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Sant Mat Through the Heart’s Gaze - Part Three

by Peter Holleran

   “Satguru is ever-present, never think He is far away." - Sikh hymn

   “How do you know that you have realized unless you watch your thoughts and feelings, words and actions and wonder at the changes occurring in you without your knowing why and how?” - Sri Nisargadatta

   “And easily recognizing the imperfection that presents itself, they grow conscious of the spiritual light they possess…” - St. John of the Cross

16. A Fresh Look at Self-Introspection

   This is an area that needs some wisdom. It was written based on the evolving needs and experiences of the writer, as well as concerns and questions from many others over the course of the last forty years. If one is satisfied with the way things are and find it working for him or her, well and wonderful. Otherwise, it is hoped that something of benefit to consider may be found herein. No disrespect is meant to anyone, nor is there any intent to sow seeds of confusion. The section on the keeping of a diary pertains mostly to those following the Kirpal-Darshan-Rajinder lineage, as so far as I am aware this requirement is not found on other Sant Mat lineages, such as Charan-Gurinder, or Faqir Chand. Much of the discussion, however, remains pertinent to the important topic of self-introspection.

   As in most traditional paths in their beginning stages, a basic set of rules is in place for general guidance, in the best interests of the disciple. Rules and regulations are foundational in all paths and meant to initially lead one away one's personal will and inclinations towards basic righteous living. Beginners usually want these structures, although some do not. They are not ends in themselves, but guidelines which if followed will eventually lead to an influx of grace, due to a gradual change of heart in the disciple - a metanoia - followed by the gifts of the spirit, such as forbearance, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, patience, peace, joy, and love. These follow from obedience to a will greater than oneself. Even blind obedience will eventually bring in grace that will lead one to a higher understanding. The danger of simply relying on rules and regulations forever is that one may not come to rely on himself. And the danger of not relying on rules and regulations is that one will only be relying on himself! There is a fine line between the development of intelligence and self-surrender. As the Dalai Lama once said, "first we learn the rules so we know how to break them wisely."

   Or, as Sri Nisargadatta once said about desire [which historically, on both eastern and western paths, has been something to be simply stamped out or avoided. Done to the extreme, however, or prematurely before a certain amount of life experience has been gained, this may actually damage a person’s development towards self-knowledge]:

   “Increase and widen your desires till nothing but reality can fulfill them. It is not desire that is wrong, but its narrowness and smallness. Desire is devotion. By all means be devoted to the real, the infinite, the eternal heart of being. Transform desire into love. All you want is to be happy. All your desires, whatever they are, are expressions of your longing for happiness. Basically, you wish yourself well. Desire by itself is not wrong. It is life itself, the urge to grow in knowledge and experience.”


   “Weak desires can be removed by introspection and meditation, but strong desires, deeply-rooted one’s must be fulfilled and their fruits, sweet or bitter, tasted.” (I AM THAT)

   This form of understanding underlies much of the discussion that follows: how to (1) fulfill obedience to the teacher and his wisdom-teaching, (2) lead a righteous life, (3) respect oneself, and (4) avoid a cultic response which has limited value and also turns people away from the path. As always, all opinions are those of the author. Take what is useful for you and leave the rest. It is sincerely hoped that some of this proves useful. The main purpose in this entire series is to offer perspective and save people precious time in coming to a workable understanding of the subjects discussed, instead of meandering in vague doubts and confusion over unanswered questions.

   In the path of Sant Mat, vegetarianism is advocated to reduce karmic accrual from the killing of higher forms of life. Restraint of sex impulses conserves the subtle power of ojas, as well as the spirit current and attention for higher pursuits for both male and female. In addition, a diary form was initiated by Sant Kirpal Singh - after studying the lives of over three hundred saints and great men and finding that invariably they all kept a diary or journal - with columns for daily failures in thought, word, and deed, in the categories of truthfulness, non-violence, selfless service, love for all, and chastity, as well as amount of time put in for meditation. The purpose of the diary was for self-introspection, and, without bewailing oneself as a sinner, recognizing ones faults and 'weeding them out.' Many these days will find this a double-bind to an extent, arguing that there is no 'separate self' to do anything, wherefore the diary will only reinforce that separate self. From one perspective - a relatively advanced one - this is very true, while in a more practical one, it is an invitation for a rude awakening. The problem is that someone may have had a glimpse of no separate self and then imagine he is active at that level. If one is not really there, he must respect the laws of cause and effect. This in fact is necessary for quite some time on the path. For the Tibetans, respect for the 'two laws' - absolute and relative - is essentially just about as long as there is breath.

   While at Sawan Ashram years ago, however, one advanced initiate (who acknowledged in my presence and that of others, at the Master's explicit request, to have been to Sach Khand), told me that the diary form was the first thing she tossed into the garbage can. Another initiate later told me that he was advised by Darshan Singh to forget about the diary. These instances might make one take notice. Bear in mind, that this is not general advice for anybody, just some observation. Obedience to one's Master, once one has staunch faith and trust, has long been a first rule of sadhana. Some have come to feel, however, often over many years, and this is only an opinion, that for them a different approach, perhaps a vipassana style, might be more fruitful and "conscious" than, as one western initiate put it, the "Simran / diary approach":

   "What I like and find myself interested in is the paying attention to one's own responses within to any given situation. For example if I feel myself beginning to get irritated or angry with somebody. I like the idea and hope to employ this method to learn to recognize this arising as it is arising within me. Rather than adopting the simran model of suppressing the anger, of shoving it down or afterwards marking off on a diary that I got angry today...I'd much prefer to just develop that ability to pay greater attention and then find healthier ways by which to defuse any anger...to learn from it and then let it go."

   Again, this is not an attempt to offer my experience or that of others as examples of what any particular person should do, only to point out how some have looked at the matter. My strong sense is that at some point one is supposed to move beyond the state of a beginner and to exercise his native intelligence. As in, "learn the rules so you will know how to break them," said the Dalai Lama. This is also essentially the Dzogchen understanding, which recognizes several natural levels. For instance, Namkhai Norbu writes:

   "In Dzogchen, the way of behaving is the key to the practice, not because there are fixed rules as to what one should and should not do, but because the principle is that one must learn to become responsible for oneself, working with one's own awareness. It is important, in Dzogchen, to know exactly where one is aiming to arrive, but at the same time one must not ignore one's own capacity. If one discovers that one's own capacity is not sufficient to enable one to live with awareness, then it would be better to follow some rules until one's awareness is more developed. If, for example, I like to drink but I know that alcohol is bad for me, then I can simply try to stop drinking. But if, as soon as I see a bottle of alcohol, I experienced such a strong desire to drink that I can't control myself, this means that I need to a precise rule to follow to govern that situation. To recognize this is also part of our awareness. Dzogchen is said to be a teaching for those with a higher level of capacity. This higher capacity means that one has those qualities that are necessary to enable one to understand and apply the teaching." (1)

   He is suggesting then that there are three basic levels of both 'presence' and practice. At first one may need formulaic restrictions to avoid negative karmas or create positive karmas, but the next stage is to allow the cultivation of intuitive wisdom/discrimination, and for that some freedom is required. One may make some mistakes but it is all part of finding oneself and learning how to use ones energy wisely and creatively. The third, most advanced stage is nondual awareness or rigpa, where intuitive wisdom/discrimination continues to arise but one is no longer identified with it, nor does one perceive it as arising as an expression of our need to improve, fix, or change anything. Yet it still arises. So outwardly we might continue to be perceived by others as engaging in discriminating awareness and choice, and in a certain sense this is true, but to our inner state of realization we no longer perceive it that way. Naturally, this is a very high and difficult stage to integrate.

   Just prior to this level, or while this level of non-judgemental awareness is stabilizing, one exercises what might be termed a 'sattvic' level of judging, in which notions of right and wrong are chiefly supplanted by the consideration of what serves one's practice of transcending binding dualism, i.e., samsara, and/or what serves the greater whole. This is a form of judging, but of the higher type. Most of the time, however, one practices remaining in a state of non-judgemental awareness of all that arises. And if one stops having judgements and opinions of the feelings, images, and thoughts that arise within consciousness, then how also can one keep score of his failures? One remembers Seng T'san's famous poem, "the Perfect way is clear; do not seek after truth, only cease having views." At this stage one realizes that he really is not responsible for every thought that passes through his mind, and he merely witnesses them. This can be a form of meditation (vipassanna), but we are not talking hereabout meditation, rather a disposition in everyday life.

   But there is a stage of practice where noting faults and striving to correct them has its place. In the beginning stages we need to practice becoming more aware of the thoughts and feelings that pass through our consciousness, in order to develop the presence of mind to either ignore or transform the negative, often reactive impulses coming unsought from our own subconscious, and the collective mind around us, and instead learn to emphasize the positive thoughts and feelings of the ideal we are striving for. We must take note of and responsibility for our faults, while also striving towards an ideal. In this way the very 'molecular' structure of our subtle bodies gets changed, with the denser molecules gradually getting filtered out through lack of reinforcement, and supplanted by a higher vibratory type. In this way we grow in consciousness. So self-introspection and self-awareness are very important. It is not that specific forms of practice are wrong, only that they are not supposed to last forever in their initial form, and a time will naturally come when other approaches become necessary. There is also the question of whether the specific diary form is of real use in supporting this essentially moment to moment discipline.

   One thing that is not always kept in mind when filling out this particular diary form is that it is meant to be done without feeling negative or depressed about what is revealed! To a certain degree, and at certain times, this may be nearly impossible, and 'compunction' and a feeling of abjection as it arises is surely an expected part of many spiritual paths. But the negative reactions to it are to be surrendered in the process; that is part of our devotion. Here is what deCaussade wrote about this to one of the nuns under his guidance:

   "When the reproaches of your conscience, however well merited they may be, throw you into a state of trouble and depression; when they discourage and upset you, it is certain that they come from the devil who only fishes in troubled waters, says St. Francis of Sales."

   Madame Guyon similarly wrote

   “But one thing you must be very careful about: Always guard yourself from being anxious because of your faults...Your distress really springs from a secret root of pride. What you are experiencing is, in fact, a love of your own worth. To put it in other words, you are simply hurt and upset at seeing what you really are. If the Lord should be so merciful as to give you a true spirit of His humility, you will not be surprised at your faults, your failures, or even your own basic nature. The more clearly you see your true self, the clearer you also see how miserable your self-nature really is; and the more you will abandon your whole being to God.”

   It must also be considered a really important indicator of 'progress,' in the beginning at least, when we notice our faults more and more acutely. And even greater progress when we are no longer surprised or distressed about it. Sant Kirpal often used to say how the number of faults will appear to be increasing over time; it is very important to note that this does not mean we are getting worse! On the contrary, the light of God is penetrating deeper into our subconscious. It will be uncomfortable for a while - in some cases, for a long while - but eventually it will burn brighter and brighter and more purely. Paradoxically at a later stage of the path one will pay less and less attention to ones thoughts and failings.

   "As you go into it, you will find a greater number of shortcomings, and further, the angle of vision is changed. This causes the shortcomings to become still more numerous. If they grow in number, it means you are progressing." - Kirpal Singh

   St. John of the Cross states this another way, from the point of view of the active purifying Master Power itself:

   “In this same way we have to philosophize with respect to this Divine fire of contemplative love, which, before it unites and transforms the soul in itself, first purges it of all its contrary accidents. It drives out its unsightliness, and makes it black and dark, so that it seems worse than before and more unsightly and abominable than it was wont to be. For this Divine purgation is removing all the evil and vicious humours which the soul has never perceived because they have been so deeply rooted and grounded in it; it has never realized, in fact, that it had so much evil within itself. But now that they are to be driven forth and annihilated, these humours reveal themselves, and become visible to the soul because it is so brightly illumined by this dark light of Divine contemplation (although it is no worse than before, either in itself or in relation to God). (Dark Night of the Soul, Bk II, Chapter X, 2)

   An analogy is sometimes given of the spiritual process, by Sr. John and others, being like the action of fire on a pile of wet wood. At first the fire is used in drying out the wood, which makes a dark, steamy mess, crackling and hissing, giving off smoke, then blackening it, before it penetrates deep enough to cause the wood to burn clean and pure and giving off bright light. deCaussade writes:

   "You seem to me to become ever more deeply convinced of your miseries and imperfections. Now that happens only in proportion to our nearness to God, and to the light in which we live and walk, without any consideration of our own. This divine light as it shines more brightly makes us see better and feel more keenly the abyss of misery and corruption within us, and this knowledge is one of the surest signs of progress in the ways of God and the spiritual life. You ought to think rather more of this, not to pride yourself on it, but to be grateful for it."

   And further, as the general process of self-inspection progresses, he begins to see his entire life in another light:

   “You attribute to your wickedness the recollections of the past which fill you with horror of yourself; but it is as clear as day that this is one if the most salutary impressions that grace can produce in you; there is, in fact, nothing better calculated to sanctify you than this holy hatred of yourself occasioned by these recollections, and the deep humiliation in which they keep you before God. These feelings are given you suddenly when you least expect them or are thinking of them, to make you understand that they are an effect of grace. “But why used you formerly to experience exactly contrary feelings when recalling the past?” It is because formerly you would not have been able to endure the sight of your imperfections without great despondency. It was necessary then that hope should predominate in you, but now you require a holy horror of yourself which is a true change of heart. When God gives you these feelings, receive them quietly and with gratitude and thanksgiving, and allow them to pass away when God pleases, abandoning yourself entirely to all He wishes to effect in you, and do not attach yourself to any of the interior conditions in which He places you, not regret any of which He deprived you.”

   No doubt, it is a real challenge to be able to do this without falling into a pit of despond. Nevertheless, it begins and assists a process of self-purification only the Master can complete. And where is it leading? This is one aspect of this path that, in my humble opinion, gets short shrift in the published and public teachings. Kirpal also said, "the subconscious reservoir of the mind must be entirely drained out before it can be filled with love of the Lord/Master." Do many of us have any real idea what that means and entails? We look for a painless scorching of our binding vasanas through a super-conscious dip in the pool of Manasarovar on the third inner plane, not a difficult sacred ordeal of the heart here in this world. Don't we? Whether that is possible or not, I do not know. But one more quote, from Jean-Pierre deCaussade, to put this in perspective:

   "The extent to which the soul is purified in its most secret recesses, is the measure of its union with the God of all holiness."

   Nothing more - and nothing less. "It is easy to become God, but difficult to become a man," said Kirpal Singh. For the former, "a few minutes of the Master's grace, and then?" may be all that his required; for the latter God knows what one may have to endure.

   And to me, this may be one of the reasons the Sants have generally told their disciples not to reveal their inner experiences to others. For one, they are individual to us and meaningful chiefly to us; and second, someone with a high experience may not be as far along on the path as someone with none at all! This may surprise many initiates but has been recorded many times in the annals of mystical history. Enough said.

   To modify the recommendations of a master, then, is a matter, certainly in the beginning, between the student and his master. Later, if not sooner, it could be said to become more a matter of ones own wisdom and understanding.

   There is one thing else to mention. When there is one to one contact, very often the instruction given a disciple of student will vary. Irena Tweedie writes:

   “No two Shisyas [disciples] are treated alike, human beings are unique, and the Guru, if he is a Sat Guru and knows his job, will treat them according to their possibilities, their character, and past conditioning. The teaching is given according to the time, the place, and the state of evolution of the Shisya...For the Roads to God are as many as human beings, as many as the breathes of the children of men, says a Sufi poet.” (Daugher of Fire, p. 141)

   In the beginning the instruction may be the same, but as one develops it is more and more likely for it to be modified to suit the needs of the student.

   It might also be mentioned that the use of the diary on this branch of Sant Mat is sometimes - but not always - explained today in somewhat softer and psychologically less repressive terms than in previous years, and as something the initiate is supposed to approach intelligently and not to 'beat himself up with'. However, the form is the same as it has been for forty years now, and its very nature with check marks and columns for every flaw of human character almost guarantees that this will happen. Which may still be a learning experience. But for many of us in the West, who have been beating ourselves up so much for so long, and trying so hard to be 'good enough' or 'perfect', exercising extreme willfulness to 'transcend our humanness', the relaxation of such an egoic struggle may be long overdue - and actually an option offered by the masters, if only one would believe or allow it. However, for some, depending on their place on the learning curve, a long battle with the ego may not at the outset be an entirely inappropriate expectation. Although, better than ignoring, feeling guilty over, or struggling against, any failings of character, is to be attentively aware of one's tendencies, which will give strength to act or react differently over time. As for myself, I have a naturally introspective mind, and my 'failings' and thought patterns were always on my mind, so recalling every so-called lacuna at night was more unproductive than not, but I had to learn this the hard way. Others without such introspection, it may be argued, may have to start somewhere, and such a method has some value. For certain, one must start with a commitment to spiritual values, and a rigorous self-examination. Sant Kirpal used to say, again and again, "don't spare yourself", and he is joined by many traditional teachers, including Elder Paissos from Mount Athos:

   "The leader moved in another spiritual world. He judged his own deeds differently than he judged those of others. For everyone else, he would always find extenuating circumstances, but when it came to himself he was quite strict. "It's evidence that a person's spiritual life is genuine, if he's very strict with himself and very lenient with other people...When the saints said they were sinners, they meant it. Their spiritual eyes had turned into microscopes, and they saw even their tiniest errors as great ones." (1a)

   Paul Brunton (PB) spoke more psychologically of the need to be wary of the wiles of the ego as a foundation discipline for the path:

   "He must thrust aside the unsatisfactory common habits - often unconscious but sometimes willful ones - of overlooking mistakes, exaggerating difficulties, evading problems, excusing selfishnesses, explaining away failures, rationalizing evil conduct by shifting responsibility for his own shortcomings through blaming other people." (1b)

   This means confusing Norbu's above-mentioned stage three with stage one, i.e., rationalizing a pseudo-advaita or pseudo-Dzogchen viewpoint such as "there is nothing to do and no one to do it", before such practice and direct contemplation of consciousness is really true of you.

   The reason is that chronic and long-ingrained habits of thought, feeling, and action are largely what constitutes, or are part and parcel of the very identity of, the false self or 'I'. Therefore they must really be seen and undone; simply trying to get at the root through some form of inquiry will often fail because the energy needed for inquiry will be sapped by one's faults.

   Non-reaction, non-dramatization, positive substitution, and self-introspection regarding such complexes and tendencies is generally acknowledged as a major life sadhana that compliments meditative practices. To ignore them solely in favor of meditation leaves the lower nature untransformed when one is out of meditation, not inquiring "who am I?", or whatever, and is a major impediment to real and lasting growth.

   "These thoughts [as well as feelings, actions, and reactions] have become by constant repetition, long-standing and deep-rooted. That is to say, they have become inherent tendencies and governing complexes of the man's character. He himself seldom realizes how much and how often he is at their mercy." (1c)

   So such a practice, at least in the early stages, is inevitable and usually cannot be avoided. The liability with being strict with oneself as an unbending approach, however, can be the activation of the super-ego function, or simply, reinforcement of the ego, however subtle, that can itself be soul-crushing, 'self'-reinforcing, and counter-productive at a certain stage, the timing which of course varies from individual to individual. To some extent humanity is collectively getting more aware and sophisticated psychologically and may find such a methodology problematic. Now, some will not without some justification think that to say "lighten up a bit" is dangerous advice, while others - perhaps those who have struggled with themselves for years - may naturally welcome it as a counter-balance. It does, of course, assume a basic moral sense and discrimination is in place. This cannot be over-emphasized.

   So the attitude of 'don't spare yourself', and an appreciative 'horror at one's sins', comes inevitably, perhaps, at some stage. It is not that one assumes this attitude, but rather that grace may force it upon one, sooner or later when one is able to tolerate it! Fenelon writes:

   "Your attribute to your wickedness the recollections of the past which fill you with horror of yourself, but it is as clear as day that this is one of the most salutary impressions that grace can produce in you. There is, in fact, nothing better calculated to sanctify you than this holy hatred of yourself occasioned by these recollections, and the deep humiliation in which they keep you before God. These feelings are given you suddenly when you least expect them or are thinking of them, to make you understand that they are an effect of grace. "But why used you formerly to experience exactly contrary feelings when recalling the past?" It is because formerly you would not have been able to endure the sight of your imperfections without great despondency. It was necessary then that hope should predominate in you, but now you require a holy horror of yourself which is a true change of heart when God gives you these feelings; receive them quietly and with gratitude and thanksgiving."

   Likewise Brunton writes:

   "The man who has the courage to be his own bitterest critic, who has the balance to do so without falling into paralyzing depression as a result, who uses his self-analysis so constructively that every shortcoming is the object of constant remedial attention -he is the man who is preparing a way for the advent of Grace."

   One can see there is a kind of dance here: for some characters, depending on their background, upbringing and/or adaptation, and particular stage of practise, it may be of more immediate importance to be gentle with themselves than to aggressively 'not spare themselves.' And for most of us, a mixture of the two may at times apply.

   And there is also this to consider, from deCaussade:

  : “Interior reproach about the slightest faults are an evident sign of the especial care taken by the Holy Spirit for your advancement. With certain souls He allows nothing to escape notice, and about them He has a most fastidious jealousy; and it is a sure truth that souls which are the objects of this jealousy, cannot, without infidelity, allow themselves to do what other persons can do without imperfection. The fastidiousness and jealousy of divine love are more or less great according to the degree of its predilection. Consider if you have any occasion to pity yourself about the merciful rigor it uses towards you.”

   A basic awareness of chronic thought patterns is important, but, on the other hand, we do have Sri Ramakrishna once remarking that "it has been said that in the Kali Yuga mental sin is no sin." His words at the time, it is suggested, were directed to young men full of hormones, in the attempt to ease their conscience about the automatic thoughts arising in their minds, somewhat akin to Christ's words about "having lust in one's heart the same as committing fornication itself," and that instead of guilt they should just repeat the name of the Lord and things would eventually even out. Ramana Maharshi expressed a similar attitude when he once said (to someone in particular), "it is better to do it than to always be thinking about it." However, to complete the picture it must be said that they more often expressed quite the opposite, warning about the danger of 'adding fuel to a fire'! Some these days will feel that either of these reflects an antiquated life-negative attitude; this is, of course, an arguable point.

   Kirpal had made the diary form one of negative marking of faults in thought, word, and deed. Obviously, deed is the most important of the three, and one over which we have the most control. For some, it appears, the category of thought can become an excessive worry. We often berate ourselves too much.

   But, the direct feedback mechanism of this particular form of diary and the teacher, moreover, no longer exists for new initiates. Kirpal used to read them every three months, even more frequently in the beginning of his mission, and write back personalized recommendations to each disciple:

   "You should always come to the Master for guidance. Don't look to others. People used to bring their difficulties to me. Now they ask this person and that person. The person who asks another loses and the one who comes between loses. No one should come between you and the Master...You are not saints yet. You are all sick. So you should not seek the help of the other patients. Come to me if you have any life or death problems, or any spiritual difficulty. Are you afraid to come?" (The Ocean of Divine Grace, p. 315-316)

   Due to the hundreds of thousands of initiates today, for better or for worse, this level of intimacy and feedback is no longer possible. So one is more or less forced to become intelligent. In that respect, 'bad' is not always 'bad', and 'good' is not always 'good'. Without our imperfections there would be no chance at perfection. Without darkness, would we ever know light? Ramakrishna, for instance, used to say to his close disciples that if he were to remove their lust "they would find life insipid", and likewise Paramhansa Yogananda said that one "would feel like he was losing his best friend." So real transmutation or transformation of passions is what is desired (no pun intended), and what Nature in fact is now demanding. It is all essentially a matter of growing and learning and evolution out of dualistic suffering. It is true when it has been said that a sign of a wise man is he who can learn from the mistakes of other's, but it does not always work that way. There is a limit on how smart we can become without actually getting in the fray and trying things for ourself. One way of putting this is the following: Socrates is famous for saying, "the unexamined life is not worth living." Yet it can also truly be said that "the unlived life is not worth examining." One can certainly for a time achieve a degree of sublimation through forms of spiritual practice, but that is not the same as real transformation. This doesn't mean to imply blind, or not so blind, indulgence, but rather that 'the inner must become as the outer', or else, outside of contemplation and its support, we are left with nothing but a mass of confusion and craziness. The 'old man' is still there. Put another way, there is an uninspected notion, commonly taught to beginners on this path - and not without a traditional stage-specific logic and justification - that one should and can abandon one's faults (i.e., lust, greed, anger, etc.) by, and only by virtue of, attaching to the inner bliss, a process which appears to work as long as the contact is maintained. But when it fades, which inevitably happens, the untransformed lower nature left behind in an isolated quest for purity begs for attention, often with a vengeance. And then there is a process of fire, or tapas. All may not be called to such a complete transformation in this lifetime, to be so 'doubly purified' - of both worldly and spiritual consolation - some may be content and entirely within their own inherent perfection to remain simple mystics, if that is the divine will for this life. But if one is so called by his own inner need, understand what is ocurring. Read Evelyn Underhill's classic work, Mysticism, and the extensively cross-referenced article, The Deeper Meaning of the Dark Night of the Soul on this website. These will give a broad-based traditional perspective on the oscillations of consciousness clarifying itself. As a fellow seeker once said to me regarding one's approach to discipline and practice, "some people need to get a lot better, and some need to get a lot worse." That is, in essence, some try too hard, use too much self-effort, and do not give the Lord a chance to do some of the difficult work of revealing and healing hidden wounds and deficiencies. Thoreau succinctly said that, 'it was not so much his business to seek the Spirit, but Spirit's business to seek him.' Sri Ramakrishna emphatically stated:

   "He who has faith has everything, and he who lacks faith lacks everything. It is faith in the name of the Lord that works wonders; faith is life and doubt is death...Have faith. Depend on God. Then you will not have to do anything for yourself...God Himself will think about your morrow if you completely surrender yourself to Him. You can exert force on Him." (2)

   Kirpal similarly spoke to this latter point:

   "If you wish to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, it is best to go through the water and not the dry desert sands. The dry sand is the way of the intellect, while the water is the flow of your tears. That is the best way to meet Him. Through weeping and wailing in the love of God or of your Master, you will meet Him very fast. Without weeping and wailing, no one has met God. God Almighty is controlled by the true devotee." (Sat Sandesh, July 1975, p. 27)

   St. Seraphim of Sarov is said to have sat on a rock and cried bitterly for three years over his sinful nature, imploring God for mercy. This is not just ignorant, self-pity, but true repentance of the broken heart. The Jesus Prayer or Prayer of the Heart ("Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me") has led thousands to freedom; how foolish to call it a silly 'dualistic' practice only used by those 'not intelligent enough to grasp advaita vedanta'! (not real advaita vedanta, of course, but some of its popular modern variants). Perhaps only those who talk like this are those who do not understand the nature of man and the meaning the divine mercy.

   And PB also reminds us about faith:

   "The Overself is with him here and now. It has never left him at anytime. It sits everlastingly in the heart. It is indeed his innermost being, his truest self. Were it something different and apart from him, were it a thing to be gained and added to what he already is or has, he would stand the risk of losing it again. For whatever may be added to him may also be subtracted from him. Therefore, the real task of this quest is less to seek anxiously to possess it than to become aware that it already and always possesses him." (3)

   At the appropriate point it becomes obvious that one can not rush the process towards enlightenment, or else he will prevent the learning of the most important lesson of all, that he needs to forget himself in order to free himself. So one slowly learns non-judgement. [See article "Resist ye not evil" on this website].

   On the other hand, some have the opposite problem (!), and may need self-introspection and self-effort to a higher degree than others. As Kirpal liked to say, "God helps them who help themselves, and God helps those who do not help themselves." In the final analysis, there simply can be no adequate mass instruction or strict guidelines. As PB also wrote:

   "It is the mark of a well-qualified teacher that he adapts his advice to fit each disciple individually. If everyone is recommended to practise the same method irrespective of competence, his personal history and temperament, his grade of development or capacity, his character-traits and tendencies, in a number of cases it will be largely ineffectual." (reference misplaced)

   Kirpal, my heart master, for instance, was by profession into accounting, and also had a personal preference for the Pythagorean recall method as well as the Pelman Memory system. Combining these three resulted, in his human personality, as a penchant for remembering every thought, word, and deed of the entire day, making lists of figures, as well as meeting constant deadlines, having a rigorous daily schedule, and using tremendous will power. This was his karma and destiny, with little room for the relaxed, more traditional far eastern or Taoist emphasis on simply being and letting nature balance itself. But, the fact that this was his method does not mean that it is, at this late date in particular, and in the exact way he did it, the most fruitful related practice for each one of several hundred thousand disciples of later Masters. That certainly seems unlikely if not impossible. This is not to say Kirpal was wrong in suggesting this diary form. In his own time and place the idea was appropriate, for the people he was initially dealing with, and if they understood it in the most rightful sense. Even so, he gave much personal guidance on a one-to-one basis at times - such guidance which appears no longer possible. So let us think for a moment. How many have time or the exactitude to really do this 'checking off' thoroughly and in a heart-felt way, year after year? Is it in fact supposed to be done like this 'year after year'? Who can really remember all of his thoughts of the day in any case - is it not true that one will of necessity be somewhat selective? Are all the thoughts even 'one's own'? Or do not many others come from 'outside', from the environment?

   Here we face a razor's edge in speaking of this issue. For it is a cardinal maxim of spiritual life according to Masters as well as the church Fathers that one must take full responsibiilty for oneself: his thoughts, words, and actions. Subconscious thoughts are seen as a product of one's past, and whether man is seen as 'fallen' or 'evolving', he still must assume responsibility for his situation - if only to make it better for others, who ultimately are not separate from him. This, of course, is the way of the saints. Even if one is in a situation where it appears clear that he is not at fault or responsible, the very fact that one finds himself in such a situation means he is in some way responsible. So, this may be a very useful attitude to take, and offers spiritual protection and also invokes grace. On the other hand, we are softening the usual approach here because so many people these days, especially in the West, are riddled with self-hate from abusive upbringings, and are in need a fair share of self-love. The difficult school of 'hating oneself' that traditionally is a mark of a degree of spiritual maturity may simply be too hard or one-sided for many to deal with all at once. So, while it is very true, as Paul Brunton writes:

   "The ecstasies of the beginner make him feel close to God, while the desolations of the proficient make him despise himself",

   This may yet be a realization far-off for many aspirants.

   What is suggested is, not self-indulgence, but only a modicum of 'mother force' to balance the often excessive 'father force' of spiritual practice.

   Further, what feels right for one person may feel wrong for another, in many instances. Let us then consider - keeping in mind once again that obedience to a divinely appointed and chosen guru is one of the first traditional lessens of spirituality - what are the results of mechanically or even diligently (for it is not supposed to be done mechanically) at the end of the day marking down dozens of faults in any category of the diary as given? This will most likely depend on the basic strengths and weaknesses of the disciple. For the beginner, at best it will serve as remembrance of one's Master and also give insight into character by 'objectifying' the negative side of the self - if one can successfully do it in an objective, neutrally observing and non-judgemental way - but at worst it may strengthen attention on the self in its separateness. The diary, it is suggested - and this was the view of Swami Sivananda, a great saint whom Kirpal respected highly, and who also placed a great emphasis on the keeping of a diary, which he went over over regularly - is to notice weaknesses and mistakes, yes, for which one will pray for help, but also impressions, reactions, and insights, to help one take stock of what one is learning. In other words, it is to be a tool for self-understanding. In this respect only the individual will know if is serving this purpose. We suggest perhaps the keeping of some form of contemplative journal in addition to a diary, or perhaps for a time in place of, or perhaps more efficiently expanding and adapting the concept of a diary to include this broader function, might be useful. More on journalling as an optional practice later on.

   At some point one matures and is intuitively guided. He may find it not to his liking, as the divine instigates a deep purgation of hidden tendencies in response to his devotion. St. John summarizes this point of the soul's extremity as follows:

   "For it will come to pass that God will lead the soul by a most lofty path of dark contemplation and aridity, wherein it seems to be lost, and, being thus full of darkness and trials, constraints and temptations, will meet one who will speak to it like Job's comforters, and say that it is suffering from melancholy, or low spirits, or a morbid disposition, or that it may have some hidden sin, and that it is for this reason that God has forsaken it. Such comforters are wont to declare immediately that that soul must have done very evil, since such things as these are befalling it.

   "And there will likewise be those who tell the soul to retrace its steps, since it is finding no pleasure or consolations in the things of God as it did aforetime. And in this they double the poor soul's trials, for it may well be that the greatest affliction which it is feeling is that of the knowledge of its own miseries, thinking that it sees itself, more clearly than daylight, to be full of evils and sins, for God gives it the light of knowledge in that night of contemplation, as we shall presently show. And, when the soul finds someone whose opinion agrees with its own, and who says that these things must be due to its own fault, its afflictions and trouble increase infinitely and are wont to become more grievous than death. And, not content with this, such confessors, thinking that these things proceed from sin, make these souls go over their lives and cause them to make many general confessions, and crucify them afresh; not understanding that this may quite well not be the time for any of such things, and that their penitents should be left in the state of purgation which God gives them, and to be comforted and encouraged to desire it until God is pleased to dispose otherwise; for until that time, no matter what the souls themselves may do and their confessors may say, there is no remedy for them."

   And further:

   "And thus it is that contemplation, whereby the understanding has the loftiest knowledge of God, is called mystical theology, which signifies secret wisdom of God; for it is secret even to the understanding that receives it. For that reason Saint Dionysius calls it a ray of darkness. Of this the prophet Baruch says: "There is none that knoweth its way, nor any that can think of its paths." (3b)

   It seems clear that in such a stage one must have some awareness of such a process, through clear and adequate instruction and study by himself and his teachers, in order to have faith in, cooperate with, and endure it. And that there may be new rules to be followed, and one can not go back to the old ways without denying fidelity to the one who has brought him so far already. This point may be considered a fairly advanced one for most people, but one never knows when karma and grace will intersect to re-activate a prior background, or respond to one's yearning. The point to be made here is that the path is not a nice, neat, linear process. There are many twists and turns and vissicitudes, as well as completely mysterious transformations. Too often this is not understood, and many suffer disappointment and stagnation because of it.

   Regardless, sooner or later one will likely find himself in self-introspection confronted not with discrete failures to be dispassionately weeded out, but simply with the sense of his sin 'all in one heap' as the Christian mystics often say. Indeed, not only Christian saints, but Zen masters, too, speak of this need for a deep metanoia, or turn-about of the heart. This is really a rather mature stage, however. Abbot Zenkei Shibayama of the Nanzenji Monastery in Kyoto, Japan, describes the nature of this inner work, which could just as well be speaking about any spiritual path:

   “The first step in pursuing the way to religion is to “empty oneself.” But this “emptying oneself” does not mean, as ordinarily understood, merely to be humble in one’s thinking or to clean out all from the self-deceived mind so that it can accept anything. It has a much deeper and stronger meaning. One has to face the “ugliness and helplessness” of oneself, or of human life itself, and must confront deep contradictions and sufferings, which are called the “inevitable karma.” He has to look deep into his inner self, go beyond the last extremity of himself, and despair of himself as a “self which can by no means be saved.” “Emptying oneself” comes from this bitterest experience, from the abyss of desperation and agony, of throwing oneself down, body and soul, before the Absolute."

   "It is the keenness with which one realizes one’s helplessness and despairs of oneself, in other words, how deeply one plunges into one’s inner self and throws oneself away, which is the key to religion. “To be saved,” “to be enlightened,” or “to get the mind pacified” is not of primary importance. Shinran Shonin, who is respected as one of the greatest religious geniuses in Japan, once deplored, “I am unworthy of any consideration and am surely destined for hell!”....When one goes through this experience, for the first time the words of the great religious teachers are directly accepted with one’s whole heart and soul...”

   Similarly deCaussade wrote:

   “This keen realization of your poverty and darkness gives me pleasure, because I know it is a sure sign that divine light is increasing in you without your knowledge and is forming a sure foundation of true humility. The time will come when the sight of these miseries which now cause you horror, will overwhelm you with joy, and fill you with a profound and delightful peace. It is not till we have reached the bottom of the abyss of our nothingness, and are firmly established there that we can, as Holy Scripture says, “walk before God in justice and truth.” Just as pride, which is founded on a lie, prevents God from bestowing favours on a soul that is otherwise rich in merit, so this happy condition of humiliation willingly accepted, and of annihilation truly appreciated, draws down divine graces on even the most wretched of souls.”

   Contemporary teacher Shaykh Hakim Moinuddin Chisti writes:

   "If we read the testimony of all the greatest people who lived - the prophets (a.s.) - we find that they were the most fearful of what awaited them in the grave and in the next life. These people were the most humble, most righteous and selfless people who lived; and they were all constantly aware of their shortcomings and worried about their ultimate fate before their Lord. How much more ought ordinary people to express such concerns." (4a)

   Saint Silouan of the Orthodox tradition, although considered a perfected human being,

   "would cry and wail on occasion that this was his last night and that his 'miserable soul' was going straight to Hades, away from God." (4b)

   So while one must understand and respect where one stands from a more or less modern psychological point of view, it is well to also bear in mind the confessions of great traditional teachers at a certain stage of their development, and not merely at the outset consider them 'old-fashioned'. Also, one does not need to, nor should he necessarily, 'abandon' the lower stages or practices when he has entered a higher phase; if they are useful for his development he should feel free to use them as needed. Prayer is a good example. One ought never be too proud to pray, it is the salt of life and man can't live without it. St. Silouan cried and wailed, therefore, in what are inevitable moments of forgetfulness in order to remind himself of God. Furthermore, as English mystic William Law wrote:

   "Regeneration or the renewal of our first birth and state is something entirely distinct from this sudden conversion or call to repentance...It is not a thing done in an instant, but is a certain process, a gradual release from our capacity and disorder, consisting of several stages, both of death and life, which the soul must go through before it can have thoroughly put off the old man."

   "Repentance is but a kind of table talk, till we see so much of the deformity of our inward nature as to be in some degree frightened and terrified at the sight of it. There must be some kind of an earthquake within us, something that must rend and shake us to the bottom, before we can be enough sensible either of the state of death we are in or enough desirous of that Savior, who alone can raise us from it."

   Grace steps in sometimes to force change by the path of bitter herbs, so to speak. Again we quote Brunton:

   "The ecstasies of the beginner make him feel close to God, while the desolations of the proficient make him despise himself."

   It is in times like these, one might say, that metanoia comes as a form of radical acceptance.

   This depth of epiphany is necessary and inevitable at some point, if one is indeed fortunate. But it is not to be anticipated, as it is really only one (albeit classic) possibility. Perhaps, then, it may be more useful for many of us on a day-to-day basis to try to introspect and be aware from moment to moment, and to consider that the essence of the diary exercise, and then later write about two or three major findings, without judgement, in the spirit that we are all learning, and simply ask oneself, "what did I do wrong, and how can I make it better?" This may be more meaningful and heart-felt to the individual. And in fact Kirpal suggested that this might be the case, as we shall see. Then, one might couple that with pondering one or two positive actions or traits observed in others and affirm, "I want to be like that." This is not an exercise in futility or neurosis as some neo-advaitins might say. It is real surrender and aspiration for self-knowledge. We observe our faults and also aspire to an ideal. All the saints have done so. Just asking "who am I?" is unlikely to be entirely fruitful for most people. In fact, Swami Sivananda said, "very few can do 'who am I?'" Even the modern exponent of the technique, Ramana Maharshi, said that that was a practice for ripe souls. Which means for comparatively few. The reason is because the so-called 'I'-thought" is really the root of the mind. It is the subconscious causal 'thought' of egoity, and much work is needed to isolate it so it can be slayed through enquiry. So one does the confession and repentance work, forgetting oneself in the process, patient that true awakening will arise of itself. It will be infused in due course. No need to be sold on clever intellectual reasoning that there is no doer; there is a doer, until there isn't. There is effort, until it becomes effortless. One does not usually jump from the ego to the Godhead - God is the way to the Godhead, and that great Power must be supplicated and rendered devotion. All the great ones have done it, it seems part of the plan. But this must be understood in a modern way. First one is humbled to ashes and dust, then he surrenders the 'old man', the worldly 'me', to the Self within, which then leads to the realization that God is in fact all in all and is being that Self and all selves.

   How to do that? Only by, first, and somehow, re-awakening, and accepting, the divine child within, which is none other than the soul, the 'Son', ultimately the Logos, felt first as ones most intimate stirring of life, of innocence, hopefulness, the heart of us all and which we are. Like as that of a five year old child, which, Maharshi said, without which "there is no hope for you in the realm of self-knowledge," and, as Christ advised us, "unless ye become as little children, ye will no wise see the kingdom of God." They meant this literally. This can only come through an acceptance of the deepest, gentle, tender, hopeful, heart yearning within us which we have forgotten. It is home and the way home. We will speak more of this shortly.

   Self-introspection is meant to serve two functions, truly: one, to notice one's faults of character, but also to notice and cultivate one's strengths, natural gifts, and creativity, to give more attention and energy to the development of those positive attributes, rather than merely recognizing the negatives. For if it be true that "the unexamined life is not be worth living," as said Socrates, it must also surely be true that , "the unlived life is not worth examining."

   All these are just suggestions.   Brunton wrote on what could be considered the essence of a diary form of self-confession when he said:

   "To confess sins of conduct and shortcomings of character as a part of regular devotional practices possesses a psychological value quite apart from any other that may be claimed for it. It develops humility, exposes self-deceit, and increases self-knowledge. It decreases vanity every time it forces the penitent to face his faults. It opens a pathway first for the mercy and ultimately for the Grace of the higher Self."

   "He has emotionally to crawl on hands and knees before the higher power in the deepest humility. This kills pride, that terrible obstacle between man and the Soul's presence."
(Notebooks) But while it has an important place, no need to overdo the penitence - or hold any preconceived view of how awakening is all supposed to work out. Consciousness can be awakened, or awaken to itself, at any time, so maintaining 'beginner's mind' is all important. Which means no fixed expectations. Expect the unexpected, expect the unexpectable, and the Good.

   One may find, then, as a suggestion, that he must decide for himself how useful it is to merely total up the failure in each category and mark it down. What purpose does it serve for you? “Does it serve you” is the question. There is no blanket right or wrong answer. In solely our opinion, however, one may likely find that he is either under the illusion that if he has a lot of 'failures' he is bad or not 'progressing', or if he has few, perhaps worse, that he is in fact progressing! Or even, if, as is to be expected, that if initially the failures increase, even dramatically, that he is progressing because he is in fact becoming more conscious. In all three cases attention remains self-enclosed and self-obsessed with one's purity or progress. Is this not so, and are not many, many seekers now coming to this realization? If not, and if it helps one remember the Master in a conscious way, well and good. We understand this may appear contrary to what our beloved Kirpal, or his successors, outwardly taught, but if He were teaching today I personally suspect He might have a different approach, with some people anyway. Equally unfruitful, and quite possibly leading to insanity, in our view (forgive us for saying so), are remarks we have heard to the effect that one should meditate "five, ten, fifteen hours a day if possible', and under the category of 'time for meditation' one should 'subtract the time that one is not concentrated fully at the third eye, or has any thoughts going on, from the two and a half hour total." If that were truly adhered to then most disciples would likely have to meditate twenty-four hours a day to reach even their required two and a half hours, what to speak of more! For how many are successful for more than a few minutes in actual one-pointed concentration, and how many struggle with thoughts? That is an inherent part of all forms of meditation, and is to be expected, not felt guilty for, or made to believe he or she is doing something wrong. This path is hard enough without overlaying such burdens. Further, since Kirpal was told by his Master to meditate five, six, or more hours a day, on top of his busy schedule, does that mean it is appropriate advice for all of us? In short, no it isn't. Most are simply not ready for such practice, and to try to take the gates of heaven by storm is to be spiritually greedy and shows both a lack of reliance on the divine Will and an appreciation for the stage one is in. In addition, how fruitful for a truly integrative practice is such excessive introversion-oriented meditation? Does it help one see the manifest world and the soul as one, as non-dual? Or does it in fact contribute to a dualistic split view of the world as separate from oneself and God?

   In truth, not only are most not ready, but only an accomplished saint could do this, if it were even desireable, which is questionable except for delineated periods in his life. All the rest of us, through a form of spiritual arrogance, so to speak, might very well be actually reinforcing an identity and self-image as an isolated, separate, anxious 'mountain climber', instead of affirming our True Identity as always already Self-Awareness without limits. This is not to deny the necessity of the apparent journey through relativity, as some 'absolutist' metaphysicians try to do (saying it is all an illusion, which is only half-right), but only to help seed our intuition of our real nature, from the beginning of the path, and not waiting only until the end. Meditation is a major part of the quest, but not all, and also not generally fruitful without supportive practices and attitudes. We will speak much more of this in a short while.

   In terms of self-introspection, in addition, the suggestion that if one dots all of his I's and crosses all of his T's he will enjoy 'steady progress within from day to day' is ludicrous if not harmful. He may in fact be progressing, but not necessarily be enjoying or even noticing it. The path is not so linear; it is full of karmic surprises, challenges, ups and downs, pains and contradictions - all of which is how we are instructed by the universe.

   The same might be said for the category of 'experiences in meditation.' It has been written that "one should not care what one sees, it does not matter if it is the golden light, the moon, Sun, or the vision of this or that Master, just sit and gaze, have no clutching or expectation." But then one is told to write down what one sees on the back of the diary form! What purpose is served by that? Doesn’t the initiate know what he has seen? Does one really need the Master to write back once a year, "yes, the Sun is higher than the stars, you are progressing," or, "your results show a lack of progress" ? Doesn't one know already? One can read all about such basic inner phenomena in the books and not need to take a Master's precious time telling you the same, certainly not in the beginning stages. And how does that show you aren't progressing, anyway? You either had a 'good' meditation' or you didn't. And even that is only apparent. Even one repetition of japa or simran is beneficial and has its cumulative if hidden effects. In addition, master Kirpal clearly wrote:

   "It is not the inner experience that determines the spiritual progress, but the basic personal attitude of serene living of the child disciple, which proves his or her worth." (6)

   This point is so central it cannot be over-emphasized. Steadiness, endurance, equanimity, charity, and patience are of much more importance than inner mystic experiences. It is not that having a vision is of no worth, but that they occur on the way to the goal, and are not the goal itself. Even Ramana, who may seem the last person to have anything positive to say about the subject, said, "having visions is better than no visions, because it is a sign of increased concentration and means one is closer to absorption into the Self." (7)

   However, he also has said that visions, per se, were no signs of progress!

