What Is 'Spirituality'?

Spirituality is simply to know the Knower. That is the essence. All other knowledge and experience is just the juice.

Self-effulgent, beyond thought, naked, free from every veil of mind or sensation, the Knower is the Self. Shining alone, liberated from the images of the memory and the forms of the senses, the Knower is the Spirit.

Many seekers assume that "spirituality" is an experience, whether visionary, ecstatic, or celestial, whether of this world or another. But spirituality is the Experiencer, free from experience. It is awareness of awareness, without content. It is formless and void, the source from which creation springs.

The transparency of the Self is bliss. It is bliss precisely because there is neither image nor content nor boundary; hence the Self is ever-expanding, even while at rest in its own voidness, because there is nothing to contain it. Infinite repose in dynamic expansion is the paradox that defines bliss.

For the seeker, the bliss of pure awareness is abstract, while the world of the senses seems solid. But for the enlightened, bliss solidifies. Awareness is concrete, while the world appears as a mirage.

That alone can be called "real" which remains motionless and unchanging.  A world of ever-dissolving particles and fluctuating waves cannot be called "real." Even from the vantage point of physical science, we now know that matter is not "real." It is not concrete. It is evanescent energy in ceaseless flux and dissolution.

Therefor, we practice meditation to transcend the illusion of the senses and the mind, to solidify pure consciousness in deep silence. Then and only then do we have a rock to stand on in the midst of tempest and temptation.

To behold a voluptuous vision through the agency of "sacred" herbs, like ayahuaska or peyote, is not spirituality. To taste the rapture of the heavenly worlds, or the devotional beauty of Krishna's form, is not spirituality. To see the color of auras or the radiance of chakras is not spirituality. To entertain a visiting angel is not spirituality. There is nothing wrong these explorations; they are simply not to be confused with direct experience of the Self. They are just subtler realms of sensation.

For the outer physical earth is but the surface of our senses. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch have finer levels that we experience as "inward," though they are still exterior to the Self. Yes, there are higher and deeper worlds to explore, where gods and devas dwell; yet they are all in this body, all refinements of our sensory perception. And ultimately, these celestial sensations are veils that cover and hide the Self from itself.

But through the loving grace of a real Guru, one learns the art of transcending. One learns to pass beyond the senses, beyond the mind, beyond the most subtle and celestial veil of knowledge. One moves from "I know" to "I don't know," and from the finite "I" to the infinite "Am." That is why one whispers, "Jai Gur Dev."

Penetrate maya to arrive at the Knower, whose radiance is prior to light, deeper than creation, shining from the holy darkness of the un-created. Then there shall be great laughter, relief, and repose.

Return to the beginning, and realize that you never departed. Hear the golden Being, soft as a rose yet brighter than ten million suns, whispering, "Welcome home." It is the voice of your own heart.

Engraving: Gustav Doré, Danté's Paradisio

No comments: