Christopher Hareesh Wallis has been practicing in the classical yoga tradition since childhood. He is a master in his own right (IMO) AND a recognized Sanskrit scholar. His opinion therefore carries a great deal of weight.
“Accept everything” is another pop-spirituality trope. It has a grain of truth but it lacks discrimination/discernment and thus *wisdom*.
Discrimination/discernment is so important on the spiritual path that Vajrayana has a Bodhisattva/Deity who’s all about it: Manjushri. He’s the dude with the flaming sword who cuts through the crap and delusion.
Discrimination is not “judgment.” Discrimination is Absolute Knowledge of Divine Order. And if you don’t know what that is — you need a living teacher who can mentor you in refining & purifying your perception, because you just don’t have the capacity to do it on your own. If you think discrimination is judgment, you need to confront and name your shame & self-loathing first.
NOT everything that one encounters in 3-D/4-D supports human or planetary wholeness and evolution. Some things are just toxic, and there are are a LOT of distorted thoughtforms floating around the Collective and there are a lot of susceptible people on the planet to pick them up and boost their signal.
*Accept everything in your own interior process* — but use discrimination. There are things in you that properly do not belong to you and you need to identify and dump them, because they are running your life.
There ARE things in the external world that are just not acceptable, and engaging those things is where we both live our spirituality and expose the flaws in our own perception for our own further work.
It’s a rather Western notion — stemming no doubt from our socially-conditioned and totally-unexamined hyper-individuation and a certain “compensatory autonomy” — that we can guide ourselves DIY on the spiritual path.
The reality is, that without a teacher, we will always approach the spiritual path through the same ego mechanisms that already imprison us — and dig ourselves in deeper as the Teachings get recruited into our existing ego structure.
Someone who would never dream of climbing untutored into a small aircraft and expect to survive their first flight will nevertheless pick a technique from a book and practice it — and then wonder why they become ill or their life falls apart in a not-useful way.
One often hears, “Life is my teacher.” Life can be your teacher if you have an awakened human teacher to reflect life to you in an awakened way.
So we need a living guide who has been the route ahead of us to provide direction that is not just the more-of-the-same, and to mentor us in the techniques & practices which, done properly, will catalyzed the necessary openings into new inner territory.
There’s a trope current on the spiritual path: “We need our ego.”
This is a semi-factual statement… but very often it’s really a cover for the fact that someone’s practice is not actually freeing them from their movie of themselves.
You don’t actually need your ego. What you need is conscious, transparent access to The Boundless to let it act choicelessly through you. That’s what an authentic spiritual practice opens in us, it’s what the soul really longs for, and it’s the only thing that leads to a happiness that truly belongs to you.
In as many months, we have seen two popular spiritual teachers fall from their respective pedestals. The mixture of public glee and dismay is both predictable and difficult. This must-needs-be a very nuanced conversation, and it is rife with contradictions and unsatisfying ambiguities.
I have not met one of these teachers. I did meet the other, several years ago, and found him to be full of humor and authentic Presence. I know none of their students. The students are, after all’s said-and-done, the “product,” if you will, of the teacher’s “art.” If even one of them has awakened, the teacher has done their job, regardless of their personal failings. If three have awakened in the teacher’s lifetime, that teacher is a phenomenon.
AND, even if they’ve done their job, it does not excuse harm done. And whether that harm was preventable is also a difficult call, because human beings arrive on the path with all sorts of Things, and free will is one of them — including the free will of how or whether to address healing their deep wounds.
No teacher is perfect, and there are no perfect human beings (nor, by that measure “flawed” human beings), because our human incarnation is not meant to be perfect. If the teacher were perfect, s/he would not be living a human life and so could not teach.
We are living-into a new model of both spirituality and spiritual teaching, one in which the janky and even the ignoble are embraced as portals to greater wholeness and even to those precious and rare transits into the perfection of the Uncreated — instead of being judged into a compartment somewhere or left at the door with our shoes lest our humanity defile the sacred atmosphere of the temple.
This is a model in which the teachers come down off the mountain and makes no bones about their own challenges, and use the context of the study circle to expose and work on their own ego instead of living an unchallenged but necessarily-false image of being an embodiment of that perfection.
And in that model of spirituality, we tell it like it is: The spiritual path hard, it’s frustrating, it’s more-than-a-bit dangerous, and there are no guarantees. It is uncompromising; the greater one’s realization, the more uncompromising it becomes. Punctilious attention to details are necessary at every stage of the journey — and the teacher is still on the journey regardless of his/her titles and attainments. Better that the teacher stay off the pedestal than damage people in falling from it. And teachers make mistakes, even the most attained teachers.
