There is, they say, no fool like an old fool. And there is no ego like a hardened old seeker ego. Encrusted within a prickly sense of having read the words, done the practice and glimpsed ‘the peace that passeth understanding’, the old seeker has absorbed it into a new-and-improved spiritual ego. Like a virus that becomes antidote-resistant with small doses of medicine, the spiritual ego becomes more sophisticated and subtle with ‘spiritual’ insights, knowledge and experiences.
On the surface the words are right – ‘love’, ‘light’, ‘oneness’ etc – the clothes are flowing and the lifestyle says there is a sincere seeker of Truth here. But inside a subtle arrogance has quietly crept in: a shrewd way of dismissing words of a teacher.
There are two ways to do this: one way is by proving the teacher wrong or inadequate and the other is by putting him on a pedestal – in either case, by making his words not applicable to one’s real, daily life. Maybe it’s a clever ‘You don’t really understand my life…’ or ‘What you say is true but not practical’ or even a ‘Yes, I read that in a book’. Do you see how deftly the mind can sweep a real insight under the carpet so hearing the Truth doesn’t upset one’s carefully manicured spiritual life anymore?
“That is the only path the ego-mind knows,” my mentor GD said to me on this subject. “It judges and discards everybody and everything, becoming more and more depressed and isolated. The ego-mind cannot know love or oneness.”
What was shocking was that this ‘ego-mind’ which GD was kindly referring to in third person was what I lived identified with ALL THE TIME. It was, for most part, what I called ‘me’. I felt shaken by his words but also felt softer, like something hard had been broken open. Like a truer ‘me’ had emerged, blinking, into the light.
“The more you ‘know’,” GD continued, “the deader you become. The more you ‘know’ about love, the less you will be able to experience it. Once we know that this particular flower is called a ‘rose’, we no longer bother to see it. The mystery is lost. Every word, every label, deadens us to the mystery that life is.
“Knowing spiritual concepts like ‘freedom’ and ‘oneness’ often make us dead to the actuality of it. Spirituality is a pure ‘I-don’t-know’ space. It is a wide-awake-openness. And it requires no knowledge or point of view.”
Never before in history have spiritual answers been so easily available to feed the ego-mind’s quest to protect itself by accumulating information and processes. It is easy to forget that the way to Truth/Love/Bliss has always been through this ‘wide-awake-openness’ and silence. And especially for those who have read much, heard much and known much, it is critical to pause once in a while and ask whether the words are windows or just new bricks in the walls of our prison?