   But the essential 'experience', if it be called so, is much subtler, and easily missed:

   "The most important kind of spiritual development is usually undramatic and unexciting. It is found and felt in deep peace...Learn to be satisfied with this gift, this grace of the Stillness. Do not ask for more or for something more striking and dramatic. This is a common error, and an ungrateful one." (Paul Brunton, Notebooks)

   St. Bernard confessed that in his entire life "he had never had any visions at all, but that many times he could feel God enter his soul." St. John of the Cross wrote, "many souls to whom visions have never come are incomparably more advanced on the way of perfection than others to whom many have been given." The point is that these things, if necessary, come in their own time, and are not the truest gauge of spiritual progress. If one day you have a great meditation, and the next day, week, month, or even year(s) do not, it is a mistake to assume there has been no progress. In truth, most of us really have no way of knowing the stage of our progress, other than how we react amidst circumstances in our daily life, or the unexpected spontaneous peace or joy that arises in the heart when we have contacted the true Self that is our real nature. This can happen as well in the body as without. It is usually missed when our hope is fixed is on spectacular things. But it is the one thing that can never be taken away. We will speak more on this later. Suffice to say for now that much lies hidden behind the scenes, due to our development in past incarnations, that relates to breakthroughs in consciousness. The Masters always say that one of their primary jobs, with our cooperation, is to wrap up the karmic accounts. And of course, this is just one way of looking at things; karma per se is not only something to pay off, which is kind of a negative way of looking at it, but as part of human experience is inseparable from the very process of our liberation. And this in fact, however, may involve our not having much in the way of 'experiences' until we are ready to have them without becoming imbalanced. And this may be hard to take given the carrot of expectation built up in the traditional teachings on this path. But it is simply the case. Sant Darshan Singh gives a glimpse of this:

   "One may seem to suffer, to be in agony on account of separation, but remembrance itself is a form of union, and one would not exchange it for anything else. This remembrance is like the termite which hollows out from within us, all the love and ephemeral attachments of this world. Those who have it are progressively purified of their spiritual weaknesses. Even when we seem to make no progress, continued remembrance is itself a form of progress, for slowly, steadily, and inexorably it is preparing the way for everlasting union. As a great Urdu poet, Asadullah Khan Ghalib, has said, "When pain grows beyond endurance, it becomes its own cure."

   "Once we have glimpsed the ineffable divine beloved, nothing on this earth can satisfy us. Having enticed us and enraptured us, the beloved then disappears. We pine and yearn for him, but he is nowhere to be found. Anyone who reads the writings of the mystics will notice how much they touch upon the torments which the seeker undergoes in his quest for the divine Spouse...[But] even if the Lord seems to withdraw himself from us, we cannot give Him up; we have no choice. We are afflicted with a disease and we can not rest until we are reunited with Him...But even after He has reached out to us, we are still not entirely free from our worldly attachments and desires. It is by withdrawing Himself from us, by moving away, that He compels us to follow Him. As we recognise that nothing compares with the joy of his presence, we disengage from our worldly attachments one by one. The suffering and anguish of separation are processes by which we are purified of all worldly desires. Love burns up everything except the Beloved. And as we restlessly wait for the faintest sound of His incoming footsteps, we are being cleansed and recreated from within."

   Anandamayi Ma spoke to one disciple:

   "It is not right to compare and reason saying, 'such and such a person has done sadhana for so many years and yet has not got anywhere.' How can you judge what is happening to anyone inwardly? Sometimes it seems that a person who does sadhana seems to have changed for the worse. But how do you know that this tendency has not always been in him and has now come out so that it may be dealt with and purified as a result of his own endeavor? To say: 'I have done so much sadhana but have not become transformed,' is also the wrong attitude. Yours is only to seek God and call out to him unceasingly and not look to the result of what you are doing." (7b)

   In this aspect of relationship with a Guru, Sri Ramakrishna spoke of the process as "lancing the boil."

   It is a plain fact that the revelation of egoism will go on for years. It is to be expected and not taken as a sign that something is wrong with the process itself or with ones conscious efforts and intentions. In his own way even Kirpal paradoxically said that when marking the diary one will find that the number of 'failures' will actually increase as one goes on with the practice (even as one 'weeds out' failures). That, in fact, is part of the 'science' of the spiritual process! It is supposed to happen. One actually 'improves' while seeing how one is a failure.

   From another tradition, the Athonite father Maximos tells us this about the process of prayer itself. One can perhaps only understand this from the perspective of actual experience. If one has been on the path for a long time he will no doubt recognize the signs:

   "Another [illness] is what the elders call hardness or toughness of the heart. A person may fervently desire to listen to the word of God, to desire union with God, to come in contact with wisdom that comes from God, but the heart is impenetrable. The Grace of God cannot enter the essence of that person. The heart does not allow the seed of God's grace to take root. Based on the experience of the saints, this is a given for all of us. If we consider ourselves as a parcel of land that we begin to dig and cultivate with the Prayer [in this tradition, the practice of repetition of the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me"] we'll noticed that at first the ground may be soft and relatively easy to plow. But as we continue digging we reach a level full of pebbles. Further down we reach solid rock. It is like sowing on granite. Nothing can penetrate it." Father Maximos looked thoughtful and serious, as if speaking from direct experience.

   "So what happens after that?"

   "The hardness becomes even more impenetrable," he said with a somber tone and remained pensive for a few more seconds.
(Kyriakos Markides, The Mountain of Silence, p. 58-59)

   The essence of this experience is that it takes committed practice over time to come anywhere near the revelation that one has a heart of stone, which then makes one available to grace. The Sants talk about this but usually in veiled terms for the beginning student, who has yet to be made strong in his devotion to the path. But having read this far you are not likely a raw beginner, and thus ready to be weaned from mother's milk?..........

   One might, furthermore, consider for himself whether or not one of the most reliable signs of progress is, in a way, to not be concerned with progress. The saints often have said, 'what is the value of 'pulling up the plant and checking its growth each and every day?' Is one so sure he is or is not progressing? It is but natural to be concerned, or to wonder, but it may be useful to know that here is another perspective. Lin Yutang writes, in the perennial book, The Importance of Living, "From the Taoist point of view, an educated man is one who believes he has not succeeded when he has, but is not sure he has failed when he fails."

   If we are so fortunate, we reach a point of letting go of control over the entire process. It is initially scary to hand it over, and may not be done prematurely, but is an option nevertheless given by the Satguru. Kirpal wrote:

   "When a disciple entrusts his all to the Master, he becomes carefree and the Master has of necessity to take over the entire responsibility; just as a mother does for her child who does not know what is good for him. Self-surrender is not an easy task. It comes only when a disciple has complete faith and confidence in the competency of the Master. In it one has to recede back to the position of an innocent child...On the other hand, the path of spiritual discipline...self effort, everyone can try for himself or herself."

   "It is, no doubt, a long and tortuous path, as compared to the former, but one can with confidence in the Master tread it firmly step by step. If, however, a person may be fortunate enough to take to self-surrender, he can have all the Blessings of the Master quickly, for then he goes directly into his lap and has nothing to do by himself for himself...But very rarely even a really blessed soul may be able to acquire this attitude."

   Usually, we must become saturated with experience to reach this stage, where we finally rest in the knowing that it is God that is being the awareness that we are, that it is God who is the ever-faithful one, not us, faithfully in charge of all creation and our very Being. Thus one comes to the confession, "He is me - I am not He," which is a great grace to be so blessed to make. This is a hidden Secret of the path, a divine Mystery, beyond all states. All responsibility rests with God, as one leaves "all his cares among the lilies," divinely Overself-conscious of that which is the support of his own life.

   Yet, despite what the many non-dualists teach, one must live the life, yes acting as if no-separation is true, but not just in belief but through efforts of true and right action, until such time as this is one's spontaneous nature and realization. One may of course have glimpses, often prolonged ones, of truth. But this 'view' will certainly be tested by both the world and God, until one becomes the Reality he knows himself to be in moments of clear seeing. Real-ization. There is really no way around this part of the equation. It need not be prolonged or made difficult any more than is necessary, but we must paradoxically 'try the impossible', at times, in order to see that our trying is useless or insufficient to achieve what we hope for, in order to "surrender in the arms of love." We come to the point where letting go of control is our last option - the only thing left to do. Hubert Benoit writes of this difficulty:

   "Man believes in the utility of his agitation because he does not think that he is anything but that personal 'me' which he perceives in the dualistic manner. He does not know that there is in him something quite different from this visible personal 'me', something invisible which works in his favor in the dark. Identifying himself with his perceptible phenomena, in particular with his imaginative mind, he does not think that he is anything more. Everything happens as though he said to himself: 'Who would work for me except myself?' And not seeing in himself any other self than his imaginative mind, he turns to his mind to rid himself of distress. When one only sees a single means of salvation, one believes in it because necessarily one wishes to believe in it...I do not know that my essential wish - to escape from the dualistic illusion, a generator of anguish - is in process of being realized in me by something other than my personal 'me'; I do not believe that I can count on anyone but myself; I believe myself therefore obliged to do something. I take fright in believing myself alone, abandoned by all; necessarily then I am uneasy and my agitation neutralizes by degrees the beneficial work of my deeper self. Zen expresses that in saying: 'Not knowing how near the Truth is, people look for it far away...what a pity!" (9)

   In short, we do our small part with humility, then, and leave the rest up to Him - God, the Universal Power, Providence, Grace, Truth. Or, as PB expressed it:

   "Such is the strange paradox of the quest that on the one hand he must foster determined self-reliance but on the other yield to a feeling of utter dependence on the higher power." (9a)

   More thoughts on progress

   "When you go beyond progress, you will know what progress is." - Nisargadatta Maharaja.

   "Don't be discouraged by obstacles or the feeling that you are not making any progress. The mind is so enmeshed in illusion it is not capable of determining whether or not it is making any progress along the spiritual path. Just carry on with your meditation. Don't expect immediate results and don't be worried by the lack of them." - Annamalai Swami

   The notion of spiritual 'progress' is an interesting one. Of course we want it, but often we are confused by fixed, preconceived ideas of what that really is. We are reminded, for instance, of the section on Baba Faqir Chand, in Sant Mat: Part One, where he stated that it may not be necessary for one to experience all of the planes in order to know Truth. The final or as far as we know ultimate state, i.e. sahaj samadhi, is said to be not based on seeing anything in the ordinary dualistic sense, but on being the Truth that we are. Then why be 'concerned' with writing down visionary experiences in the diary? That is not the only form of progress to notice. The lessening of egoism is more important. Again, it is supposedly for a beginner to assure him that he is progressing in concentration - certainly nothing wrong with that - but when one comes to the realization (or the so-called 'throwing in of the towel') wherein he realizes that progress lies more in the 'disappearance' or humbling of the one who thinks he is progressing, than something he has achieved, and that no experience per se is unvarnished Truth, then such concern begins to be seen for what it is.

   PB cautions:

   "It is an error, although a reasonable one, to believe that attainment comes only when the whole distance of this path has been travelled. This is to make it depend on measurement, calculation - that is, on the ego's own effort, management, and control. On the contrary, attainment depends on relinquishment of the ego, and hence the idea of progress which accompanies it...As he advances in the idea of being detached from results and possessions, he will inevitably have to advance in the idea of being detached from concern about his own spiritual development. If he is to relinquish the ego, he will also have to relinquish his attempts to improve it. This applies just as much to its character as to its ideas...The usual ways seek personal attainment, achievement, salvation. The aspirant thinks or speaks of "my progress"; hence such ways are self-involved, egoistic. The Short Path [~direct path, or the path of surrender] turns realization over to the Overself so that it is not your concern any longer. That does not mean that you do not care whether you find truth or not, but that whereas ordinary care for it arises out of desire of the ego or anxiety of the ego or egoistic need of comfort, escape or relief, the Short Path care arises out of the stillness of mind, serenity of faith, and the acceptance of the universe...Why create needless frustrations by an overeager attitude, by overdoing spiritual activity? You are in the Overself's hands even now and if the fundamental aspiration is present, your development will go on without your having to be anxious about it. Let the burden go. Do not become victim of creating too much suggestion got from reading too much spiritual literature creating an artificial conception of enlightenment." (Vol. 15)


   "Their greatest advance will be made when they cease holding the wish to make any advance at all, cease their continual looking at themselves, and instead come to a quiet rest in the simple fact that God is, until they live in this fact alone. That will transfer their attention from self to Overself and keep them seeing its presence in everyone's life and its action in every event. The more they succeed in holding to this insight, the less will they even be troubled or afraid or perplexed again; the more they recognize and rest in the divine character, the less will they be feverishly concerned about their own spiritual future."

   True, this may not be the insight of the beginner, but it needs be pointed out. At some point it becomes valuable. Until then we continue to make efforts. Eventually we may be graced to understand words such as the following from a sage like Sri Nisargadatta:

   "Unless you make tremendous efforts, you will not be convinced that effort will take you nowhere. The self is so self-confident, that unless it is totally discouraged, it will not give up."

   Then we find out what effortless effort, or no-effort, is like. That is to say, having become our last resort, we can resort to it. Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon states:

   "In each school one can progress up to the point when all desire for progress must be abandoned to make further progress possible. Then all schools are given up, all effort ceases, in solitude and darkness the last step is made which ends ignorance and fear forever."

   PB further writes:

   "His spiritual progress will be measured not so much by his meditational progress as by his moral awakening...It must [also] be remembered always that mere intellectual study is not so essential as the building of worthwhile character, which is far more important in preparing for the great battle with the ego." (Ibid)

   Sant Kirpal Singh said much the same thing above:

   "It is not the inner experience which determines the spiritual progress, but the basic personal attitude of serene living of the child disciple, which proves his or her worth."

   St. John states:

   “Charity is more precious in God’s sight than all the visions and communications possible - since these imply neither merit or demerit, and...many individuals who have never received these experiences are incomparably more advanced than others who have received many.” (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, 22:19)

   Ramesh Balsekar expresses this point in his iconoclastic advaitic way:

   "...bear in mind that whatever happens is part of the impersonal functioning of Totality. The seeker is merely a body-mind organism in that functioning. "He" does not make any progress because "he" doesn't exist as a doer. The Source starts the seeking and the Source maintains the process of destruction of the ego, the seeker. Only the Source can destroy the ego...There is a penultimate stage prior to enlightenment itself. If you ask me what is indicative of the threshold to the imminent occurrence of enlightenment, I answer that it is the attitude: "Enlightenment? Who cares!" From this stage, enlightenment can occur at any moment...You will know you are making progress if, in daily life, you find yourself more tolerant towards other people's actions. After all, if no action is "your" action, then how can you blame others for theirs? And life becomes simpler - no pride, no guilt, no hate, no envy. With this understanding, you know that the teaching is going deeper." (quoted in The Odyssey of Enlightenment, p. 163-164)

   [Keep in mind that he speaks of a penultimate stage; it is generally inappropriate to entertain an attitude of 'not caring' prematurely].

   Fenelon gives us some more to think about regarding ideas about progress:

   "...The increase of inward light will show our imperfections to be far greater and more deadly at their roots than we had thought them....Nothing so decidedly marks the solid progress of a soul as being able to view its own depravity without being disturbed or discouraged...Let us remember that becoming aware of our disease is the first step in its cure."

   deCaussade in beautiful prose says:

    "My dear Sister, when one loves God, one does not wish to make greater progress than God wills, and one abandons one's spiritual progress to divine Providence, just as wealthy people in the world abandon to Him all the success of their temporal affairs."

   "One does not ever advance in spiritual as one does in visible works. The business of our sanctification and perfection ought to be the work of our whole life-time. I notice your natural vivacity and eagerness intrude into everything, and from this proceed anxieties, discouragement, and troubles which lead you astray in causing you distress. Here is the remedy! As long as you feel a sincere good-will to belong to God, a practical appreciation for everything that leads you to God, and a certain amount of courage to rise after your little falls, you are doing well in the sight of God.
[Sawan Singh used to say, "when you fall, fall forward."] Have patience with yourself then; learn to bear with your weaknesses and miseries gently, as you have to put up with those of your neighbor. Be satisfied to humble yourself quietly before God, and do not expect to make any progress except through Him. This hope will not be disappointed, but God will realize probably by a hidden operation which will take place in the centre of your soul, and this will cause you to make considerable progress without your knowledge."

   St. Teresa’s prayer:

   “What my weakness finds impossible, will become easy with the help of the grace of God, and this He will give me in His own good time. For the rest, I desire neither perfection, nor to lead a spiritual life, except as far as it should please God to give them to me and at the time He has appointed to do so.”

   As Kirpal Singh has said, ”but only rarely is a truly blessed soul able to acquire this attitude” and ”A few minutes of the Master’s grace, and then….?”

   This says a great deal in a nutshell, and is likely a secret of Sant Mat, where outwardly so much emphasis seems to be on progress being only the achievement of inner experiences. Whereas herein considered that could be seen as 'one kind of progress' ; i.e., progress in concentration. And Paul Brunton also had a nice thing to say about that:

   "Concentration is often a passport to spiritual attainment, but it needs the visa of Humility to make it an impeccable document." (Notebooks, Category 18, 3,2)

   Or as deCaussade as expressed a similar sentiment:

   “It is not until we have reached the bottom of the abyss of our nothingness, and are firmly established there that we can, as Holy Scripture says, “walk before God in justice and truth.” Just as pride, which is founded in a lie, prevents God from bestowing favours on a soul that is otherwise rich in merit, so this happy condition of humiliation willingly accepted, and of annihilation truly appreciated, draws down divine graces on even the most wretched of souls.”

   As one is not always in meditation, there surely must be a way to measure progress in ordinary life. And of course there is, although it may not appear spectacular. It is simply the decrease in a personal point of view, more humility and less ego.

   Again, from deCaussade:

   “You seem to become ever more deeply convinced of your miseries and imperfections. Now that happens only in proportion to our nearness to God, and to the light in which we live and walk…This divine light as it shines more brightly makes us see better and feel more keenly the abyss of misery and corruption within us, and this knowledge is one of the surest signs of progress in the ways of God and of the spiritual life. You ought to think rather more of this, not to pride yourself on it, but to be grateful for it.”

   "For it is a strange blindness which leads us to aspire after perfection by the way of illuminations, of spiritual joy and consolation, the infallible result of which would be to revive ever more and more our self-love and to enable it to spoil everything...You cannot follow the path to perfection in reality except through losses, abnegation, despoilment, death to all created things, complete annihilation, and unreserved abandonment."

   That is strong language; he also says this regarding such purification:

   "One does not begin to know and feel one's spiritual miseries until they begin to be cured." (a passage from Fenelon that deCassuade often quoted)

   And of periods of rapid progressive thereby:

   ”When this storm is past you will...not know how, sufficiently, to thank God for having been so good as to put His own hand to the work, and to operate within your soul in a few months, what with the help of ordinary grace would have taken you, perhaps, twenty years to accomplish, namely, to get rid of a hidden self-love, and of a pride all the more dangerous in being more subtle and more imperceptible. From this poisonous root grows an infinite number of imperfections of which you are scarcely conscious...You would have run a great risk of remaining for a long time subject to these defects, filled, almost without suspecting it, with vanity and self-confidence without either power or will to sound the profound abyss of perversity and natural corruption that you had within your soul...The. Heavenly physician has therefore treated you with the greatest kindness in applying an energetic remedy to your malady, and in opening your eyes to the festering sores which were gradually consuming you, in order that the sight of the matter which ran from them would inspire you with horror. No defect caused by self-love or pride could survive a sight so afflicting and humiliating. I conclude from my knowledge of this merciful design that you ought nether the desire nor to hope for the cessation of the treatment to which you are being subjected until a compete cure has been effected. At present you must brace yourself to receive many cuts with the lancet, to swallow many bitter pills, but go on bravely, and excite yourself to. filial confidence in the fatherly love which administers these remedies.”

   To another of the nuns under his direction he wrote:

   “I greatly approve, my dear Sister, of the patience with which you endure the great emptiness you experience in your soul. By this you will make more progress in one month than you would in several years of sweetness and consolation…It is necessary to traverse this desert to reach during this life the promised land.”

   Real progress, then, is often unrecognized, or even discounted, by a person with various preconceptions as well as an inadequate understanding of how the process often actually works.

   It came to me that this is also a very important point worth considering: deCaussade uncannily seems to point out an important essential purpose of spiritual initiation, which is often lost on the disciple expecting - and sometimes even apparently promised - a never-ending path of star-studded inner experiences from that point on:

   "The ineffable consolations experienced by this good Sister before she fell into this state of obscurity and dryness, was only a merciful kindness of grace, intended to gain the foundation and centre of the soul in which God wished to establish His dwelling and from thence to work insensibly."

   You see? Initiation does formally contact us with the Master, certainly, but - except in the case of rare prepared initiates - are only early graces to capture our attention so that the long process of dismantling the ego can begin. As all the mystics of the church attest, for instance, these experiences are 'sweets' to entice us to begin spiritual practice and not merely succumb to a gross worldly life of illusion.

   deCaussade explains further:

   "You must remember that in almost everyone there is such a depth of self-love, weakness or misery, that it would be impossible for us to recognize any gift of God in ourselves without being exposed to spoil and corrupt it by imperceptible feelings of self-complacency. In this way we appropriate as our own the graces of God, and are pleased with ourselves for being in such and such a state. We attribute the merit to ourselves, not, perhaps, by distinct and studied thought, but by the secret feeling of the heart. Therefore, God, seeing the innermost recesses of the heart, and being infinitely jealous of His glory, is obliged in order to maintain it, and to protect Himself against these secret thefts, to convince us, by our experience of our utter weakness. It is for this purpose that He conceals from us nearly all His gifts and graces. There are hardly more than two exceptions to this rule; on the one hand beginners who require to be attracted and captured through their sense, and on the other hand great saints who, on account of having been purified of self-love by innumerable interior trials are able to recognize in themselves the gifts of God without the least feeling of self-complacency, nor even a glance at themselves. For my part I can bear witness to this constant action of divine Providence. God has so completely hidden from those who have appealed to me, the gifts and graces which he has loaded them, that they cannot see their own progress, nor their patience, humility and abandonment, nor even their love for God...On this account God withdraws what He has given, but He does not take it away to deprive us of it absolutely. He withdraws it to give it back in better way, after it has been purified from this malicious appropriation made by us without our perceiving it. The loss of the gift prevents the feeling of proprietorship, and this gone, the gift is returned a hundredfold."

   And to another under his guidance, he wrote:

   "I have always thought...that the time would come when God, desiring to be the only support of your soul, would withdraw from you these sensible props without even allowing you to learn in what way He could supply all that of which He had deprived you. This state I must own is terrible to nature, but in this terrible state, one simple "Fiat," uttered very earnestly in spite of the repugnance experienced in the soul, is an assurance of real and solid progress. Then there remains nothing but bare faith in God, that is to say, an obscure faith despoiled of all sensible devotion, and residing in the will, as St. Francis of Sales says. Then it is, also, that are accomplished to their utmost extent the words of St. Paul when he said, "We draw near to God by faith," and, "the just man lives by faith."

   I am happy to say that I have finally found a rare reprinted copy of some of the works by Guillore, a spiritual director highly regarded by deCaussade. Here are some of his thoughts on monitoring progress. I wil quote freely as it is in the public domain:

   “There is a great deal of anxiety often felt by holy souls as to their progress. Such persons torment themselves uselessly, and turn the very blessings with which they are endowed into bitterness. There is a remedy for this common malady, and two considerations which will throw light upon the subject. You know that there is a holy impatience for greater nearness to God, greater perfection; the soul languishes under its yearnings, and sighs to be transformed into His Likeness, for whom it craves. This longing is the sole work of the Holy Spirit, and the test thereof is that such a soul is not disquieted or restless…The secret of all these unregulated desires after perfection is that self is at the bottom: these persons would fain be perfect for their own sake, their pride is wounded by the consciousness of their sin and weakness, and thence springs impatience. They want to see an immediate result of their efforts, and will not wait till patience obtains her “perfect work.” They seek to rush headlong into the secrets of the hidden life, and have no notion of waiting meekly in obscurity, till such time as it may please God to give them more light. Then they are disheartened by their falls, and the spectacle of their own faults casts them down, and it is in vain to set before them that this all arises from an unmortified will, and that holy gifts must be sought for in a quiet spirit; nothing calms their restless desire to examine into their own progress.