The rarefied reaches of the Formless are our real being, and they are the most intoxicating and seductive experience in which a human being can partake; the freedom and inherent meaningfulness are unspeakably profound. The temptation to just park ourselves there can be overwhelming, because our limited human existence truly looks false and insubstantial from there. From the perspective of awakening, everyone’s ego looks like a bad comb-over… but that view is in fact just another limitation to be overcome on the path toward wholeness. On a path of embodiment, even the ego must be transformed.
There is no excuse for a teacher’s misbehavior, but we can’t let our teachers’ humanity become an excuse for our own egos’ blanket rejection of teachers. And we do need them, and in fact they need us, as mirrors for their own process. We are all the growing-edge of the Universe. When I was initiated/consecrated/ordained as a Sufi guide, my teacher said to me, “I wouldn’t be giving this if you didn’t have the necessary minimum capacity. You need certain things called-forth from you now, and this is the quickest way to do it. Nevertheless, it’s a title — only God can give you realization — and I’m giving it because you need it, not because you ‘deserve’ it; never forget that.”
I don’t know anything about these teachers personally. Perhaps they are just mediocre teachers having some magnetism and a way with words. Or maybe they truly have something and these clusterf*cks are what they need to truly get real, do their shadow work, and truly fulfill their potential. I do not know, and no one died and left me in charge. In the final analysis, our assessments and judgments may be just our egos and the book of this is not yet closed.
There are terrible things happening in the world. Don’t take them on. Observe & make choices.
Choose NOT to get egoically-engaged in these things.
That means don’t spike your anxiety or your rage if there is nothing immediate & direct that you can do about it. Doing so just engages your fight/flight “reptilian brain,” which is made for dealing with immediate, concrete threats, not things happening on TV.
When we do spike our anxiety or rage, we energize our bodies to meet the threat — but if the “threat” is on TV, there is no “resolution.” We can neither fight nor flee, so there is no nervous-system discharge and the stress on our bodymind just accumulates. AND, the media (and perhaps our social circle) keeps us activated.
When this happens, the story on TV gets enmeshed with our personal, stored “stories” and trauma and we can become increasingly entrapped in powerlessness.
The other thing is that the dross from this process goes into the “collective” mind-world and becomes a signal boost to everyone else’s distress & trauma — which then also amplifies our own, according to our susceptibility. Some of us have constellated a chunk of personal identity around “how terrible things are,” and it erodes our effectiveness as change agents and it makes us age prematurely.
Pop-spirituality “detachment” is really just numbing-out. Authentic detachment is not numbing or escaping, it’s entering a zone of clarity and inner silence — and feeling the right time and the right action, so that your action is precise and effective, and then you walk away from your action knowing that you have done what’s appropriate, needed, and your best-for-now.
The value of “detachment” is NOT so that you don’t feel. Feel it all, act decisively where possible, but don’t stew in it. The value of detachment is that you don’t add to the existing trauma/distress in yourself and the other sensitive people in your orbit — and your orbit is much larger than you may realize.
The moment you follow someone, you cease to follow Truth.
Quite right — but with reservations.
Krishnamurti’s is a (privileged) statement made by someone already free.
If you follow only yourself — who is NOT yet free — you will probably remain in bondage because — being unfree — you will take things as “freedom” which are not and fail to see the portals to real freedom when they open.
Get real: If you can’t trust your intuition to steer you away from an unsuitable teacher, you surely cannot trust your intuition to guide yourself on the spiritual path — which has many pitfalls and dead ends which will cost you valuable time and can even harm you.
“Discipleship” is almost a dirty word in our post-postmodern ethos. No doubt, there are abuses of it in both the East and the West, by teachers and students alike. But becoming an authentic student is perhaps even more important than finding an authentic teacher.
What’s missing in our time is an appreciation of the all-of-a-piece dynamic relationship of what the Sufis term “the teacher, the Teaching, and the taught,” and that the actual Teaching is a living movement of Consciousness Itself, with which the student must establish a certain relationship in order to receive what’s transmitting there.
In the West, we approach everything piecemeal, no doubt because of our own inner fragmentation and hyper-individuation, and we simply have no context for understanding how receiving a spiritual teaching is not paint-by-number.
You will find the teacher you merit, in accordance with the degree of your sincerity. “Sincerity” on the spiritual path is not the strength of your opinions, it is a condition of the heart and discrimination.
If you want a lightshow or are secretly looking for personal validation, you’ll find someone who offers those things and they will become the places where your progress stalls. The question is not whether so-and-so is a “false teacher” — are you an authentic student?? If you travel the path for the pure love of Truth, you’ll find the teacher who mirrors the nascent truth of your own being back to you in a way you can recognize and which draws you evermore-deeply into wholeness and supports you through the brutally-hard parts of the stages of purification which must come before the stages of flowering.
