.e., to "quiet the mind" and in doing so the possibility exists to see what is already here. Also, if we are going to engage in activities, and as humans we inevitably must ... then why not something that assists in "quieting the mind" so in that sense practice is indeed useful. However, I also want to caution that spiritual practices have the potential danger of keeping one "stuck in the seeker syndrome" ... because they tend to emphasize, either directly or indirectly, that you have to do something so you can attain something ... that is "out there" ... that is not here.

My definition of spiritual practice is undertaking some regular activity such as  following some sacred ritual, or reciting mantras, or meditating, or sitting with a realized teacher or guru (satsang), etc etc.  And by meditation I mean silent recitation of some mantra, or following one's breath, or observing thoughts and emotions come, linger, and go. ... Of course, these definitions are by no means exhaustive.

Incidentally, Rumi talks about this topic in countless ways ... one of my recent RumiTime shows  titled "Why Look at all?" is a fascinating example. I daresay you'll find this short 1-minute poem quite thought provoking. Of course, Ramana, Nisargadatta, Papaji, Gangaji. and several others say the same thing in many different ways.

In closing, the crucial point here is that spiritual practice is unquestionably not necessary for realizing one's true nature but if you are predisposed to do so then certainly go ahead but recognize the obviously evident truth re practice.

As usual and typical of such topics ... this is only "... the tip of the iceberg ..." we will explore this from many angles and perspectives in future.

Given that spiritual practice is not essential then how is the seeker's dilemma resolved?

So,what are your thoughts on this question? My thoughts, and more, in the next show.

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2 Comments

Both inner & outer Gurus r important along with spiritual practice 2 advance on spiritual path initially, later you can change the track/option. Off course pit falls r there in each & every practice as pointed by u, but one has 2 b aware of them. Maharishi Ramana, Nishargji Maharaj etc.were already realized Gurus b'cos of their past karmas, sanskars etc.so they really didn't need so many practices....

Please see today's show for my remarks.

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