   But if you would really advance in the spiritual life strive to be at peace notwithstanding your ardent desire after perfection. Leave the whole question of progress to your director. Why should you pervert God’s good seed into thorns and thistles? Why extract trouble and anxiety from the loving grace with which He fills your heart?…God requires of you to labour after spiritual progress, but He never requires that you should know what amount of progress you have made.

   If you neglect this rule, you will have nothing save trouble and perplexity, and probably, if on the other hand you are satisfied that you are making good progress, that very satisfaction will undo the work;—self-esteem is the poison of all holiness. Real detachment will put away all inclination to weigh your own merits, and true humility never perceived its own gifts; it is only alive to its endless imperfections and faults. Be sure that all this restless self-dissection is merely a pretext for indulging pride and self-consciousness, and it can bear no good fruit, for no holy soul ever conceived itself to have made any great strides in goodness.”

   ”God would have the soul He favors unconscious of what He is doing, so that His leadings may be perfectly free…It may be asked whether it is possible for anyone to be led by these extraordinary ways, and not know it? Most possible, and of daily occurrence. Those whom God is leading by special trials and temptations have no idea that they are enduring anything great…Divine simplicity is incapable of perceiving what it really is in itself; and these souls which are most favored of God are farthest from imagining themselves to be in any way different from others.
(Spiritual Guidance, The Substance of Two Or Three of Guillore’s Books, Compiled With an Intr. by T.T. Carter, (London: Rivingtons, 1873), p. 54-57,151)

   Re the latter, recall St. Augustine’s words:

   “Brethren, rather than you would think yourself better or even different from other men, I would that you should return to the world.”

   This is likely the hardest thing for many spiritual seekers to do. One could say it takes courage and a rare faith, but it is really simply inevitable at some point. There is obviously a two-edged sword: if we stop caring for our progress, won’t we just be adrift? But if we don’t let the concern go, how will we ever drop anchor or find safe portage in the storm?

   “A loving faith in the inherent goodness of God will lead one to make wonderful progress without much ongoing effort on the part of an aspirant.” - Kirpal Singh (paraphrased from memory)

   “The practice of accepting at each moment the present state in which God places us, can keep us in peace of mind and cause us to make great progress without undue eagerness. Besides this is a very simple practice. We should adhere to it strongly but nevertheless with an entire resignation to whatever God requires about it.” - deCaussade

   These are some possibilities for pondering! If the process described here is not yours at the moment, rest easy, and file this for future reference if and when the need for it arises. For an additional detailed and balanced overview about the idea of progress, the student may also consider the following chapters from The Notebooks of Paul Brunton: The Measure of Progress and Uncertainties of Progress.

   And if the reader is not already overwhelmed with what may be a new way of looking at the subject, we will not leave without presenting what some may feel as another bombshell (or perhaps off-the-wall) quote from Sri Nisargadatta;

   “No ambition is spiritual. All ambitions are for the sake of the ‘I am’. If you want to make real progress you must give up all idea of personal attainment. The ambitions of the so-called Yogis are preposterous. A man’s desire for a woman is innocence itself compared to the lusting for an everlasting personal bliss. The mind is a cheat. The more pious it seems, the worse the betrayal.” (I AM THAT, p. 299)

   This is gnan of course, and not standard Sant Mat. But before casting it aside as rubbish, consider the meaning intended by the sage. This is first of all not a beginner’s teaching. It is founded, moreover, on a deep grasp of the limitations of starting with the assumption of the conventions of ordinary living, such as “there is a body and I am in it” (and therefore must get out of it, to not suffer, to be free, etc.), only to eventually discard them upon full realization at some imagined future date. Rather, it invites one, regardless of the practices he chooses to engage, to also question any and all such assumptions:

   “Begin to question. The most obvious things are the most doubtful. Ask yourself such questions as: ‘Was I really born?’ ‘Am I really so-and-so?’ ‘How do I know that I exist?’ ‘Who are my parents?’ ‘Have they created me, or have I created them?’ ‘Must I believe all I am told about myself?’ ‘Who am I anyway?’”
(Ibid, p. 298)

   Inquire thus, at least from time to time - if one is drawn by the inner urge or attraction to do so. It can serve as a complement to meditation, and lead to greater insight overall when not meditating, that is, in becoming more present in daily to the truth of ones being. But of course, it is not required.


   Ishwar Puri remarks that once a soul is initiated by a perfect Master his karmic account is finished, and - I believe Kirpal Singh also agreed with this - unless there is serious backsliding this will be his last life in bondage, regardless of spectacular success in meditation. In essence, as Soamiji said, we are to 'make our faith and love firm and leave all the rest is in the hands of the Master,' who will even accomplish the shabd meditation and everything else for us. But generally it takes a while to acquire the confidence, or be left with the final option, to make this kind of mental surrender.

   A paradox then, isn't it? To be fastidious in noting each and every bit of results and simultaneously being detached and unconcerned with results? Is it even possible? Better then to take to the easy path of surrender that the masters offer. But it seems to be the case that this is only really possible when it becomes the only option one has left. Until then, worry, anxiety and guilt offer a powerful argument for the continuation of struggle. Still, the masters with open arms repeatedly make the 'good news' of this offering available to us all. After all the master at heart "is more of a benevolent philanthropist than a teacher handing out marks at an examination" (PB) - unless we want it otherwise.

   Kirpal once said that for the devotee who follows the commandments there is "continuous upward inner progress from day to day." This may have led some to despair, when the aforesaid progress was not so readily forthcoming. But Kirpal didn't always talk this way, nor do most other gurus, whether in Sant Mat or elsewhere. And, perhaps apart from the terminal stages of the path, such progress is not really possible. So it seems counter-productive to expect it, chart it or constantly grade it. The path is never such a straight line - that is only the dream of the ego - but rather a rhythmic, cyclical and spiral movement, with apparent ascents and descents through a number of stages and levels. It is a difficult and unpredictable process when looked at from the human point of view.

   And we have this recorded experience of one initiate to ponder:

   "At initiation I failed to have any inner experience, and when everyone was gone, I told Surat Singh. Surat Singh encouraged me to bring up the problem with Maharaj Ji [Kirpal Singh]. I told Maharaj Ji, "My friend here assured me that You would give me a glimpse of my Divine Home. But that has not been my experience." "As for taking you up there," He said, "it could be done, but in your present condition you will not be able to stay there; nor when you come back would you be able to carry on with your normal life on earth." I then asked, "But would you indeed take me there at the time of my death?" Maharaja Ji said that assurance he had already given at the initiation. However, I need not wait till then, and He advised me to carry on regularly with my meditations as instructed.

   I returned home and sat down for meditation that evening. I soon entered into a state of samadhi and the Sound Current was so strong and so sweet that the three hours within seemed as three minutes. This went on from day to day, and a month later I visited Maharaj Ji. He asked me what I heard inside, and one by one He Himself mentioned the names of various musical instruments for me to confirm. That evening when I returned home, I could not hear the Sound Current at all; it was the same from thence onwards: It was clear that whatever I had received, came from the Master by His grace, and He knew all that I was going through."
(from Sant Kirpal Singh Ji Maharaj:The Ocean of Divine Grace, p. 97-98)

   PB even suggests a well-considered break from meditation is possible at times :

   "He should realize the wisdom of setting up for himself the ideal of a balanced, integral development. If he needs to develop along other lines in order to balance up, the abstention from meditation for periods will do him no harm...The difficulty for many aspirants in attaining such an admirably balanced character lies in their tendency to be obsessed by a particular technique which they followed in former births but which cannot by itself meet the very different conditions of today." (Vol. 13, Pt2,, 3.280 )]

   One Radhasoami guru, Gurinder Singh, has said:

   "It is not necessary to keep on trying to measure your progress all the time. The only thing is to keep the right direction. You do what you can, some people more, some less, so let it be like that [the main point]. All these notions of how fast or how slow you're travelling are still a matter of concentrating on the ego and its progress. It may be developing more virtues, improving itself, getting rid of some of its faults. But you never know. In a new situation, you may develop new errors, mistakes. How can you measure?You can't measure accurately. The ego doesn't really know whether it is progressing or regressing, and certainly not whether it's going to attain. You can't get an exact date when you'll be free of all this business which keeps you down here on earth. The best thing is not to worry about it. Let it go. Which means, to let the ego go, and thereby find peace of mind."

   "All the excitement that Ramakrishna had - that he was going to plunge the sword into himself if God didn't give him enlightenment - all unnecessary. He could have gotten it anyway, even if he didn't threaten God. He really didn't get it until he was visited by the monk who told him there was more to do. Then he got enlightenment really. Until then he thought he had found it. He used to practice meditation on Jesus, Mohammed,and others, having union with their Gods. But the final idea is not that. It's not you uniting with God, but forgetting you. God does all the action."

   And ultimately, this 'action' also may means something like the death or outshining of the separate 'ego-and-perhaps-even-soul-identity' itself. Consider, what is the worst thing, in essence, that the usual spiritual seeker or meditator can imagine in the beginning stages of his journey? That which really can't be imagined, but I will tell you what I think. For extensive details please see the above-mentioned The Deeper Meanings of the Dark Night of the Soul on this website. It is to be reduced of all ability to feel any interiority to himself, to be emptied of the capacity to exercise any spiritual exercise of introvertive meditation, the complete dispersal of attention without, and maybe not even to just feel a sense of presence, with the latter withdrawn - in short, to be made void. And neither from ignorance or depravity, but just to be tried in the fire, whether or not one believes that is necessary. To really to know his emptiness, not just analytically in a Tibetan Buddhist sense of knowing the 'interdependent origination of all phenomena', or to experience a deep mediative Void, but to be personally emptied of all tangible power of the soul, naked before God with nothing to take credit for, no good works to justify one's salvation. No Master or other person can prevent this rotting out of your own being from happening; indeed, it is the Self within that is doing it. This, no doubt, is a special and extreme situation, but stands as an example of a point where self-introspection is shown at this level for what it is: no longer solely a means to remember the Master and higher power - which in the beginning it well may be - but the last attempt of an ego to save itself. And although one is left for a time feeling without a rudder or guiding light, this harrowing process of inner emptying is actually the best thing that could happen; the void that opens up is in fact ones true Self calling one home or seeking to emerge. This 'death', as all traditions tell us, is in a sense even an illusory one, although it will seem very real when it happens - that is, until one gets used to it and surrenders into the source of one’s true joy.

   The issue of 'progress' is very difficult if one looks at a variety of teachings, and considers a variety of stages of maturity of disciples in each. For instance, as discussed in "The Depths of This Thing" and "Not a One-Shot" on this website, one might accept a basic classification of stages for a framework of discussion such as the four Buddhists stages: stream enterer, once-returner, non-returner, and Arhant (with additional, liberated stages beyond these basic four). These could, on a certain manner of understanding, correspond to the 'four lives to enlightenment' doctrine in Sant Mat. [This is not so completely unique of a teaching as it may seem at first glance; in the Yoga-Vasishta it is said that those who associate with a jnani will attain mukti in four or five lifetimes]. These are not arbitrary stages, nor are all required in every life - moreover, it is hard for us to discern what stage one is in - it takes at least a Master to know. But basically they correlate to integration and transcendance of the physical, emotional-psychic, and mental 'hindrances' or karmas, as well as the fundamental root ignorance of egoity. This takes one, in Sant Mat terms, perhaps, to the super-causal level (~Arhat), where the individuated soul is free of birth and death, but not yet non-dually realized as it is in Sach Khand, the first of, in this system, the 'god-realizing' stages. But there are many factors to consider regarding progress. It all take decades and lifetimes for most of us, and it is very hard to look at the average practitioner of a path and evaluate the universal efficacy of the techniques, as we would have to look at many things: (1) how wisely do they practice; (2) how diligent are they; (3) what is their karmic situation; (4) how ‘advanced’ were they when they started; (5) and various other factors, including last but not least, grace. Then we would have to evaluate how they would have progressed on another path with another teacher. Who has the intuition to comprehend all of this? Even great masters often demonstrate an inability to evaluate such things, especially comparing various paths to ascertain their relative strengths and weaknesses.

   Concentrating at the ajna chakra, for instance, can lead to different results for different practitioners of different paths. Chakras are doorways to different dimensions of experience, but what happens when working with a particular chakra depends not only on what chakra is the focus, but also - most importantly - on the understanding, maturity, and quality of awareness of the practitioner. In Sant Mat one is only concerned with one chakra. If one does vipassana, however, in the ajna center, which is certainly an option, then one will have a very different set of experiences than if one is willful, concentration-based, and seeks to ignore the rest of the body and emotions. There is a whole spectrum of possible ways to practice at the ajna or any chakras. We cannot easily make generalizations about the effects of chakra-centered meditations as it much depends on other factors. The nada and gazing meditations as usually taught these days in Sant Mat are a kind of middle path between the attitude of vipassana and the attitude of excessive inversion/concentration such as in the Buddhist jhanas. They are a hybrid path that is supposed to allow withdrawal of sensory currents to take place, but very patiently, without striving or efforting in a goal-oriented, willful fashion - except that leaving the body is still generally considered as the main goal. It is taught that one should focus at the third eye center with complete relaxation, patience, and without agenda (but on the other hand, keep track of all your experiences to see if you are progressing). This will sometimes lead to samadhi solely through technique, but ideally not until the lower chakras are adequately illuminated by the process. Sometimes it is admitted that one should not go up until all karmas are paid off. Kirpal wrote:

   "If a Master were to take a disciple up without his debts being fully paid up, those same debts would become an obstacle to further progression - because the disciple would not then like to remain in the world, but be forever immersed in the inner bliss." (10)

   Note how the above might also be construed as hinting that the final goal is not just to leave the body, as some other Sant Mat teachers have also said - although not usually to beginners. Now, one might fault Sant Mat for under-emphasizing the importance of teaching extensively about the importance of the quality or attitude of the meditator in the practice. There are those that maintain too much of a striving mode, which means some will rise above the body as an expression more of technique, rather than overall ripeness. So when looking at such practitioners, their character may not be very unusual, but they are doing the practice in the wrong spirit, and have risen above the body prematurely. But, statistically speaking, only a fairly small percentage of practitioners get - ripely - to that stage in this lifetime. One need not hurry or worry, however, because in Sant Mat the progression is in the hands of the Master-Power, and one may be permitted to continue on the inner planes, and that or any future rebirth will both be auspicious. In this light one can appreciate that it is really important to get over a concern with the notion of time, which is part of illusion. If in one's life he finds that the concerns, memories, and events are becoming more and more like a passing dream, to that extent he is closer to Reality.

   But not everyone may at all times feel suited to this kind of path, so one may not be able to measure one's stage of development by comparing oneself solely to this model. A 'karma yogi' will not be learning to withdraw from the body (or only eventually, slowly, patiently, for most). And a 'vipassana yogi' will never rise above the body as a rule, unless they switch to inversion practices. It may come as a surprise to a Sant Mat practitioner that every legitimate, authentic path has not had as its goal that of leaving the body. So, one can possibly have a 'non-returner' practicing zazen who has never traversed inner planes, and a willful inversion yogi who has gotten to Trikuti, but is only at the first stage of awakening (stream-entry). This topic is complicated, as one can see. Do not struggle with this material if it is not useful. The moral of the story is that we need to be careful in trying to understand all of this, in comparing paths, and in using practitioners of those paths as examples of what must or should happen on those paths. [Note: differences between Buddhist vipassana and concentrative jhanas or absorptions, and the concentrative inversions or samadhis on mystical paths are discussed in Part Two of this series].

   There is also the unpredictable fact that the action of the divine Power will stir up much in the disciple; this relates to the dark night experience, but not entirely. Swami Muktananda described how all of his faults were brought to the surface after experiencing much bliss at the feet of his Guru:

   "Where had my rapture, my ecstasy gone? My pride and elation had been taken away, and I was suddenly the same poor, miserable wretch that I had been before meeting Nityananda.. My mind was filled with remorse. Where was my earlier intoxication? Alas, what had happened?..My peace of mind had been destroyed, and all my thoughts were leading me into a deep melancholy...My body was sore all over, and my head was hot with anger, fear, and worry that danced around inside me..I cannot write the horrible thoughts that filled my mind, but - it's true - I had them. I was obsessed with impure, hateful, and sinful thoughts...I was assailed by all sorts of perverse and defiling emotions...The whole universe was on fire. A burning ocean had burst open and swallowed up the whole earth. An army of ghosts and demons surrounded me...At the time, I had not heard nor read about such a state. I had only heard pompous talk about Vedanta and explanations of its verses...My Guru worship and the mantra Guru Om, Guru Om disappeared. Instead, in their place came a powerful sexual desire. Who knows where it had been hiding all this time? It completely possessed me. ..I could think of nothing but sex! My whole body boiled with lust, and I cannot describe the agony..I tried to explain it to myself in some way, but I couldn't...I felt frightened, ashamed, discontented. It started to affect my brain. I brooded, and my anxiety grew. I thought, "This disaster is the result of some terrible sin"...I sat there in deep depression. I began to be afraid of all women. My courage had waned. I was afraid I might indulge in wanton behavior. I kept thinking of all the sadhakas of former times who had fallen from yoga, deviated from the path, and destroyed all their good karma. I remembered the stories of Ajamila, Surdas, and even saint Tulsidas, and wept. The overwhelming power of Kamaraja, the king of lust, terrified me." (10a)

   Kind of hard to fit this into the diary! This is included here solely to make one aware of its possibility. And there is one more thing: in the schools of tantra, a principle is noted called Yoga Bhoga Yathae, i.e., that sometimes one can not get rid of an obsession without indulging it. Traditional yogis say such an approach is akin to pouring fuel on a raging fire, and in many cases this is true. But with grace at other times it may not be so, but rather, invoke a trust in the wisdom of embracing the shadow side of oneself. Enough said for now.

   A note on perfecting oneself

   What exactly does that mean? However one may imagine it, it is probably not the genuine thing. For another perspective, one hindered by a spiritual blindness which seeks perpetually to ascend into light, with little or no self-undermining snags along the way, we turn to the words of spiritual director Jean-Pierre deCaussade, who wrote:

   "You cannot follow the path of perfection in reality except through losses, abnegation, despoilment, death to all things, complete annihilation, and unreserved abandonment. We need not be astonished when we experience affliction, when even our reason totters, that poor reason so blind in the ways of faith; for it is a strange blindness which leads us to aspire after perfection by the way of illumination, of spiritual joy and consolation, the infallible result of which would be to revive even more and more our self-love and to enable it to spoil everything."

   And more:

   "To feel no surprise at ones miseries is a good beginning for a humility founded on self-knowledge; but to feel no trouble at the keen and habitual recollection of them is a very great grace, and the source of a complete distrust of self, and of a true and perfect confidence in God."

   In short, this itself is a very good of progress. What progress? Progress from a personal to an impersonal point of view. St. John of the Cross, in The Dark Night of the Soul, tells us that

   "Some of these beginners, too, make little of their faults, and at other times become over-sad when they see themselves fall into them, thinking themselves to have been saints already; and thus they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another imperfection. Often they beseech God, with great yearnings, that He will take from them their imperfections and faults, but they do this that they may find themselves at peace, and may not be troubled by them, rather than for God's sake; not realizing that, if He should take their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder and more presumptuous still."

   In this light our perfection may be found more and more in the increasing sense of distrust of self, and its attendant humility, which, so to speak, come from 'trying and failing'. According to Lao Tzu, that itself is success, or progress. We do not like to hear this, but perhaps older initiates will sense its truth.

   There is another thing to ponder. Besides the categories of truthfulness, love for all, non-violence, chastity, and selfless service, there are quite a few other qualities or tendencies that may be specifically important for any one person to become conscious of. These include: sloth, gluttony, pride, envy, jealousy, worry, negative fear (as opposed to 'holy fear'), courage, vigilance, patience, worry, self-doubt, self-love, hesitancy, and even more individual characteristics. One could try to squeeze all of these into the current diary form, but it probably doesn't work very well. Nor does ignoring them, for beginners. Many of these may go under what Gurdjieff called the 'chief feature' - uninspected or unconscious determinants that govern our behavior and which must become conscious. Merely trying to be 'good' and neglecting the 'shadow' side of the personality will not result in substantial progress, but rather crystalization around a squeaky clean identity that is its own form of bondage.

   Then there is the question of balance of one's character. This may seem to stray far afield from the subject of the diary, but, at least for those starting out in life with many years ahead, it bears mentioning. Paul Brunton talks a lot about developing and then achieving a balance among the qualities of feeling, thinking, and willing, or essentially, the heart, the mind, and the will. Some mystics, for instance, have an overdeveloped feeling nature, but little discrimination, or even less ability to get things done. Much of the history of mysticism that comes down to us seems to sometimes even reinforce this as a desirable trait. So it would seem to be useful to spend some time finding out one's weaknesses in these areas. This is not so much a matter of sinning or doing wrong, but of understanding what needs working on in ones development as a human being. Brunton even goes so far as to argue that the full maturation and balancing of these qualities in a spiritual aspirant leads to a fusion of them into what he calls 'insight,' or the awakened spiritual state:

   "If it is to be a continuous light that stays with him and not a fitful flash, he will first, to cast out all negative tendencies, thoughts, and feelings; second, to make good the deficiencies in his development; third, to achieve a state of balance among his faculties." [Notebooks]

   This could be seen as coming under the heading of 'sins of omission' that Sant Kirpal mentioned in the diary, but which was perhaps not explained or articulated fully to our understanding at the time. For instance, it would be pretty hard to see not doing, or not being capable of adequately doing, something necessary to the situation, if one did not have some insight into his character development.

   Something else for our consideration

   As mentioned, Sant Kirpal Singh said many times that the "subconscious reservoir of feelings and thoughts must be completely drained out in order for one to be filled with love for the Lord/Master."

   I wonder, once again, do we really have any idea what that would entail?! This, in my understanding, is a major ordeal. On the one hand, the subconscious reservoir can not be entirely drained out - certainly not by the disciple under his own power. This is a Herculean task undertaken by the Master or Master-Power. The disciple him or herself will never do it. On the other hand, the major unconscious karmic hindrances or samskaras will themselves prevent their own exposure. It is only well onto the path, in many cases - after a certain amount of love and light and awakening has been infused into the disciple - that such deeper purification will and can take place, and often at the apparent loss of one's spirituality. After this whirlwind - of "many crucifying spiritual operations and a spiritual death that follows," as deCaussade says - one WILL be filled with the true love of the master - which is the love OF the master.

   deCaussade writes:

   "The extent to which the soul is purified in its most secret recesses is the measure of its union with the God of all holiness."

   This is, what you say, 'talking turkey.' Enough purification, and nothing less than that, will take place for the soul's purposes and the divine destiny for each individual. The job will get done. The individual cannot do it, however, he can only get so far; only the Master-Power or grace can accomplish such an immense task (with the soul's cooperation of course). For one thing, we will run out of time. And second, the subconscious could also be said to be the source of our creativity. It is not all negative. Thirdly, there are not exactly a finite number of faults to be 'weeded out'. They are legion (which is why sages like Ramana Maharshi speak so much about striking at the root and not the branches) - but there are habitual reactive states, however, held in place by core beliefs and deep wounds and their subsequent habitual actions and reactions, creating a chronic sense of insufficiency, of being not good enough, that govern many of our responses to life, whether that be either puffed-up pride or, equally, shame/fearful timidity/false humility - and these must be seen. I think most seasoned questors have realized by now that simply seeing one's faults, and certainly looking at them judgementally as faults or failures, is not always the most efficient method of dealing with them. Perhaps this is why Buddhism has made such large strides in recent years. (To be fair, nowhere is it stated that one should view the categories in the diary in terms of judgement about failures - but the very calling them as failures tends to lead in that direction in many cases. One is called to observe them impersonally, as much as possible, which has a merit in itself. In the end it is more of a matter of stages of practice as to whether or not the exercise is valuable for one).