The authentic teacher wants nothing from you except your freedom, and by apprenticing yourself to such a teacher, his/her freedom CAN rub off on you. (See What the Teacher Does.)
The ‘path’ of freedom leads only to captivity. It is the path of discipline that leads to liberty. —Hazrat Inayat Khan
Every path and every master works backward to what seems to be the salient thing about their own Awakening, because a teacher can only teach what s/he knows. Byron Katie is about dropping the Story. Eckhart Tolle is about being Present. Gautama Buddha is about being Present and inwardly silent. The Sufis are about losing oneself in the inner Divine Beloved … and they have developed methods of inducing those experiences in others in hopes that seekers will make that leap from spiritual experience to spiritual knowledge.
All these methods and the experiences they induce are based in Truth but aren’t Truth; all work for some people and none work for everyone. Many become very adept at certain states and can be very fine teachers of attunement but don’t actually Awaken. The Masters understand a certain futility in it all, because Awakening is un-caused and only comes through Grace, but they are moved by a deep love & compassion to teach these methods anyway.
Many years ago, I had an experience of the fundamental quantum of Consciousness as the matrix and basis of everything. Boundless, formless, outside of time & space altogether, precipitating all mind and matter from itself in spirallic gradients of increasing density, mixing itself up and evolving itself in the worlds of form, AND continually, unreservedly cherishing the whole mess back into Itself….
I recognize That is both my source & goal, not just as past & future history but really at every breath, every instant as the fundamental identity behind who-I-appear-as at the surface of my experience.
From inside that perspective, there is no meaningful distinction between “spirit” and “matter” or “self” and “other.” I don’t see saints or sinners, but just the One Being in different conditions of wakefulness or sleep.
At one end of the continuum is pure Perfection, with no distinction whatever… not even a unity-of-pieces but a total unity of undifferentiated Essence. At the other end, a roiling stew of Life scorched to the bottom of itself or merging and separating in astounding magical deliciousness.
What I’ve come to over the years of repeatedly losing-and-regaining that awareness is that “the spiritual path” isn’t some “self-improvement” add-on to life but it’s as necessary as breathing. It’s food for the soul. “Spirit/Consciousness” is the living source of our very existence, and if we’re not consciously connected in felt-identity with it, we don’t *have* a real self or a real life from which to make the most of these few breaths we are granted in human embodiment.
So there’s this FB meme that purports to quote Someone Famous: “Before diagnosing yourself with depression, make sure that you’re not just surrounded by assholes.”
I’ll say it a little differently: Before diagnosing yourself with “depression,” find out what your emotional state is telling you at a deeper level.
Was placed before you to help you escape.”
Escape what? “Life?” No. From identification with limitation. In the larger context of Rumi’s teachings, he’s constantly reminding us of our fundamental Oneness and wholeness, and our purpose in human incarnation being to reach beyond limitation to claim our Divine Inheritance.
All of us have an innate longing for completion, wholeness, belonging, and purpose. It’s the fundamental driver for both the great nobility and also the great destructiveness in human nature.That’s the ladder Rumi speaks of, and in some of us — in proportion to our spiritual potential — the longing can be intense and sometimes unremitting.
One of the great difficulties of our time is that, in the face of society’s obsessive materialism — the consideration that only materiality is real and only material things are worth pursuing — is that our longing is misdiagnosed. We are judged, often most harshly by ourselves, as deficient, broken, lacking in gumption, and indulgent. And “depressed” — when what we really need is simply not to be found in what’s transitory in life.
Making matters worse is that what is often offered as “spirituality” or “spiritual study” is just s slicker form of materialism: the “Abundance” tropes, “spiritual experiences” (e.g., Ayahuasca Tourism), or certifications in “spiritual healing” given and received by those who are really just as enmeshed in illusion as the muggles lampooned in “Humans of Walmart.”
So you might actually not be “depressed” so much as just not acting effectively to support your inner being and purpose.
Inside your longing is a pure love of Truth, the truth of your deepest self, that in/of you which has never been corrupted by your life’s experiences, wounds, and defeats. It’s the voice of God/your soul and it constantly calls to you from and AS that of you which is most real and authentic.
When you “see through” the surface appearance of things and its “story” — when you truly *see yourself* from inside yourself, the story collapses and you stand at the portal of true freedom and a fulfillment that truly belongs to you, inherent in you and which nothing can take from you.
The task then, is to set the story aside, honoring the poignancy in it and that it’s brought you this far but can take you no further, and trust in the process as you put your feet on each next rung of the ladder. But you have to start, and once starting, continue.