   But the eradication of the vasanas is a major part of the spiritual process. It is not a neat and clean, linear process, moreover; it can be very messy, to say the least! One can seemingly weed out all failures in all categories of the diary form, and still not know oneself! Obedience, however, will lead to the Lord to 'put His own hand to the work,' that is, grace will intervene and get the job done. For a sober assessment, please read "The Dark Night of the Soul" on this website, to see what many great souls have said on this subject. We will have no right to complain when such is the answer to our prayers for grace. St. John explains:

   "It would indeed be very unjust to complain of this God of infinite mercy, Who alone knows how to purify your soul, a thing you would never have been able to do yourself. Your very complaints prove that you would never have had the courage to put an end to your self-love which alone impedes the reign of divine love in your heart. Bless our Lord for sparing you the trouble, and because He only asks you to allow Him a free hand to accomplish this work in you."

   Brunton further writes:

   "The ego does not give itself up without undergoing extreme pain and extreme suffering. It is placed upon a cross whence it conniver be resurrected again, if it is truly to be merged in the Overself. Inner crucifixion is therefore a terrible and tremendous actuality in the life of every attained mystic. His destiny may not call for outer martyrdom but it cannot prevent his inner martyrdom."

   But also:

   "He will come to the point where he will give upon the burden of always trying to do something for his spiritual development, the burden of believing that it rests entirely upon his own shoulders. When a man loses faith in his own goodness, to the point of despairing hopelessness, he is really ready to pray properly and practice utter dependence upon the Higher Power's grace. When he realizes that the evil in himself and in other men is so deep and so strong that there is nothing below the surface of things he can do, he is forced to turn to this power. When he abandons further trust in his own nature and clings to no more personal hopes, he really lets go of the ego. This gives him the possibility of being open to grace."

   Kirpal's point, then, is that a real transformation must take place. This can not be done simply by sitting down and thinking over the surface layer thoughts one has had throughout the day, while the real binding tendencies remain hidden. So a means must be created to reveal all this. It is basically done by satsang, the company of the realizer, and bringing the light of awareness into the mind, in place of ignoring, indulging, or struggling against one's egoic deformities. And living life with as much courage, patience and perseverance as one can in the man-body and the world, the true 'womb of the buddhas'. In other words, in relationship with the demands of life one will grow in self-introspective insight and character. We thus meet and consume our shadow material over time, without wallowing in it. It is a fire, no doubt, and a very individualized education we are getting. Some will need to 'take a bite out of life', stand for themselves, be brave, while for others the challenge is more to be quiet, humble and contemplative. Additional key questions to ask may be, "what am I afraid of ?", and, a really big one for many is, "how often do I automatically say, 'no'?" - No to life, no to taking a chance, no to a new idea, whatever. This is not one of the 'five faults,' per se, but a still major block to finding out about oneself. How can one find the new and 'unexpected' if he is always expecting the 'expected'? This is really an essential quality to cultivate.

   In any case, "education comes by negotiating difficulties, not by running away from them in the name of surrender," says Brunton.

   "There is not actual surrender, but only self-deception, if it is made before reason, will, and self-reliance have been exhausted. There is no such easy escape out of the difficulties, financial or otherwise, as mere verbal assertion of surrender."

   True surrender, it seems, will only be able to be made when one is mature enough. So there is something in all of this for everybody, at every stage of practice and on every path.

   There is thus simply no formulaic expression that all must aspire to. It doesn't work that way. Kirpal's "don't spare yourself" regarding self-introspection is true for a very strong and mature person; it is in fact a recommendation by many wise teachers in diverse traditions. deCaussade wrote, "With certain souls He allows nothing to escape notice, and about them He has a most fastidious jealousy; and it is a sure truth that souls which are objects of this jealousy, cannot, without infidelity, allow themselves to do what other persons can do without imperfection." But there is a delicate balance act on the path between the foundational disciplines and implicit obedience (without which surrender is said to be impossible), and at a later time, as the author of The Cloud of Unknowing expressed, the need for "a generosity of response and holy indifference to rules and regulations, a call for complete self-forgetting, even to the extent of awareness of self."

   We mentioned Gurdjieff. Sant Mat of course is not the Fourth Way. It is a bhakti path with a strong component of grace as a potent factor. One can not forever avoid real self-knowledge, however, which requires freedom for experimentation, and allowances for differences. The path is not superimposed from without, in a real sense you are the path. There are truths that each person must find out for himself. It is not a cookie-cutter process whereby one merely copies the image of his Ideal. Everyone is unique, and their process is unique, even if they have the Word as a divine intermediary or inner guide. The 'integral' part of this yoga is not so much as 'cleaning up' what is here below, but the 'low' ceasing to be the low. The old-school method of anxiously searching out one's faults must be superceded, or at least balanced, with a hefty dose of self-acceptance, gentle observation, and peaceful abidance in being. For as C.G. Jung wrote:

   "That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love an enemy in the name of Christ - all these are undoubtedly great virtues. But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yes the very fiend himself - that these are within me, and that I myself am the enemy who must be loved - what then?...Had it been God himself who drew near to us in this most despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed."

   Part of the problem that must be faced is that the 'modern dispensation' in Sant Mat is to give an experience, and foster inner meditation, prior to the adaptation to the traditional qualifications of character. This is not wrong, but has inherent limitations, such as we have been outlining. In addition, traditional qualifications tended towards favoring those inclined towards the monastic vocation, whereas we all live fairly active lives. But still, one must penetrate the surface layer of mind and reactive emotion, which means a journey into core wounds and layers of mental preconceptions.

   The point being suggested is that the essence of the diary exercise must be made relevant to our times, and to the heart of the devotee. There must be a felt connection. Might not one, then, create one's own diary, something that personally means something to you, that speaks to your heart and and feels useful? "Because then you are only relying on the wiles of your own mind and ego and one will not be an obedient devotee," some will say. This can be as true today as it has been for thousands of years. On the other hand, much is changing. And some might say that such timid fear has no place in real devotion. And that of course is a two-edged sword, for it has been written, "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Especially when one begins to see that Higher Power working, one necessarily develops simultaneously a great love and holy fear, or awe of the higher values and greatness. The sage Plotinus wrote:

   "Such vision is for those only who see with the Soul's sight - and at the vision, they will rejoice, and awe will fall upon them and a trouble deeper than all the rest could ever stir, for now they re moving in the realm of Truth. This is the spirit that beauty must ever induce, wonderment and a delicious trouble, longing and love and a trembling that is all delight. For the unseen all this may be felt as for the seen; and this the Souls feel for it, every Soul in some degree; but those the more deeply that are more truly apt to this higher love - just as all take delight in the beauty of the body but all are not stung as sharply, and those only that feel the keener wound are known as Lovers." (11)

   Yet we are not directly speaking of the revelation of this holy fear, which comes to all who have a glimpse of divine power, but rather, how many years will one nurse a timid human fear before he comes into some spiritual independence and trust in himself, in his own Being? A point may come when he will face his inadequate attempts to 'empty the ocean with a teaspoon', and surrenders in despair of himself. That point remains to be seen in each case, but it is a great moment. One cannot surrender before trying - that would be phony - because you can't kid the soul. But this stage will be reached in due course. The diary as such, in my opinion, was mean to be a tool essentially for beginners to use for a few years, until some insight, repentance, and self-understanding was gained. The heart weeps for older initiates still struggling to fill it out after twenty or thirty or forty years, without a true heartfelt connection to the process. But the grace of the Master is great enough to overcome all of these obstructions and problems.

   Certainly, the manner in which one relates to it is most important. If one truly has an experimental, objective, neutral attitude of simple observation, without guilt or discouragement - or pride in seeing few failures - recognizing that the Master is here and now and not far away, followed by honest prayer and affirmation, then one may derive benefit. It is suggested, however, that if one finds it all too mechanical, which apparently many do, then he find another way for this daily time for remembrance and cultivation of virtue so important for his eventual full surrender. The word virtue comes from the Latin root 'vir' meaning man. So this is one part of a process of man-making, as our Master used to say. And, as one ancient Chinese sage once expressed, "if we do not cultivate virtue, how then are we different from ordinary men?" We are not at all saying, as some neo-advaitins do, that this is not important. Only that it must also be balanced with the wisdom of St. Augustine, who said, "Brethren, if you should think yourselves to be better or even different than other men, I would that you should return to the world."

   We mentioned 'holy fear'. This has been spoken of by Masters, saints, and church Fathers for ages. It is an accompaniment of the experience of bliss and inner joy. This is far beyond the state of fearing a despotic or punishing God. Paradoxically, when one, after metanoia and purification, has an inner awakening, he is overwhelmed by the extent of the divine majesty. Kirpal states:

   When one experiences the inner Nectar, one feels enwrapped or adorned with Truth itself. In this blissful condition, fear enters the heart along with the love - for one becomes fully aware that all one's thoughts and actions are known. These two things both come with adornment of Truth: love and fear...If a person really knows something of that Power, he has an awe-filled awareness. The more he sees, the more awe enters his heart...'When the mouth is read from the pan (betal-leaf)', i.e., Naam, and the heart-strings are pulled, he is filled with a deep fear. He is then neither alive nor dead. He cannot live in such agony, but he cannot die because of the joy. Do you understand a little? This is the disciple's condition." (Sat Sandesh, August 1972, p. 12)

   This is a delicate point but one we felt necessary to mention for the completeness of this discussion. Seems hard to call it fear, but, that's what they call it. Perhaps one day it will reveal itself to everyone.

   For now, one course of action to take in regards to the diary exercise is, like Benjamin Franklin, and recommended by Kirpal, to choose to 'work' on one virtue at a time, and that has in fact sometimes been recommended, and in fact is good advice - recognizing that 'working' on faults has different connotations in varying traditions. From another perspective, however, 'virtue' as a whole isn't really about just following the rules so we won't go to hell. It is about learning what is of value for our growth on the path, what helps lead us out of samsara or illusion, and living up to an ideal. That is one aspect of virtue, or 'accumulating 'merit and wisdom' as the Buddhists say. But the other half is about self-acceptance, self-honesty, self-love, and being willing not to be perfect. And that half is often harder than the first. Yet without our imperfections there would be no growth, no evolution possible. So remorse over a particular action to some extent is natural and good, but guilt over own entire evolutionary situation is a negative judgement.

   Plato's precepts to Aristotle may be useful; 'Do not sleep until you have put three questions to yourself: (1) Have I committed any sin? (2) Have I omitted any duty by accident? (3) Have I left anything undone intentionally?' These lead to further inquiry: 'Why?' - the purpose being to get at ones unconscious tendencies and motivations, rather than just to keep score of faults.

   Crying out to God, confession, wrenching heart-felt regret over past actions, and resolving to do better, for the sake of the enlightenment of all beings, is also part of 'arousing bodhicitta' or compassion. So it has its rightful place. Such confession is best followed by consent to the divine Will, and acceptance of the always present forgiveness. The latter especially keeps us out of the 'pit'. Eventually, or even now - for it is not required that one wait - one will be, in old-fashioned religious language, delivered from his wretchedness, and a spirit of joy will arise in one's heart. A new day will dawn, and one will then proclaim:

   "He put a new song in my heart, a hymn of praise to our God." (Psalm 40:3)


   "Little darlin', the smiles returning to their faces....Here comes the sun..."

   Kirpal himself from time to time would make plain that the 'diary' was largely a means to remember the Master at the end of the day:

   "God is within you..The more you come into contact with Him, love will overflow...Outwardly have sweet remembrance. The diary is for that purpose. Every time confession is there: every time you do - "Oh," - you remember. So He is there, your true friend who will never leave you until the end of the world. There should be some excuse to remember, that's all: may be in any way. Perhaps I told you the other day that an old lady at the Ashram, who was unlearned, was also asked to maintain the diary forms, and, every morning, bowed down. She simply offered flowers to the diary form and bowed down [note: more or less a form of puja]. After seven or eight days, I asked, "How do you find?" She replied, "Master is within me, walking with me." So it [the diary] is some excuse for sweet remembrance. May be anything." (12)


   "The diary form is overhead. The diary form is the master watching you, don't deceive him."

   Yes, but in ignorance and with no blame attached this can be interpreted in a childish way; we say, don't deceive your Self, is the important point. And in a conversation Kirpal let this slip out, too:

   "A diary means that once in a while when you do something important you put it down, that's all...If you are watching yourself fully each moment, then where will your mind go? The mind won't affect you." (12a)

   And this is not necessarily meant to be forever:

   "I would say that's good if you've got nothing. What more do you want? When there is nothing to put down, then it's all right. But still have self-introspection. Later you won't need it. On the way we still need it, now and then something creeps up." (12b)

   “If you really keep the diary, every moment you are confessing, you are remembering your Master. If you have constant remembrance then there is no difference between the Master and yourself. In that case it’s different. Otherwise the diary is a blessing.” (12c)

   Ultimately a desired result from this exercise is the following:

   "So love is the one thing through which you can have the sweet remembrance and the constant remembrance. You'll dream of Him. And when you go into a fast sleep, you will reverberate: without knowing it, the same things will be coming out of your mouth. Christ says, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love".....To follow him means to surrender your will to his wishes; not as a slave, mind that, but as a friend....So whenever Masters come, they do not ant to make slaves of you; they address you as friends, so that you may know what they are saying. A slave cannot know a friend; a friend can know a friend better. So Masters do not make slaves of you...They say, "I am a man like you. Here are my words; abide in them, and you abide in me." (13)

   A complement to the diary is the 'aspiring to the higher' part of our practice, the filling oneself with thoughts of purity and of one's ideal, of whom the true Master is hopefully a living embodiment. This way, it is like continuing to pour cream into a coffee cup until the coffee is 'bleached out', instead of just analyzing the coffee grounds, which is rather a much harder method. However, to some extent this is still an 'outside-in' approach. Which is why that, along with this guru-contemplation, attentive awareness itself, to itself and including to all thoughts, words, and actions, is at the heart of many major traditions. Trying to hold only one thought in one's mind is but one way, and generally a temporary stage at that. More on this later.

   One must simply feel what is right in his own particular case. And that may change through the years as he goes along on the path. Certainly, to repeat, there is a liability in just assuming, as is common today, that since the teaching says that soul and God are ultimately One, that there is actually now no doer, and self-introspection in his or her case is therefore not necessary. That would quite likely be self-deception. Living the life and self-understanding go hand in hand. 'Pruning the branches of the tree', so to speak, may not be as fundamental as 'cutting the roots of the ego', as Ramana Maharshi often remarked, but in deference to Ramana, the energy needed for the latter may be sapped by one's uninspected and purified faults. Therefore, at some stage self-improvement is one of the most important things for one to pay attention to. Kirpal definitely was in the 'cutting-the-branches-as-preparation-for-cutting-the-trunk-school'. [And actually, contrary to popular opinion, Ramana also stood for that approach at times also. Someone once asked him to be given nirvikalpa samadhi by touch just like Sri Ramakrishna had done to Swami Vivekananda. Ramana asked him, "You are another Vivekananda, I assume?" He added, "It is difficult to appreciate the need for self-analysis and self-criticism. The tendency is to think of oneself as perfect. Though this person was eager to see whether I had the power of Sri Ramakrishna, he was not bothered whether he himself merited comparison with Vivekananda. That is because he assumed that he was perfect. Sri Ramakrishna bestowed that rare state upon Vivekananda alone because he was a person of rare spiritual merit." (13a) U.G. Krishnamurti had boldly asked Ramana to 'give him what he had,' to which Ramana answered, "I can give, but can you take it?" Kirpal also said to people who asked for such grace, "But are you ready to receive?" Most people back down out of justified fear, recognizing under the power of the sage's gaze their lack of preparation for what in fact is 'death'. So to set the matter straight, Ramana did criticize people for their 'wandering and perverted ways', and stressed the need for repentance, prayer, and self-introspection, but not in an excessive degree in place of a primary emphasis on self-inquiry or surrender to the guru].

   But, anyway, at some point, and hopefully before to many precious too many years go by, through grace, the basic impossibility of the task of egoic self-perfection looms larger in one's consciousness and he finds a simple noticing of inner humiliation is all that is required, and one will drop the lower attitude for a higher. Which doesn't mean one will drop morality, only that it will have become second nature to a large extent, and noticing identification with the ego-self becomes more primary. On the other hand (for nothing is always totally clear-cut), it might be true as it is taught on this path that one will not cease to be the 'doer' until one goes beyond the causal plane - or perhaps its 'non-inversion' equivalent on others. This remains debatable among sages. it might be true. Yet there is also truth in the statement that the more you think you are the doer, you are the doer. That was Swami Sivananda's view, a Yogi highly respected by Kirpal Singh. Of course, there is a difference between thinking that one is not thinking he is a doer, and actually not thinking one is a doer! And even this is not wholly the truth, for it is said that in the highest stage, or from the highest perspective, beyond dualistic conceptions, neither the notion of 'doership' nor 'non-doership' apply.

   But the bottom line is that relative wisdom will continue to be accumulated for quite a while, along with developing insight, and therefore, as Kabir says, one needs always have a healthy fear of pride, "for pride has fooled many sages". Humility first and last is the adornment of the saints.

   Perhaps a general rule may be stated as the Prophet Muhammed once did:

   "That which is lawful is clear, and that which is unlawful likewise, but there are certain doubtful things between the two from which it is well to abstain."

   Or as William Law wrote:

   "He [the aspirant with right intention] does not ask what is allowable and pardonable, but what is commendable and praiseworthy."

   And finally, as reknown Buddhist master Honen said:

   "While believing that even the man who is so sinful that he has committed the ten evil deeds and the five deadly sins may be born into the Pure Land, as far as you are concerned, be not guilty even of the smallest sins."

   In sum, while we learn and practice self-acceptance, self-forgetting and being in the Now, we still strive towards the ideal, our soul's image, if not for ourselves then for our useful future capacity for service to others.

   It might be mentioned that a stage or a time may be reached when the following may also be true:

   "Disobedience which engenders humility and a sense of poverty is better than obedience which engenders hauteur and a sense of pride." - Ibn 'Ata'illah


   "With some people God will transform their disobedience into obedience, so that their actions will not be counted as transgressions before God. With others, their apparent disobedience is in itself obedience, since it is in conformity with the Divine Will, although the Divine Commandment contradicts what the Divine Will demands of them." - Jili

   Oh, this life is not always what it seems! And how well we might profit by the words of Suzuki Roshi:

   "What we're doing is so important we had better not take it too seriously!"

   And similarly:

   "The angels can fly," said C.K. Chesterton, "because they take themselves lightly."

   The Value of Contemplation and Study - Not only Meditation

   Doing nothing but meditation can become an imbalance, and in fact is not recommended by any great teaching of the past, except for certain periods of time. As an example, in Buddhism they have always had 'three baskets' or tripitaka - concentration/meditation, contemplation/metaphysical study, and moral discipline/service. Today we must add work and family. If meditation becomes excessive, and excessively goal-driven, it can reinforce the very separate identity one is trying to transcend. Therefore it is only natural for one to embrace contemplation of spiritual truths. It is necessary to stress that this essentially is not a matter of intellectual wrestling, but of random open-minded pondering of the wonder of existence. Topics are unlimited, but might include any aspect of the great Mystery that is Life itself, from the most simple to the most profound (which are not always so different). Some suggestions are as follows, but it must be said that many will not be attracted to what may seem like too much of a 'jnani' emphasis, which is fine, consider only if you are attracted to thee forms of inquiry, but certainly perennial ones have been: The nature of the Soul (Is it One, or many?); Daily life (Is it to be embraced, avoided, or witnessed?; What is the soul? Is it really in a body? In what way? How do we know? Just because we feel it is so? What is 'body'?; Without the idea of I-am-the-body, where is 'in' and 'out'? What is 'matter'? 'Where' is the soul?; What is time/ timelessness?; What 'awakens'?; What is consciousness? - Something we possess, or something we are? If awareness is what we are, and not something we contain or possess, what does this say about the 'prodigality' of our identity as a holder of awareness 'returning' to where Awareness has never departed from? [This is for pondering, we do not suggest with some that there is no path, although it may appear so at the end]; Why do the 'highs' alternate with the 'lows?' Why does aridity often follow upon illumination? And why do the saints say the latter process is normal and all right?; What exactly is meant by 'liberation in life'? Is it different in different traditions?; Why do I react to such and such (person, experience) the way that I do?; What is/are my purpose(s) in life?; How might my beliefs determine how I interpret my experiences, including the inner states? Do I really know what anything is? How often do I judge what is good and what is bad? Do I see others as Kal? What would I be without those thoughts?; If we are truly a child of God, must we wait until the end of the path to enjoy being that - does He not wish for us to play, be free of guilt or judgement, or fear of death, right now? Is something holding us back? If so, what is it?...What was it like being held in your mother's arms? What would it be like to feel at home in the world? [Kirpal said, not only are there "many mansions in the House of the Father", but also, "the world is the Father's house, and the various countries the many rooms therein"]. Do you trust that God who is Perfection is being you right now? (If not, why not? What are the implications of this?); And, why is the sky blue? - How lovely it is!

   Contemplation helps our understanding of the various states, rather than just the having of them; it fosters intuition; inspires and cultivates equanimity and balance. Many matters need to be pondered in order to grow in relative wisdom, without a fear-based approach to life and spirituality. All of this can be gently and profitably included in a total life of practice.

   The need for study should be self-evident: through it we grow in tolerance and understanding, moving beyond provincial and limited preconceptions and attitudes over what is truth or the spiritual path. Many books are the inspired words of saints and sages, and have the capacity, when read sincerely with a desire for wisdom, to activate latent vasanas or 'memory traces' within us and lead to awakenings or spiritual glimpses and intuitions. Thus they may be seen partly as a true form of 'white magic' which only the sage can do. This practice is not necessary unless one feels the urge; one can with confidence tread the path laid out by his God-ordained Master alone, but if we are to be part of the merging global understanding, we would do well, and avoid many pitfalls along the way, by getting as broad an understanding of the practical aspects of the spiritual path as traditional and modern teachers may lead us to. All teachings, contrary to the wishes and assumptions of many, do not say the same thing. They have their own arguments and perspectives on truth. When even realized sages disagree as to the ultimate, how much more may we require comparative study to grow from childhood and adolescence into a stable spiritual maturity? In addition, the study of the lives of saints and great men (Kirpal read three hundred such biographies as a youth) is always good, inspiring, and edifying, informing us of many twists and turns on the path - and much easier on the brain than philosophy.

   All of the above may be incorporated into our approach while still maintaining an attitude of simple faith and trust, like a child in the lap of the mother. The head and the heart are not water-tight compartments.

   Journalling and Self-Introspection: Cultivating Two Sides of Our Nature

   With this section we do not propose to alter the path, or give one more to do than he already may feel overwhelmed with doing (!), but just to highlight two different approaches to self-understanding that may prove helpful. While the diary, with its emphasis on the ego-self - observing and weeding out faults, improving character, and trying to be the best one can be - may help reveal the dark side of the old nature: suspicious, doubting (truth), withholding, assuming separation (through thought and belief) and acting separation (through action not in harmony with Reality), but also a positive side of true discrimination and cultivation of spiritual qualities like truthfulness, integrity, perseverence, etc., a free-form style diary/journal can be used as an exercise to help reveal the hidden bright side of the inner self, re-awakening our often buried childlike identity: innocent, expectant (of the Good), curious, enthusiastic, in peace and tranquility. Key thoughts to contemplate/affirm are: "you are loved and cherished forever"; "you have nothing to fear"; and "there is nothing you can do wrongly." These speak directly to a part of ourselves long hidden. Emphasizing only self-introspection may reinforce a negative way of looking at things, and attempts to justify the proper attitudes one should are often apologetics of an unskillful and rigid teaching. A proper balance is needed. It might be said that a journal is to a diary as 'compassion' is to 'awareness'. It is very difficult to live just trying to be be perfect.

   Even non-judgementally noticing our anger, for instance, is a more or less hard, dry row to hoe; adding a dose of compassion into the equation allows for a quiet acceptance of us and others just as we are. For while the head knows, the heart cares. Shall we go on trying to be perfect - when the greatest masters have said that only God is perfect - or might we spend at least an equal time 'loving ourselves to wholeness'? We harbor much anger, lust, attachment, and ego, no doubt, but merely saying we are wrong might not be as fruitful as loving and accepting. I know many will be afraid of this approach. Others will know how right it is. How many do not love themselves? "All I beg you to do is to perfect your love for yourself," said Sri Nisargadatta. Not the rotten self we condemn ourselves for being, but the child of God at the core. It is an attitude to cultivate, of course, not an excuse for indulgence. That is understood. We can feel our anger without acting on it or judging ourselves for it, for that only adds insult to injury. But being with it fully may allow the fear, sadness, or loneliness beneath it to surface for resolution and clearance. And then our innate compassion can be released. Similarly, when we feel lust, and cannot seem to avoid feeling it - i.e., if thinking of the Master or repeating simran just does succeed at sublimating it or 'making it go away' - we instead feel it fully, and the longing and great need beneath it becomes known to us. For it is hidden there. And likewise, rather than always struggling only to 'leave' the body, we let ourselves be grounded in it, thereby freeing ourselves from a primary source of reactivity that perpetuates suffering. This is a huge point, and one where one form of Buddhism can make a contribution to Sant Mat. Hakuin wrote, "This is the Lotus Land of Purity; this body, the Buddha." Sach Khand certainly exists in its own right, but it is also, in a very real sense, as far away as we make it to be.

   Such processing, by the way, may indeed go on for years; therefore, much patience with oneself is called for. This general theme is called in tantra, 'by what one falls one rises'. Not by acting out, but being with. It is one stage above just trying to do all the good and avoid all the bad; rather, here one works with the energies without judging. And when we fail, because we are just not capable of dealing with a certain level of pain, 'heat' or tapas, we simply pick ourselves up and keep going, without anxiety over our imperfections (as in 'who do you think you are, bud - God?'), praying for help as we keep moving ahead. "When you fall, fall forward," said Sawan Singh. Something more I have heard going around is, "the Master shakes up the hearts, and not all can take it; we may have to wait a lifetime to be worthy of His love." Initially that sounded beautiful to me, and the first part is no doubt true, but, 'to be worthy of His love'? The love which is supposed to be there always and already, even before we were born? Might it not be better if it were simply said, 'we might have to wait a lifetime to mature to the point where we can fully accept or feel His love'? But for people who on the whole feel deep down basically unworthy to be then told they must work hard to become worthy - what can one say? Isn't there enough of this going around?

   So, after this brief side track, back to the journal. What is a journal, besides any scribbling one can think of? While even that is totally all right, there is in fact a high purpose involved. A journal, first of all, like any other practice or discipline, is not something that must be 'filled out' or even noted in every day, or at a specific time. One of its primary purposes is for when glimpses of a truth, an important insight, feeling or memory may that hold potential meaning for us or for others. Then the exercise of writing it down serves as an inner conversation with a deep part of oneself that wants to express itself into the world, and that is also a connecting link with the higher nature. The important thing is the feeling and the intent, not the accuracy of expression. Such writing may take many forms. It is an active form of contemplation. It is not required, only suggested for consideration. As mentioned, many of the great ones of human history did the same, whether they called it a diary or a journal. And a journal is really what has been traditionally been thought of in general terms as a diary! We are constantly being gifted with little glimpses of truth, little clues that we gloss over as unimportant. Followed up closely, however, they may reveal many secrets needed on our path. This is not just 'talking to the mind'. Like a little child, we may simply call on the higher, or the inner, for guidance, and await a response. Or we may take notice during our day of something that speaks to our heart. Noticing the secret beauty in something or someone can take us past fear and judgement to the basic goodness at life's core. Or things our Master has written or said, to us or to a gathering that meant something directly to us. Or just questions we have and for which we desire answers. Here we include our own particular forms of self-and-world-inquiry. So we can write such moments down, in a phrase or two, to be remembered later. Not only us, but others need these 'clues' or inspirations, and so we write them down, anticipating their being passed on to others in time. We might write down a word or two, or a sentence or paragraph using symbol, analogy, metaphor, illustration or whatever serves to preserve the glimpse, the window to truth in that moment. Writing takes the glimpse or feeling out of the realm of thought and gives it a form. The journal is not shown to others, but may even some day turn into a story or a book. I waited thirty-five years to tell my own story, found in the biography section of this website. It is another way of viewing one's changing perspective and increased understanding over time. It is, once again, a more free-form version of a diary in which something other than the shadow side of oneself may reveal itself. And use it only if it feels beneficial, not out of a sense of obligation. Maybe as combined with or part of a diary. God knows there is enough for all of us to do today. Sant Kirpal once remarked on various traits of great men that had helped him in life, one of whom was John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, whose motto was, "write something daily." Some food for thought.

  "And just the moment
   when you are all confused
   leaps forth a voice;
   hold me close
   I'm love and
   I'm always yours."

       ~ Rumi

   Another, and not less important, use of a journal, as mentioned, is to serve as a form of self-inquiry. The latter is not limited to Maharshi's "Who am I?" exercise, but for the penetrating investigation of our beliefs, opinions, positions, and judgements. These, to a large extent, form what we call 'our world'. Not only the jnanis propose this, but even Sant Mat guru Jagat Singh said, "90% of spirituality is correct thinking." So we do a little 'Byron Katie' type of work, asking ourselves, objectively, about any issue or problem: First, "Is this a thought?"; "Is it true?"; "Do I know it is true?"; "How do I know it is true?" (i.e, what are my reasons for assuming so); and finally, "what would I be without this thought?" It may be found more effective, with less wiggle-room for self-justification, to right these down on paper. This tends to make our inquiry more objective. The list of questions we ask, and the reasons, observations, and (usually lame) excuses we put down as we inquire further, may be related to anything from mundane egoic reaction patterns to our most deeply held spiritual views. This in fact will cut quite close to the bone. The more we do this, however, the closer we get to the honest, fundamental truth of naked not-knowing. This 'negative technique' has in fact been the primary historical method at getting at truth: finding out what is not true, or what is not our true nature (neti, neti, "not this, not this" - stripping away the accretions or obstructions to truth, not so much going after it directly). Then what is truth stands revealed on its own. This method has huge implications and benefits for the truth-seeker. It does require a ruthless honesty, however, that is, a willingness for truth to be revealed, whatever the cost. Fred Davis writes:

   "Expecting a Higher Power to override our conscious unwillingness to seek truth, thus allowing us to side-step the uncomfortable work of self-discovery, is probably not going to work for us. While it apparently does happen, it occurs so rarely that it it's not even worth our addressing." (Beyond Recovery: Nonduality and the Twelve Steps, p. 133)

   On the subject of judgementalness

   Some additional things must be said. First, recognizing our failures presumes we always know what they are. And this makes us the judge and jury. What is a failure in 'chastity', for instance? Feeling desire for another? Looked at more closely, what is wrong with feeling desire - even for 'everyone'? Put into action, in the latter case, obviously a lot! But is feeling human desire 'wrong', and something one should feel at 'fault' for? Without desire there would be no creation, no life, no action, and no accomplishment. There is a Zen story about an old woman who supported a monk and wanted to test his realization. She sent an attractive maiden to embrace him, and then asked him what he felt. His response was "like a withered branch." Now, was that enlightenment? Would it had been wrong for him to feel desire? We suggest that if one gets overly concerned with this he will cut himself off from all life, all passion. Better to just be with the feelings of desire or need, without labelling them good or bad, get right down to their roots, and see how they transform themselves. Beneath strong craving is always need, and likely sorrow and fear. One can try to manipulate attention to bypass that experience, but a big part of one's wholeness and humanity will be lost. Rejecting the self that wants and needs will kill out our tenderness, too. And this - equating spiritual purity with the elimination of desire - would surely be a distortion of the Buddha's true message. Did the Buddha do battle with Mara, the Temptress? Did Christ fiercely resist Satan? Did Milarepa struggle with the demons? No, without aversion or attraction they met them with mindfulness and compassion. Accepting the wanting and needing self in this way, without views and opinions, helps release the old patterns. This requires trust, patience, and a certain commitment. But isn't it more promising than deluding ourselves that 'we' - as the 'old man', or the separate egoic identity - are getting better by keeping score of our failures, which, deep down, are largely habitual reflections of a deep wounding and incompleteness? Some will say, 'well, it is our fault due to karma of the past.' Perhaps, but who can know all of their karma? And karma is only one way of looking at it, that of judging ourselves as at 'fault' - faulty, unworthy, damaged goods, or 'broken'. Sooner or later one feels the necessity of releasing the inner resistance that continues to exert a strangle-hold on the heart. He passes through and beyond the feelings of, "I'll never get better," "No one will ever love me like this," or "Something is wrong with me." Grace no doubt is the deciding factor, for the deeper tendencies mightily resist change. One learns finally what it is to pray, for "true prayer begins when the heart feels like a stone, and prayer has become impossible", as said Thomas Merton. One forgives and accepts oneself without judgement, and surrenders his or her sovereignty over the whole problem.

   "What we've got here is a failure to communicate," the man said in Cool Hand Luke. Eastern teachers came over en masse to the West and were subject to major culture shock, in many areas. An example of this is the Dalai Lama being told by western teachers that self-hatred was a big problem among their students. His Holiness did not understand them. He had no concept of what self-hatred could be. And yet a 'deficiency' syndrome is rampant in the western psyche, and eastern spiritual paths built on discipline and a search for perfection have left a wake of casualties behind them. Students may doubt that they are meditating correctly, feel they are bad meditators, and mistrust if they are progressing spiritually. In Sant Mat they are told to meditate in an accurate way, as previously mentioned, and they will see progress from day to day. That this kind of progress has almost never been the case in the annals of spirituality somehow is forgotten. And in fact, many initiates may actually be meditating properly, but have not gotten sufficient freedom from the lower chakras of the body to make concentration at the ajna door directly possible. And so they engage the inevitable struggle to concentrate, with the extra added guilt that they are failures. In this regard they may be held back by unskillful teaching by their masters - forgive me for suggesting this - who also may not adequately explain the many ways one can in fact notice he is progressing over time: does he have more equanimity and effectiveness in his daily affairs, is he less reactive emotionally, less judgemental, less worried, more kind?

   A key question is, do we really have control over our thoughts, or are there multiple streams of conditioning that give rise to our thinking, desiring, reactive self? One can achieve apparent but not entire control over thoughts through a mantra, even 'doubling down' in times of distraction, but it is unlikely that the success will be lasting without the power of mindful attention burning through layers of conditioning and revealing the ever-present, tender heart beneath it all. There are two schools of thought on this issue. One is that we must simply create new thought habits to replace the old ones, without concern for where they come from, and this difficult process takes time but is the only way to progress. One other school argues that much of the thought stream is due to emotional reactivity that must sometimes be addressed at its own level and not only cognitively.

   Along these lines, what is 'wrong' with even, say, having fantasies? One could say that they prevent us from getting in touch with our actual experience, and the tender presence of the heart's true longing, and also only prolong the endless climb out of chronic thought patterns. Yes, that is so, and as such and in general they must be faced without repetitive indulgence and met with the light of awareness, or simply ignored to be 'made obsolete through non-use', or lack of attention - but does that make them 'wrong' or 'our fault'? Is such an attitude fruitful? Rather than judging one can try to feel the energy behind them, and let it reveal the more underlying feelings beneath the stories, which are generally profound depths of need. In the process one might also notice how in trying to maintain control the body tightens and the mind goes into self-condemnation and/or endless rationalization. Finally, then, we see the need to release all control and sense of responsibility in order to "surrender in the arms of love" - which may feel, prior to actually doing it, like a kind of death. But as it is said, "learn to die so that you shall begin to live." There are many ways to die in addition to the strictly yogic or mystical one.

   And, if we are to overlook the faults of others and see only their basic goodness, is it really possible if we do not take the same compassionate attitude towards ourselves? "Don't spare yourself," has been the most common traditional admonition, but we write as a counterbalance due to the simple fact that, as Westerners certainly, and longtime on the path, we have already had more than enough of that form of self-criticism.

   Are anger, fear, sorrow, depression, lusty thoughts, selfishness, our 'fault' and simply 'wrong'? One side says, "yes that is so, as everything is a result of our karma." Yet another questions, "or are they an invitation, through acceptance and compassionate, friendly attention, to free the energy beneath them, and awaken to our true nature as well?" For instance, take the example of emotional depression. Some argue it is our fault, either through a lack of will power or struggle, or simply because one has not 'got it' yet - i.e., 'got' that there is 'no separate self'. But this is a simplistic and rather uncompassionate view that only perpetuates the sense of separation, of unbelonging, that already feels very real. Beneath the depression may be anger, beneath that shame and hurt, and beneath that fear. Trying to avoid the pain of shame and fear through various strategies, including spiritual ones, builds walls that give the opposite result than is desired. If we feel shame or unworthiness at having what we are told are 'bad' thoughts - 'selfish', lustful, angry, needy, impatient, judgemental thoughts - that very sense of shame is itself a cover for even more intense feelings of being all alone and utterly worthless, as if facing annihilation. This is at the core of most people's feelings of deficiency, when they somehow have allowed themselves to get this vulnerable. And reaching this level is to begin a process of true healing and shedding of old identities. But if the entire process is thwarted by judging these thoughts as 'negative' and implying that one is 'wrong' or 'faulty', then the limit of awakening to your true nature is already drawn in the sand - the loving, open, accepting awareness that is also your true home. Thus, fear of the results of the 'sin of Adam and Eve' is reinforced by a fear that the world is not a friendly place and that something bad will happen if one relaxes control over his upward striving struggle to perfect himself. Further, what do we know of Adam and Eve? Did we sin, or have we just been born? Did we as man 'fall', or were we sent here by God - or are we simply evolving? Many Masters, including Master Kirpal, expressed one or the other of each of these positions - a 'fall', and 'evolution' - from time to time. Were they then purposely being inconsistent? No, rather, Masters know that at the higher levels of explanation what they are saying is not completely true, it can't be given the nature of truth, but only story, an approximation of how it appears to be, and advise specific to a particular individual, to his needs at the time, and to be supplanted by a higher understanding in due course. The Masters are well aware of this, but know that the Grace will work anyway. But one can see that assuming different perspectives also produces different attitudes to the problem at hand, with perhaps different results.

   Sant Mat in general needs to offer a method of dealing with such emotional turmoil, especially in westerners. Thinking of the Master and/or meditating, in the beginning stages of the sacred relationship, often works well, if one is so blessed; but it also may be found, as a complete technique, to temporarily cover one's distress, and only in rare cases be fully successful all of the time. Why? Because the light of awareness must be brought to bear on one's direct, immediate experience to effect lasting change. There must be true self-knowledge and self-acceptance. And, as Carl Rogers said:

   "The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change."

   There is a misconception that to accept oneself or one's situation means resignation, a lack of motivation to change or act, or an acquiesence to forms of self-indulgence. But the miracle of self-acceptance is that it frees one up to appropriate, healthy responses and actions. To condemn oneself because he is 'not loving enough', 'selfish' (having desires), impatient, insecure, craves eggs or cigarrettes, is too emotional, jealous, or angry, or - this is always a good one for seekers - 'too caught up on ego', etc, etc., etc., is to seriously miss the boat. With a constant monitor and critic like this, who needs Dharam Raj?! Our negative traits are fuel for enlightenment, and can only be loved into wholeness, not forcefully wiped out. Therefore, the advice to 'weed them out' has a great significance when understood in this light. It is not a work of a few months - and not a work at all in the sense of great effort. Only a committed, intimate friendly attention to them will transform their essence into spiritual energy to fuel our unfoldment. We don't really weed them out - the light or the Master Power is what purifies. And here we mean essentially the light of consciousness that you are, not just the astral light one sees.

   A comparative look at judgement and the body in different paths

   Once again, how can one ever consent to feeling the sensations in the body that lie beneath the conditioned thought stream, thus revealing the roots of suffering and reactivity, if one's sadhana is only about leaving the body? This is really, potentially at least, a great divide between paths like Sant Mat and Buddhism. We say potentially because Sant Mat may be approached in an extreme way, as also may Buddhism. But both may perhaps meet in the middle. We will try to explain this a bit better.

   Buddha is purported to have taught:

   "There is one thing that, when cultivated and regularly practiced, leads to deep spiritual intention, to peace, to mindfulness and clear comprehension, to vision and knowledge, to happy life here and now, and to the culmination of wisdom and awakening. And what is that one thing? it is mindfulness centered on the body." (Satipatthana Sutta)

   This is not all of the Buddhist path (in this case original Buddhism, the theravada or vipassana school), but the first stage of mindfulness, but it is a key to the integral nature of full realization. How is it possible to practice 'mindfulness of the body', a foundational admonition of the Buddha, if one is trying to essentially to forget the body and fly out of this life? How to get in touch with fear, need, sorrow, and anger, and redeem them into the light, if we deal with deep anxiety and powerlessness essentially by numbing them out, and even measuring our success by how well we do so? For instance, mindfulness of the body would address suffering in this way. Whether one sees himself 'a discrete entity' (ego), or 'a vast empty space with intelligence that is conscious of itself' - which is not always accessible while there is suffering - one can try being mindful of the body and its sensations. One notices the tendency  for aversion or dissociation, anything to not feel what one is feeling. He also may notice the mind's tendency to generate constant stories to justify or explain or otherwise make the uncomfortable sensations go away. Finally, he does nothing, except maybe to 'lean into' the sensations to experience them directly. He finds that they eventually change, arise and pass away, as likewise do his thoughts. This is a simple practice, which some Buddhist masters have followed all the way to enlightenment. It is not creating or assuming a 'self', or a 'separate self', or worrying about it one way or the other, nor is it trying to see that there is NOT a self - only an attentiveness to the sensations that appear to constitute the suffering, which usually start in the body. This is addressing the suffering in terms of the sensations that it seems to consist of. Nor is it an effort to try to find out where the sensations came from, only attending or noticing  them without attachment or aversion. Spontaneous insight and knowledge will come out of this. Thus the intent is not trying to find out whether or not there is a sufferer, but only to know and reach the end of suffering itself. And it tackles it where primary roots of reactivity lie - in the body, and not by intellectual grappling, or an attempt at gaining insight from the neck up, based on preconceptions of what should or should not be. Of course, like all things, this may or may not work. Especially with a history of severe trauma, other aids may need to be employed. But this can be powerful. And it is so different, isn't it, than the inversion method of a path like Sant Mat? How can one make sense out of the recommendation to 'inhabit' the body fully, in order to process its karma, its reactivity, one's recoil from life, if one is only trying to get out of it? Seems impossible, doesn't it? Yet that is exactly what many current paths, both psychological and spiritual, are suggesting - that in fact many of us have never truly been born fully, but are in more or less hypnotic states of dissociation. Vipassana master S.N. Goenka, in this regard, tells us not to just pay attention to passing thoughts, because if we do, "deep inside, a part of the mind keeps on reacting. Because with the thought, there's also sensation. You must not miss this root." Teacher Tara Brach, in Radical Acceptance, says that "all of us to some degree disconnect from our bodies, but when we live bound in fear of perceived ever-present danger, finding our way back can be a long and delicate process." (p. 108) So this issue is a real koan for the yogi, who conceives of his liberation in only one direction.

   What good would it had done me, after getting home from India in 1973, basically an anchorite for four years whose mind had been blown but whose body was bottled up with craving in its very cells for human contact, if, instead of pursuing women with full desire, I had dutifully written down every day 'failures' in chastity? It would have been a disaster (!), a refusal of the grace I had been shown, and a refusal of getting back into life on a firm footing of balanced energy and love. I was forced to incarnate, through trial and error. It was entirely positive, but the mind through its former programming, was tempted to label it as negative. With balanced teaching this would have been unnecessary.

   Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck wrote that the secret of spiritual life lies in the capacity to:

   "return to that which we have spent a lifetime hiding from, to rest in the bodily experience of the present moment - even if it is a feeling of being humiliated, of failing, of abandonment, of unfairness."

   And this capacity rests in non-aversion to bodily life, aversion and attraction both being considered fetters to enlightenment. A real question to ask is: is the designation of Sat Mat as a 'positive mysticism' enough to deeply incorporate this 'secret', or is it still interpreted as merely handling one's daily affairs with responsibility, not like an ash-smeared ascetic with matted hair, but still with an utmost detachment and with the goal being ascent out of the entire situation? Now, this may be seen as an unfair comparison of two very different paths, but neither is actually or necessarily confined to this analysis. In other words, there is much more to vipassana as well as Sant Mat. The latter need not be seen as a dissociative path, nor the former only concerned with realization of enlightenment in the body.

   The Buddha, for instance, talked about Four Foundations of Mindfulness, not just one. It was his version of talking about 'planes' or 'bodies' in the practical context of doing vipassana, and with regard to ways one can focus attention. In essence, he said that the ideal state of awareness in vipassana is 'non-selective', momentary concentration that meets each aspect or object of consciousness as it arises, without judgment, without holding onto or avoiding anything that arises in the field of awareness, and without using anything as a focus, especially one that is concentrated on to such an extent as to cause one to be less aware of other aspects of experience. It is pure, choiceless, no-manipulative, equanimous, uniformly present awareness. So when one achieves this state, one moment one is aware of a sensation, the next a thought, then another sensation, then an intuition, then an emotion, then a psychic impression - all tumbling by in a natural flow, not preferring any type of level more than another. Naturally, as this state deepens it blossoms into nondual realization. No need to contemplate 'nondualism' or philosophize about it. It just arises as one state of balanced presence matures.

   But he also recognized that this state must usually be achieved in stages. One aspect of what is inaccessible to most people about this state is that it is pretty much impossible for most of us to be uniformly aware of all levels of experience with strong momentary concentration (the type that greets each arising object with concentrated awareness, but also lets it pass on its own, like the contents of a stream flowing by), at first. First we need basic concentration cultivated on a particular focus, then we can translate that into the practice of momentary concentration, but at first this 'vipassana' style awareness will be easier to cultivate in a more expanded field than just the breath or a mantra or whatever was used to establish basic concentration, but not the total field, because that is harder to do at this stage.

   So the Buddha introduced the idea of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as a way to talk about (a) the four main areas of experience that one should eventually include in one's global field of awareness, and (b) to provide a framework for choosing where to start. This later idea being that it is best to first practice mindfulness with a primary focus in one of these four foundations, rather than all four at once.

   Instead of using the Four Foundations, an idea similar to this in Sant Mat could be said to be the four bodies:

   (1) physical - which means being mindful of sensations
   (2) astral - being mindful of emotions and desires
   (3) mental - being mindful of thoughts, concepts, inner dialogue ('self-talk')
   (4) intuitions - pure awareness of awareness, presence, equanimity, peace, other virtues, the pure elements, etc..

   The Four Foundations are similar but not identical to these. The point is, the Buddha said that in the practice of vipassana, one should begin by picking one of these, typically the realm of sensations as that is very accessible, and start with the breath, get concentrated, then practice uniform presence to all sensations, not only touch, but sights, smells, etc.. Then when this is stronger, one would gradually become more present to aspects like thoughts, memories, emotions, intuitions and so on.

   He said that actually you can start with any of these four levels, and then expand out from these to include the others eventually. So, for instance, if you are gazing for light as in Sant Mat, this is close to vipassana in the sense that there is no attempt to control what is seen, and it is a valid 'foundation of mindfulness', as long as one does not apply effort to ignore other phenomena. At that point it leans more towards a samadhi practice and less toward vipassana. But it is not a black and white thing. Even if we lean towards samadhi, if it is only 65% and not 95%, then wisdom will develop, mindfulness will grow, and the effects of the practice will gradually expand naturally to include the other foundations. Here is the important point of this discussion: If, as often in Sant Mat, the leaning towards inversion is rather strong, the rate at which it integrates will be slowed. But it still functions to build the state of presence internally, and then this will slowly integrate into increased mindfulness in our daily life too. Just not as efficiently. If we do an inversion practice and also combine it with an aversion to the physical world, and a tendency towards escapism, then not only will it not integrate very well, but it can even reinforce a lack of integration. It can make things worse. To attempt to offset this, Darshan Singh used the phrase 'positive mysticism', and teachers in that lineage taught and embodied the path of integrating inversion meditation with embracing a world-engaged lifestyle and service. However, often this was expressed only in terms of 'settling karmic debts', and not a true integration as in some of the nondual paths. So we would not categorize Sant Mat as at the extreme opposite of the spectrum from Theravada Buddhism, but it is certainly on a very different part of the spectrum. But they do have some overlap, and are not totally opposite.

   And, if a more Buddhist style practitioner wants to 'Buddhasize' inner light and sound practice, it not only can be done, but it is powerful. For instance, one can work with experiencing the nada or shabd as spread out throughout the whole body, not solely at the 'eye focus'. If one looks up into the ajna, and emphasizes selective/exclusive concentration, then it is more like to 'pull' upward (which is mostly the meditator's attitude) rather than integrate into physical consciousness and energy. But it can be worked with in various ways. In Dzogchen they awaken inner luminosity, integrate it with the state of nondual presence, and then use it to take the rainbow body. Same can conceivably be done with shabd, although we are now getting beyond the scope of this article. Doing a spiritual practice is like combining a bunch of elements to make a meal. Various ingredients can be combined in various ways and give different results. One needs to learn about 'spiritual chemistry' to be most skillful at this business. Most paths and practitioners think that the ways they are familiar with are the only ways to work with the various ingredients that they know about. It is, as always, more complex than that. But there is an underlying science, as yet little understood on our planet, that will illuminate all this. Such a path does not exist yet here, on this plane of this planet, but some paths are closer than others.

   We have not the intention here to argue Buddhism versus Sant Mat (indeed, especially while teachers within all of the Buddhist schools as well as Sant Mat often argue among themselves as to the best way to enlightenment!), only to make a point about the need to honor the body and bodily life to achieve an integral nondual realization. We have already shown in Part Two, in a discussion of the jhanas and samadhis, the great and many benefits of inward concentration. Here we make the complementary argument in favor of the practice of mindfulness as necessary for the development of wisdom and the ability to actually live a liberated life in the world. With the moment to moment practice awareness in everyday life one can engage in the absorptive meditation with less tendency towards being lost in spiritual ambition or frustration. Yes, a certain amount of wisdom will come from yogic inversion samadhis, or the concentrative jhanas - when not attained solely by technique - but not necessarily fully, insofar as one's focus while meditating is a narrow one, conferring other benefits, while wisdom is a product of comparative experience with an open mind or global attention. If the fruits of concentration and samadhi are used to further the development of insight, so much the better. Furthermore, in Sant Mat much wisdom may be passively infused by grace, which represents a third, esoteric avenue of growth, unique to this path where a special link is made with the Master-Power. This may in fact occur when all other routes have been blocked for the disciple, when he has been rendered more or less powerless, tied hands and feet as it were, and this also by grace. Thus, there is a 'bhakti equivalent' to Buddhist mindfulness, which is faith and trust, often when all else is rendered impossible. What we are referring to is essentially a 'secret' path.

   Hopefully this discussion does not make matters more complicated for the reader than he feels already! The point is that theoretically and ideally one may practice in such a manner and with such an understanding that he will not stagnate in his growth when certain areas cry out to be addressed, but for which the teaching may not provide a direct means to deal with. Kirpal would sometimes implore us, "how long will you keep this pain within you?" What pain was he speaking about? Ultimately the core, central pain of the human condition, i.e., feeling oneself separate, cut-off, not belonging, but also overlayed with accumulated wounds from birth and childhood. The problem is that very often one does not even realize the hidden pain he carries, and inverted concentrative meditation alone will not bring this out, but can even bury it further. So either the guru or God is faced with the unpleasant task of 'lancing this boil', through various spiritual means, or one tries for years to improve oneself with less than satisfactory results. Or one may experience only clear sailing, in which case this consideration is not needed; we merely attempt to provide for a deficiency as may historically exist in the teachings, keeping a diverse majority of practitioners in mind.

   The sequence of self-condemnation, for example, is as follows: we feel bad and tell ourselves that therefore we must be bad, and try to be good to avoid feeling bad, when within it lies our salvation! Rather than seeing suffering as a gateway to compassion, we re-double our self-denying efforts to 'feel better'. We in fact try spiritually to 'die' in order to avoid the actual existential death that is facing us in every moment! In this respect a 'negative' emotion like anger is 'bad' notably because it hurts others, but because it removes us from feeling old hurt and shame, which in turn is a learned response to primal fear. These cannot truly be repressed, sublimated or escaped, but must be experienced and transformed.

   The orthodox Church Elders may be extreme, but not entirely wrong, in their own context, when they advise monks to hold their anger until 'smoke comes out of their ears' (!); for most of us feeling anger is not wrong or bad in itself. Projecting it outwards or inwards, however, is generally self-defeating, because it has a historical logic that served a purpose in its own time which must now be revealed, which is difficult to do when it is merely dramatized. Observe it, feel it, be it, and let it reveal what it is made of. Then it will release, sooner or later, usually gradually as self-understanding is gained. One is not to be concerned with its release, for that will increase its strength; just observe with awareness and compassion. If one feels no capacity for compassion, then have the intent for compassion. In calmer moments try to see oneself through the eyes of one's teacher, who is certainly non-judgemental and compassionate. Or perhaps, see oneself through the eyes of a loving grandparent, who appreciated your youthful curiosity and exhuberance. Especially in those moments when one may face grief or loneliness that seems unending, as deep emotions often feel. Hafiz said:

   "Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
   Let it cut more deep.
   Let it ferment and season you
   As few human or even divine ingredients can."

   Yet, only to notice the passions is not enough to change or eradicate them; this is an error of 'awareness' paths. Grace must be invoked and intervene, for only it has the ultimate transforming power. Only it is connected with the heart and the Soul and knows what the Soul needs and wants. Do we really know when anger, fear, impatience, boredom, or desire are wrong? Let's be frank: what is inherently wrong with desire, per se? Yes, the Buddha and most traditional paths advise, 'be desireless'. But is this even possible? The Buddhist and monastic solution was to abandon life,or to reach a state where life was only minimally intrusive. But to be born is to have a desire for life. Life desires life. We would be dead and non-human without desire. And of course, without desire for God one would never realize God. That is a desire of the Soul, and not just false identification of a contracted ego as many paths teach. Now, it may be desireable to want something higher than to be totally at the mercy of so-called lower desires, yes; but even here one runs close to siding with the denial of human nature itself, so discernment is needed.

   Alan Watts spoke of "The Wisdom of Insecurity." When there appears no well-tracked out path before us, we have no choice but to surrender to the Guide who has apparently retreated to take up a position behind instead of in front of us. We may then feel as if we are to fall into an abyss. This is inevitable at some point. One needs to know, therefore, that it is possible to technically fulfill each and every one of the diary requirements and still not achieve self-knowledge or self-acceptance. There needs be no regrets over this, or over whatever one may have done or not done. Confusion may reign. This is really a most hopeful sign. The ego is starting to rot. Indeed, de Caussade wrote:

   "It is indeed a great secret, for by this way and by this way only are pure faith and pure hope established in the soul...Everything one does seems the fruit of chance and natural inclination. Everything that happens humiliates the soul...Others are always admired, but we feel miles below them and put to confusion by their every action....The divine action seems to keep us far from virtue only to plunge the soul into a profound humility. But this humility does not seem to be such to the soul, it thinks it is suffering from the rigours of pure justice."

   "The most remarkable thing about this is that in the eyes of those whom God does not enlighten concerning its path, the soul seems animated by quite contrary feelings such as obstinacy, disobedience, contempt and indignation that cannot be cured, and the more the soul tries to reform these disorders, the worse they become, for they are the most proper means to detach it from itself and fit it for divine union. From this painful trial comes the principal merit of self-abandonment. In the duty of the present moment everything is of a nature to draw the soul away from its path of love and simple obedience. It needs heroic courage and love to stand firm in its simple, active fidelity and sing its part with assurance, while grace sings its own with different melodies and in different keys which do nothing but convince the soul that it is deceived and lost."

   How is it possible for one to make sense of the specified diary at this juncture?! At such a time there remains only the saying of "yes" - "fiat!" - to all of one's life. This is really key. Saying "yes" to all things - events, thoughts, desires, body, mind, impulses, feelings, people - is not mere 'positive thinking', nor is it to approve of everything; rather, it is to accept them with mindfulness and compassion, allowing them to arise and pass away. Saying "yes" is to invite Kal to tea, surrendering unconditionally all resistance: the resistance of a self that doesn't want to die, and even pursues a path of death in an attempt to avoid death! This includes saying "yes" even to "no", when such acceptance is impossible or too much to ask of oneself at the time. One accepts - and forgives - himself 'seventy times seven'. But how? One way is to visualize oneself - or another - as if he were an infant or child, or as someone whom one will never see again. That may soften the heart. There are myriad ways. The important thing is the intent to forgive, to accept, to be compassionate, for 'God hears the unspoken prayer'.

   It might be very useful to include a daily or intermittent 'self-judging' scan as part of a diary exercise. And then offer oneself the same unconditional kindness or friendliness that he would offer to another. This way one will be doing something to affirm his or her inherent goodness, which no imperfection or fault can ever taint. Contemporary teacher Bapuji writes:

   "My beloved child.
   Break your heart no longer.
   Each time you judge yourself you break your own heart.
   You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.
   The time has come, your time."

   Self-judgement falls when one recognizes the depths of suffering in samsara. To recognize these depths it is necessary not to run from suffering. Then the re-connection with the heart is made. Hafiz continues:

   "Something missing in my heart tonight.
   Has made my eyes so soft,
   My voice so tender,
   My need for God Absolutely Clear."

   We make the prayer of intention and longing to be tender and kind to all - especially oneself - until compassion awakens of itself. Hafiz concludes:

   "Ask the Friend for love.
   Ask him again.
   For I have learned that every heart will get
   What it prays for Most."

   Saints such as Jaimal and Kirpal Singh were not merely being poetic when they exclaimed that they did not care if they ever reached Sach Khand, but only wanted love and devotion at the Guru's holy feet. Similarly, there really is a stage where a person is no longer concerned with his own 'progress'! For, how else could one ever know 'selflessness'?

   It is really essential that one come to the position of having no fixed views and opinions - period. Teachers, too, must encourage this disposition.

   "Day and night I guarded the pearl of my soul.
   Now in this ocean of pearling currents, I've lost track of which was mine."

   Here is another thought on the issue of judgement. By now hopefully the reader may get a sense that the Masters are faced with a hard task in proscribing a discipline for everyone at every stage. It is thus no wonder that their advise may seem confusing and even contradictory at times. And this is why we suggested, without intending to make it seem like one has only more things to do than he may already feel burdened with, that study, contemplation, and perhaps something like journalling may be of use. So take from all this whatever suits you. Sant Kirpal once said:

   "Keeping the diary means: if you criticize yourself as you criticize others you will become a saint." (17)

   This essentially is saying 'criticize yourself, but stop criticizing others.' Also, 'criticize yourself for criticizing others'. Yet, there is another option that may be worth pondering: what if you stop criticizing, judging, and condemning others, as well as yourself? What will you then become? - no-thing? or a sage?

   It may be one comes to the latter stage only after spending some time in the former one, but sooner or later it must come.

   "Judge not and ye shall not also be judged; condemn not and ye shall not be condemned."

   Who will then condemn us? The Master (certainly no); Dharam Raj (he barely enters the picture!); ourselves (now THAT may be the big question). What if we stop fault-finding and judgement, worry and concern for our personal affairs, and also plans and calculations for inner peace and spiritual growth? This is not to dismiss or deny the metanoia previously recognized earlier in this essay, or the role of apparent self-effort, but only to highlight a further stage where one finally dares to sacrifice the separate ego that is trying desperately to succeed. It is recognized that such an apparent 'leap of faith' is generally achieved in stages; nevertheless, once the need is recognized, it is a disposition that transcends stages and trumps fear. This advise is to the many who have done way too much self-condemning and self-judging already. It is quite a feat to pull out of that quagmire. One has to face the fear of being wrong - the very thing that self-judging keeps in place. Most seekers have been way to critical and calculating of their every move. It may be necessary in the beginning, but sooner or later a leap of faith must happen or we will end up afraid of our own shadow and never knowing or being our true nature.

   Bottom line, there comes a time when methods suitable for a beginner are naturally put aside as a more intuitive approach begins to flower. No one can tell a person when that time has come. For an excellent summary of this, in terms of what he calls "Long" and "Short" paths, click here for Category 23, chapters 1-5 of The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, in which distinctions between these two stages are detailed. This material is highly recommended and is extremely relevant to the topic at hand.

   It comes down, then, to a matter of stages of practice and development, and what actually continues to serve one. This is not always clear, and at times some self-trust and experimentation is in order, for how else is one to come to a true spiritual independence, i.e., one's own Atma? Brunton points to the paradox:

   "The Long Path is likely to come first in a man's spiritual career, with the bizarre results that he is required to become much more aware of what is going on within him - his thoughts, feelings and character - and then, with entry on the Short Path, to become much less aware of it, even to the point of ignoring it."

   It is not often easy, and in fact requires courage, to desert what has been a mode of operation for so long, even when it no longer serves one as it initially did. That is, moving from an emphasis on denigration of character to one of acceptance of self, from a personal feeling of urgency to one of faithful trust, is a major shift; may it not be why Kirpal said that "only rarely does even a blessed soul acquire this attitude" ? The truth is that there is no contradiction, that both approaches are complementary and balancing. Paradox is a truth of the path. Most people try the hard way in the beginning and then both simultaneously for a time, before falling helplessly into surrender. There is a gradual transition.


   Cultic Speech, Behavior, and Mind-Set: An Essential Consideration for All Spiritual Organizations

   This is a bold title, but by way of a preliminary, it is suggested that any spiritual organization might consider instituting an introductory course in cultic mind-set and behavior if it is to be conducive to a spirit of tolerance between other schools and itself. So often things are repeatedly uttered that come not from a person's direct experience, but from an ingrained belief system. "Our master is Perfect" (how do you know?), or "our path is the highest" (again, from where comes this knowledge - do you fully understand the other path such that you can say that?). It may be true, and at some point the observant and sincere disciple will be graced to see in many ways how their Master is in fact all that they hope that He is and more. But we should not go around saying such high things if we have not realized them for ourselves, and even then in a circumspect manner. I saw a video on Eastern religious movements by a Christian evangelical movement some years back. In one scene I was surprised to see Master Darshan Singh walking around for a few minutes. The film crew zoomed in on a man who looked like one in charge, and he said into the camera, "I don't know what you people realize, but you've just seen God." That kind of thing gives me an uneasy feeling. While it is true that beholding a realized Master in his full inner glory may be as close as a person gets to seeing God, the person who made that statement didn't know that, and we should only speak of what we know, when appropriate. This situation, fortunately, is not entirely inevitable. The recommendation for the above-mentioned study would help in this direction. And while being an example of a rather simplistic cult, far removed from a path such as Sant Mat, the movie Ticket to Heaven is interesting viewing for the long-time member of any spiritual group, in light of the psychology it portrays.

   Try as one may, he cannot ignore the simple fact that many silly things are often repeated, and which the path would do just fine, and much better, without. Many different traditions face this problem, whereby some adept wrote or said something at one point which became incorporated in the doctrine and then gets, with all good intentions, repeated forever as if it were the eternal truth. Even when the Masters, deep within their being and higher understanding, know some parts of the teaching are not really or entirely true, but have not yet articulated or re-articulated the teaching in keeping with the times. One safeguard of the student is a mature appreciation of what the guru is, his function, and the nature of a mature relationship between student and teacher. Sant Mat is not immune to the charge of cultism that affects almost all large groups. In some cases the teacher plays into this weakness, not from bad intentions, but out of catering to unreasonable expectations of disciples, which unfortunately have accompanied the path for scores of years. A true Guru-disciple relationship, when authentic and established, can be a beautiful thing, but, prior to its maturity, childish, fawning adulation of and attention to a Master, working one into a self-hypnotic state of awe, runs a fine line between being perhaps somewhat inevitable and excusable, and being unnecessary, ingenuine, and having little to do with truth. We simply must be ourselves, be honest, and recognize what we know and what we do not know. A proper attitude towards the Master is one of respect and reverence.

   The same goes for placing a guru on a pedestal of ultimate authority by abandoning full self-responsibility for one's reactions, beliefs and understanding, a set-up for a fall into disappointment and disillusionment. Have basic respect, and prove the teachings for yourself. And there is no way one can do this in a few short weeks or months before he is initiated, as mentioned above, for a number of reasons, the key one being that one is immature, and must be seasoned, with his intelligence developed over much time. This is where contemplation of truth and broad study comes into play. While doubts not the outcome of a proper investigation are unhealthy, doubts that arise in the course of such an investigation are healthy, arising to be cleared and lead to further knowledge.

   We suggest, speak not what you think you are supposed to say, but what is your own truth - whatever it is. Cultivate an open mind. Learn to communicate with your true self within, and then express it outwardly. Demand truth, from yourself and the Teacher, and it shall be forthcoming. Yes, we are trying to say, gingerly, that the path must adapt to an emerging current of spirituality. Some one must say this openly. Many are already doing so in private. Is this not so? A few more salient points.

   Anyone reading a book, or studying a spiritual or philosophical teaching, should question it fully and then put it to the test in their life. This is not a 'one-shot' affair, but an ongoing clarifying of one's consciousness as new insights, points of view, and perspectives arise in due course. This may seem a simple matter, but the truth is that many try to make their life and being fit into a structured teaching, and interpret any new understanding in the pre-fabricated mold of expectancy created by that teaching. This is really a denial of the divine in you. And the plain fact is that one is not mature enough or intelligent enough, to anticipate all of the questions and doubts that may appear as one goes on in his life of practice or development. Major shifts and accompanying questions. A teaching must be big enough to embrace and welcome these, as should the teacher or Guru.

   Keeping in mind all the above, the following often-repeated statements (in italics) might well be contemplated from the perspective of the three levels of self-understanding according to Dzogchen as mentioned by Norbu at the beginning of this section.

   "Spirituality is a Science."

   Is this true? The great mystics, Eastern and Western, have always said it is, but let us consider how and in what manner it is so. The way this is received may depend on one's perspective. We are not saying that it is wrong to say this, but it is important to try to make clear what it does mean, because many may misunderstand and get disappointed otherwise. As suggested, this metaphor has been used by mystics, such as of the Orthodox Christian tradition, for centuries. As in empirical science, where one makes observations and experiments that repeatedly prove its axioms, here, too, one makes experiments which have been duplicated and verified by other mystics time and again. One also tries many things and finds out what works and is true. Not necessarily in every moment, but over time. And also not merely in terms of getting inner experiences, but, more importantly, in the basic transformation of the person. Which includes the healing of his estrangement and opposition to the Divine. This, in fact, is why the Orthodox Church defines spirituality as not philosophy or religion, but as really closer to medicine. And the gurus of India often speak of their disciples being in a 'hospital' (at least, mine did, and Ramakrishna and others have also). So inasmuch as medicine is a science, so is spirituality a science. The problem comes when one assumes, based on what he may have been told, that this is a linear 'cookie-cutter' process,and when one expects proof to suit ones preconceptions. There are many moments of confirmation, and there are, in truth (which is a spiritual axiom or article of faith) no accidents, no miracles, no mistakes, but rather a gradual, natural unfoldment. However, the variables are as unlimited as the number of individuals pursuing the result. Moreover, there is increasingly a strong component of 'not-knowing' as one progresses deeper into the heart of the Mystery. The path is as wonderful as it is terrible at times. The uncertainty principle is alive and well in the land of effort and grace as much as it is in quantum physics. The end-result is clear, but the exact timing is not. Nor are even the intervening stages. So let us discuss a few points to broaden the appreciation of this 'science'.

   In a science, ideally (when the enertia of ignorance or the incentive for economic advantage is not there), there is a constant adjustment to new knowledge and wisdom. Important questions are welcomed and pursued in a spirit of free inquiry, and not dismissed or discouraged as an 'illusion' or distraction of the mind. Carl Sagan wrote:

   "Science is generated by and devoted to free inquiry: the idea that any hypothesis, no matter how strange, deserves to be considered on its merits. The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge; it has no place in the endeavor of science." (18)

   J. Robert Oppenheimer said:

   “There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors."

   PB similarly wrote:

   "A school should exist not only to teach but also to investigate, not to formulate prematurely a finalized system but to remain creative, to go on testing theories by applying them and validating ideas by experience." (18a)

   Thomas Kuhn, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, said that

   “The price of significant scientific advance is a commitment that runs the risk of being wrong.” (p. 101)

   Another has described science as consisting of ”unbiased observations and systematic experimentation." It has been said that in all of nature the fields that are plowed and fenced are fertile only for a brief time - without new enrichment. This may well pertain to spiritual dharmas as well.The essential verities may be everlasting, but the expressions and practical considerations undergo change in line with the parallel mental evolution of humanity. Masters will make room to adapt their teachings for the variations among their students’ understanding and levels of development.

   On the seeker's side, he generally wants a set of rules to follow that lead to illumination, but is this not, in a sense, a confession that God is not God, Reality is not real, the Absolute is not absolute, the Infinite is not infinite, with infinite possibilities, universal, free and unbound? Are we separate from the Truth? Certainly, one may not realize that yet, but is there a standardized 'scientific' way to assure one the result of a successful climb? We, unlike some, grant that there is a climb, even while the mountain is only apparent - the climb is perhaps more aptly described as an unfoldment of Truth than a climb - but is there a guaranteed road to travel by, with every step marked out ahead in advance? Sant Mat sometimes appears to teach there is, that all the planes are objective and experienced the same way by all seekers, but is this true? If in truth, ultimately you are the path, or not separate from the path, and not merely the one walking it, is there an objective 'science' in all that? This is possibly a potential misconception, sometimes conveyed with good intentions, no doubt, by teachers of Sant Mat, whether marketed as Science of the Soul, or Science of Spirituality. It is not wrong. But we may have to take a 'quantum' view of science to make it fit. Or at least one of experimentation with many apparent failures until one succeeds or discovers a new or deeper aspect of truth. Yes, there are well-delineated meditation stages, more or less, and yes, the grace of the Master makes up for much of the difficulties and unpredictability of forward progress on the path. But in the 'quantum' view, for instance, there is not only the relative unpredictability of its results (i.e., the goal has been said by some to be fixed, but the time frame is not), but also the need to consider the influence of the participant, i.e., the experiencer, or consciousness, in the 'experiment'. This makes for infinite variety of sequential results. And as one loses himself (that is, his fixed ego identity) by degrees the more he finds the true Self, the paradoxes of progress is inevitable. Can one really speak of 'my attainment' in the so-called higher stages? Further, even given an initial experience of opening of the 'third eye' - which is not universally the case, or even promised, in every branch of Sant Mat (18b) - there are many twists and turns, ups and downs, and karmic viccisitudes along the way through which the student must wade with much patience and endurance. This is not always made clear to the novitiate, up front. Perhaps it can't be. [As we have seen earlier, however, in quotations from Sant Darshan Singh, it is not as if it is entirely hidden from the serious student either].

   A not often appreciated point of fact in Sant Mat is that, as Sawan Singh said

   " after due initiation, the redemption of the devotee is assured. No failure or back sliding is possible. He is first put through a course of experiences which enables him to realize his own helplessness. When he realizes this he will also feel the assurance of salvation."

   That is to say, the process of eradicating or winding up his karmas has begun. And this can be a very unpredictable and bewildering process, where the disciple may in fact have a hard time appreciating the notion of the path as a "science" with verifiable results! But this is only due to his limited understanding of what constitutes real progress. Soamiji shouts:

   "O Guru! Now shower Your grace and vouchsafe Your help and succor to me. I am afflicted with physical ailments and mental agonies. I have been through terrible suffering. I am Now utterly helpless. All my efforts have failed."

   One may well ask, where in all this does a poor disciple find himself? Especially if there may also be years when mostly the dark side of his unpurified character comes up for release. If one is then enchained to the diary in a certain way, for instance, he may suffer thinking that something is wrong, when in fact it may be very right. This is a situation, therefore, where some study and understanding may be critical for survival.

   There is one particular exception to this depiction of a rather circumscribed scope of what a 'science' may be. For the use of this term is not a new one. In the annals of mysticism there is mention of a 'pure science', or an 'upper school', for those who are passing or who have passed beyond a linear conception of the path into that of a 'predictable unpredictability': i.e., the dimension of the soul, and not that of the finite human ego with its ambitious hopes and dreams, and a set of rules and procedures promising to lead it to its Perfection. Without proper understanding - and unfortunately or not, for many, even with such understanding - a 'dark night' period my be needed to intervene to produce the required recognition and surrender. So perhaps we must not fault the path so much as request a more complete explanation, where possible, of its actual processes. And the 'uncertainty' within such an experimental subjective science is, in fact, rectified by the ultimate certainty of the factor of grace.

   Michael Molinos, who wrote The Spiritual Guide in 1675, said:

   "But there is also a science of the saints. This science is known only to those who heartily love and who seek the end of their self-nature."

   deCaussade also spoke of a science:

   “The doctrine concerning pure love can only be taught by the action of God, and not by any effect of the mind. God teaches the soul by pains and obstacles, not by ideas. This science is a practical knowledge by which God is enjoyed as the only good. In order to master this science it is necessary to be detached from all personal possessions, to gain this detachment, to be really deprived of them. Therefore, it is only by constant crosses, and by a long succession of all kinds of mortifications, trials, and deprivations, that pure love becomes established in the soul.”

[There are] numerous texts of holy Scripture in which the Holy Spirit makes us understand the necessity of temptation, and the good fruit derived from it by souls who do not allow themselves to become disheartened. Do you not know that it has been compared to a furnace in which clay acquired hardness, and gold is made brilliant; that it has been put before us as a subject of rejoicing, and a sign of the friendship of God, an indispensable lesson for the acquirement of the science of the saints.”

   St. John of the Cross, in The Dark Night of the Soul, also made mention of a science when speaking of what he called infused contemplation, in which God teaches the soul without its doing anything at all:

   “But, speaking more substantially and properly of this ladder of secret contemplation, we shall observe that the principle characteristic of contemplation, on account of which it is here called a ladder, is that it is the science of love. This, as we have said, is an infused and loving knowledge of God, which enlightens the soul and at the same time enkindles of with love, until it is raised up set by step, even unto God its Creator.”

   St. John also points out that “this ladder of love is so secret that God alone is He that measures and weighs it.” It is not only secret to the soul but at times even hides the soul within itself wherein it knows not. So much, then, for the disciple, especially a beginning disciple, trying to gauge his own progress as if it was some kind of neat and clean cookie-cutter affair. ”Do you perchance know the paths of the great clouds or the perfect sciences?” (Job 37:16)

   So perhaps here is the understanding to settle the legitimacy over the use of the word 'science.' All of the ups and downs and paradoxes involved in such a quest are to be considered included in such a science. Are we interested in that? Is here really a choice? It remains what it is. However, this definition would preclude any exclusivity.

   In the Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux mention is also made of this science:

   “Our Lord has no need of books or teachers to instruct our souls. He, the Teacher of Teachers, instructs us without any noise of words. I have never heard Him speak, yet I know He is within me. He is there, always guiding and inspiring me; and just when I need them, lights, hitherto unseen, break in. This is not as a rule during my prayers, but in the midst of my daily duties. Sometimes, however, as this evening, at the close of a meditation spent in utter dryness, a word of comfort is given to me: “Here is the Master I give thee, He will teach thee all that thou should do. I wish thee to read in the Book of Life in which is contained the science of love…” The Science of Love! How sweetly do these words echo in my soul! That science alone do I desire. Having given all my substance for it, like the Spouse in the Canticles, “I think that I have given nothing.” (Song of Solomon 8:7). After so many graces, may I not sing with the Psalmist that “the Lord is good, that His Mercy endures for ever” ? (cf. Psalms 106:1).

   One possible negative implication in calling an organization a 'Science', however, without the aforementioned clarification, is the tendency for members to think that other schools are not a science, and therefore inferior. Whereas, truly, most of us have no idea whatsoever if that is the case. How much better might it be to simply affirm, with Faqir Chand, "This may not be the only genuine path, but it is a real path, an ancient path which many have found helpful."

   An effective teaching like a science can be expanded, changed, corrected, and improved. Why so if absolute truth never changes? Precisely because conditions in relativity do change. Communication and dissemination of knowledge changes.The intellectual and psychological maturity of humanity changes, as it progresses from lower to higher stages of understanding. Therefore what works in one epoch does not suit another. For example, in primitive times truth was communicated, and was easiest understood, through parables, myths, allegories, and personifications; in our times straightforward statements and scientific precision are needed to convey the same truth. Kal, Dharam Raj, etc., might be examples where a new explanation might be warranted as better serving truth.

   What are some other characteristics of a science, or rather, the scientific method per se? Here are a few: observe, analyze, inquire, test, verify, revise. Are facts reported communicable and verifiable? Are they non-contradictory and in fact, non-contradictable? And are they universal, or true for all time?

   "'Never look at facts.' This is characteristic equally of the insane as of the religious. Every awkward inconvenient fact hostile to his belief will be regarded by the devotee as a test of his faith or his devotion and dismissed. Therefore the scientific approach based on solid facts is the sole and essential way...If religious faith and mystic yoga alone are to be practiced then God wants you to be a fool. Why then did he give you intelligence?" - V.S. Iyer

   Or, as Chester A Riley (actor William Bendix in the 1950's TV show, The Life of Riley) once said,

   "My mind is made up - don't confuse me with the facts!"

   Not just a science

   Sant Kirpal Singh may in fact have anticipated some of these problems when he referred to the path not only as a science, but as "the science and art of spirituality."

   "In order to derive full benefit from Para Vidya, it is absolutely necessary to have the guidance of a living Master, or an adept both in the science and art of spirituality." (Godman, p. 113

   That helps to dispose of certain misconceptions among those may have been led to expect rapid, unreasonable, or even predictable results. An art takes time to develop and is also not a linear or "cookie-cutter" process. One might then perhaps more accurately describe the path as "the artful application of an experimental or experiential science."

   In my field of chiropractic, we expand this to speak of a "science, art, and philosophy." For in philosophy lies the particular logical proofs accepted in a system, which may be different from those of other systems. And here we then introduce the concept of jnana or understanding, particularly of the inherent mysteries and paradoxes on the path which often baffle the beginner and advanced disciple as well - yet are not always articulated adequately (although of course not perfectly) on devotional paths such as this one.

   Here are a few more slogans which, while in a highest perspective are true enough, are often repeated and accepted uncritically or in a dogmatic fashion. The point in all of this is that we need to understand many things from different points of view to represent the teachings in an approachable and balanced way, otherwise people may not only be turned away [I prefer this to saying they 'weren't ready' or 'weren't called'], but also suffer unnecessary disappointment and disillusionment as the years pass.

   "The Master gives you the diary."

   Is this true? In the most general sense where the "diary form is overhead," as Kirpal once said, and the Master's regard is upon it, in that sense, yes, it is a form of grace. We do not mean to be unnecessarily cynical. Otherwise, however, the Master does not personally 'give you the diary'. The diary form is a sheet of paper that has been zeroxed for forty years, and anyone can hand it out and tell you how to check off the categories and turn it in once a year. (But even the latter is not done anymore) Why not say, "here is something that has worked in the past, you can try and see if it works for you, and if not, honestly devise and stick to your own honest self-introspection process" ?

   "The Master gives you seva."

   This, too, needs some elaboration. Seva has been traditionally been considered a great form of special grace, that is, the call to work directly for a Master's cause. And it still can be. Unless one is led to think that the only route to heaven is to be involved with missionary work for a cause, however, which often puts the cart before the horse if one has not really proven to his or her satisfaction that the path is indeed the highest, or that or is worthy of or called to such service, then it should be acknowledged that seva or service comes in variegated forms, as numerous as the number of disciples. No one should be persuaded that his own unique life is separate from the Master's cause, or that he should feel obligated to work for the latter directly, from the outset of his personal sadhana. Even in the teaching it is said that 'only from rare karma is one blessed to directly serve the master's work.' Yet many no doubt feel their capacity is therefore rather limited. This is not so, for everyone's unique dharma is their form of service. And most especially, but often overlooked, is that a primary form of service to the world is simply to wish it well, to send out prayers for its good. One can always pray for the hurting, the needy, the unfortunate, and of course help physically when one can. Expressing gratitude is also major seva, yet how often do we do it? In the subjective world we live in this has omnipresent implications and results. "Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

   My Master, Sant Kirpal Singh, near the end of his life, ailing, was once asked by some of his devotees if they were bothering Him and if it were better if they left him alone. He replied, “No, you are my solace.”. Just imagine, the gratitude to feel worthy of being able to offer any service to another.

   "Meditation is effortless effort."

   This is true when it is so accomplished or mastered. It is really the fruit of years or effort! Until then the double-bind of trying to be effortless is lost on too many disciples who try and fail and are disheartened. Similarly, the expression, "have regular, accurate meditations" is important, but contains its own double-bind. It seems to imply that Perfection can be attained by a technique. Yet even if this were so, it is acknowledged that sweet loving remembrance is the basis of real success and effortlessness. And that is a beautiful thing, and traditionally the very heart of a path of bhakti. Further, the Masters say, "with a little thought of His, you will weep like anything." He loves us first. But what of those who try for years, and do not have such sweet remembrance, or lack the total confidence in and love of their Master that would make simran or japa natural? They may have not been able to fall in love with the Master yet, and then what else can one do but simply pray. No doubt, honest effort will call forth a response from God, in case one has not had the personal time to develop such a relationship with his initiating Master, but many do suffer this lack. Again, there is no easy answer here. Being told that they are just not trying hard enough, or that it takes a lifetime to win or be worthy of such love, or that they are doing something wrong, as many disciples and even some masters have said, may in cases be true, but is not of much help - especially when, in some cases, that may not only be untrue, but the very opposite may be the case. Perhaps one is trying too hard! How many can walk around day after day concentrating on a thought or picture in their mind while fulfilling with love their daily tasks - especially in the beginning - how many can do that? It is traditionally a fruit of practise, which leads to effortless effort. So it takes time to develop. Contemplation or dhyana is effortless, but the concentration which precedes it is not effortless - (“There is no high road to concentration,” said Kirpal Singh) - excepting for the X factor, Grace. So putting down in the diary only the time one is actually in contact with the light and sound within - which in the past was an instruction on the diary form - and being frustrated or in despair because one does not see 2 1/2 hours entered therein - maybe for years - seems futile. Perhaps this issue has been clarified in recent years; if it, it seems that it begs for clarification.

   Another real possibility is that one may be knowingly or unknowingly going through a form of a 'dark night of the soul', as mentioned, making the performance of any inner exercise impossible - such is a real test of faith, a very real possibility, and a demand for a different way of relating to the Spirit. What if one really can not remember Him, in a clear way, or even come to a stage where he wonders what that means anymore, in the face of the equal commandment to see Him everywhere? In such a state one begins to see, through bitter herbs, that one is not in control of his mind or anything, really. Scripture is all in agreement, however, that the very desire to remember, to be faithful, true, devoted, righteous, is equal to the same. An unspoken prayer in the depths of the heart is the same as a prayer made manifest. This has in fact been said to be a true prayer.

   There in fact may be many reasons why one may not apparently succeed at one-pointed, continuous simran or japa. Many in fact try for years and years and do not make recognizable progess this way. Many cannot 'forget the body below,’ or the breathing, for instance. Yet they may feel blamed for not doing the exercise correctly, as if their shortcoming is due to a failure on their part that is easily rectified. Personally I have almost always had this problem, even when not meditating. Yet I still love Kirpal dearly. "A few minutes of the Master's grace" and there are no problems,” he used to say. But may there not be other reasons than simply one's failures, as to why he is more ‘incarnated’ than desired, perhaps, for easy success at this type of meditation? Perhaps it shouldn’t be said, but many simply cannot concentrate at the third eye. Initiation is supposed to fix this problem, but does it? - in all cases? This is an important topic. The very attraction of Sant Mat was supposed to lie in the power of a Master in dragging the soul to the inner door, without having to struggle to get there by oneself, so one could then meditate accurately. Many report this happening. In many other reported instances - too many - this has not happened, and people get dissappointed. Whereas if this were not promised in the way it is, the expectations and understanding might be different and assimilable. This is not to disparage the promise given on this Path, only to call for a balanced presentation. One additional point. One-pointedness, or having but one dominant thought in the mind, is a traditional stage of practice. Not the end, but a stage. But the shortest way to make this a reality is sometimes not to struggle with thoughts, but, if it were but possible, to surrender the mind, and shift one's identification from being a little thinker of thoughts, to being the thought of the Thinker. This way even if thoughts continue one is not bound by them. "There is room [in the Self] even when it is crowded," said Ramana. Let the thoughts come. Pay them no heed. If one has been able to accomplish this turnabout he has accomplished much of the purpose of life. One is reminded of the often-told story of a saint, who said that spirituality is easy - it is 'just like plucking up a plant here and planting over there.' This is sometimes explained as the removal of one's attention from the world and placing it on the third-eye center, but here we take a broader view. One sacrifices the attention and shifts it from self to Self; the thoughts become God's responsibility. But as Kirpal said, "very rarely even a blessed soul may acquire this attitude." The beginner usually can't understand this; that is, he is ready for the idea of self-improvement, but not that of being unconcerned with self, i.e., self-abandonment or the unreality of the self. How to 'do' this? (The ego wants to know how to do this. It is a problem!) We are the effortful doer all day long, and then expect, using effortless-effort, to be the non-doer in meditation. How to 'learn to 'be still', i.e., create the inner vacuum which allows the higher self to enter and work in and through us? One way is to gradually create a disposition in which we unlearn all that we know, all that we have acquired through thinking, remembrance, measurement, comparison, and judgement. This is a practice that leads us towards being our true self as well as a condition conducive to true meditation and contemplation. And where are we ultimately heading? "You are already there, you just don't know it," said Kirpal. It must be realized as much in life as in meditation. "Effortless effort" can not be compartmentalized.

   If any of this discussion helps, good. Otherwise, remember it is only a reflection of the author’s experience and opinion. After all, who am I to raise any of these questions? I am well aware of my lack of qualifications or authority. Some, depending on their experience and chosen lineage, feel that I am being too critical, while others feel, to the contrary;, that I have been much too lenient! I am but a beggar at the feet of the Masters, all of whom are great, all of whom have been kind to me, but, also, one who has suffered and seen others suffer, and only seeks clarification leading to greater understanding and enhanced aspiration for all.

   "Do not look into the eyes of others."

   This was said by my own beloved Kirpal, and not without a glint in his own eye, but is it absolutely true and adaptable in our modern society? One might possibly grant it some benefit to a beginner building a hedge between himself and the world - a hedge that will only have to be torn down sooner or later - but how can one see the Real in every being this way? Should one really only look into the eye's of the Master - for fear of contamination by 'Kal' - and not that of ordinary humanity, and even the beggar? How much 'oneness' can one realize that way, and how long might it take?! Indeed, how can one receive from, and bless, others, in this fashion? How is one to learn there is only one reality shining through all eyes? One must learn to look Kal, the Archangel of testing and beloved of God, in the face - how much more one's brothers and sisters! Moreover, the opposite of this advise is now an important part of many emerging paths of spirituality, as well as therapy, and I can vouch that it is a powerful practice. Is one not to gaze into the loved one's eyes? Is not the Master everywhere? "What you see is you," said Kirpal. "The inside is the outside, and the outside confirms the inside." Are we not to make this real, searching out and confirming the soul in all? What are we protecting? The most extreme version of this advice was exemplified by one acclaimed but then defamed successor to Kirpal Singh who once recommended that "children up to the age of five should be blind-folded, to avoid the worldly impressions." If there was a sure way to make children psychotic, this would be it. Children need many and rich experiences, to grow and blossom. And we are all in that category! How can one learn to see the Real behind the image if he cannot see any of the images? Impossible. It appears that I am not the only one who has thought in this way. One initiate wrote upon his return from India:

   "He showed [me] that there is nothing in this vast creation but the Master and the disciple. That's all there is! This place is a training ground where He teaches the lesson of how to see only Him. So what's there to be afraid of? What to avoid?...Master teaches at all levels simultaneously. In his physical presence, for example, he speaks some words to a group; some hear one thing, some hear other things, some hear little at all, and some are given inner awakening that could not have come from the words he spoke. So when he says to protect yourself - "Don't look into the eyes of others," "Don't touch others"...these rules are according to the law, "as you sow so shall you reap." This is true of course...but the highest law is love,and "Love knows no law." If we are living, well, we cannot even see the bad radiation or karma. Love knows nothing of these things; it only knows and sees Him. love knows giving and receiving. How can we see and love God in all others if we're afraid of the bad, unspiritual radiation? How can we serve and love the God in all others if we're always thinking about our own selves?" (19)

   So here is another are where intelligence is needed. Yes, the novitiate is in danger of taking on the negative qualities of those involved in a downward worldly tragectory, and may rightly guard himself to a degree from such radiation. Kirpal said:

   "So if you look into the eyes of others who are imbued with worldly things, then you'll have that radiation. So it is always safer not to look into the eyes of others - not a whole lot - unless you can have darshan of someone of whom you are convinced that he is much better than you are, developed in a spiritual way.".

   'Not a whole lot'. Does not that say it all? We do not associate with unsavory, angry, untruthful, or lustful characters on an ongoing basis - service occupations excepted. A man is known - overall - by the company he keeps. But otherwise, in everyday life, to judge whether or not one should avoid looking in the eyes of another, one must first be certain of the spiritual status of that other - a difficult task under any circumstances. It requires making a judgement. Second, one must be aware of not witholding the chance for an other person or being, less fortunate perhaps, in receiving a higher radiation from you. Third, one has of course to determine what is meant by 'worldly things'. Are we excluding all ordinary pursuits other than what we may narrowly judge to be spiritual? Or only not looking at the wino in the gutter? And even then, who is so proud of himself to refuse to be willing to do that, and seeing God there? How soon do we forget, ""there but for the grace of God go I." And "oft one entertains an angel unawares."

   Not so easy an admonition to fulfill, then, as it may at first have seemed, is it?

   "Don't tell any of your (inner) experiences to others."

   This is a big one, with a real danger of stagnation on the path. Not merely by the telling, but also, in some cases, from the not telling. As this is likely to be extremely controversial, perhaps the most controversial topic in this article, let us explain. If it were just applied to inner, subtle mystical experiences, and/or inner messages from the Master, this is the traditional and generally useful piece of advise for a beginner who remains in the stage of evaluating status or progress solely in terms of the kind of personal visions or mystic transports he has, or who is apt to be swept up, or sweep others up, in ego, envy, or judgement of self and others. And one is a beginner if he holds this viewpoint, no matter how high his experiences appear to be; in this case discretion is the better part of valor - and also humility. This is to be still in the 'objective' standpoint, whereas if one has truly transitioned more to the 'subjective' viewpoint (seeing all in oneself, or the Self, or at least recognizing that such is the true nature of things, for which one takes no credit, and grants the perspective that having inner visionary experiences does not necessarily make one special, more advanced, or even better), these events no longer matter so much, and the talking or not talking about them is not so relevant to oneself and subject largely to the criterium of their value to others. (However, before further making our point, this is not to devalue such experiences altogether. Even one such as Ramana Maharshi - the last person one might suspect of saying as much - said, "visions are better than no visions because they are a sign of concentration and that one is nearer an experience of the Self." Everything is important, and such sweets or graces are also a sign of the protection and constant presence of one's Master; they especially come in the beginning to bolster faith, and anytime thereafter when that strengthening is needed. As such they are private confidences and in most case will and generally ought to remain so).

   We are not then speaking here of such obvious type of cases as one Parmeshwar (Sat Sandesh, April 1976), who had rapid inner progression of experiences, and went about freely telling everyone what she saw inside, displaying powers attained, acting like a Guru, and not stopping even after repeatedly being told to do so by Kirpal Singh, who, not until even several years later withdrew her inner access completely. Nor are we speaking of boasting of such experiences. And we might as well also mention, on the other side, the parading of certain model devotees' apparent spectacular experiences by the leadership/teacher as examples of how others should carry on their lives, such as 'so and so never watched not TV, went to movies, and only read Master's books', and so on. This is not appropriate either, and can breed disappointment and stressful effort at emulation of others which may not be at all fruitful for any given individual. It is the sign of an adult that the does not need the approval of others (especially his 'parents') to determine his own activity, nor is he afraid of such. The fact that so and so would not even go to the movies unless he asked his father/master if it was okay has no bearing on what any individual should feel free to do. Disciples would do well and good to see if this is the nature of their relationship towards their Master.

   In terms of keeping things secret, what we are talking about is the discrete disclosure of one's experience in the instance when it may be of use in helping to bolster the faith or understanding of both oneself and another, with the realization that such experience is not proof or validity of any elevated status to take credit for, but rather, is a subtle matter of seeing something real that is a key factor, or seed, of the true path. This disclosure or articulation requires maturity, sensitivity, and humility. We also have the historical example of Ramanuja, who 'shouted from the rooftops', caring not if he went to hell for doing so. Of course that is a story for our inspiration, not an explicit guide for behavior. Reason and heart-felt intuition is a more true means for us to rely on. People have always been doing this anyway, this is only to set a base of balanced understanding for it. The intent and overall situation is all important. But here we are not primarily talking about visionary experiences that 'happen' to oneself.

   This is to say, there is another kind of 'experience' that is a glimpse of truth, of the heart - which might be called the secret of the path - the telling or sharing of which is, in our opinion, at specific times a duty of a person graced with them to share. For the books, especially mystic books such as those of Sant Mat, do not clearly speak of them as much as other paths, such as some of the paths, perhaps, of nonduality. If we stick dogmatically to a Sant Mat perspective we will often find ourself forced to simply dismiss these as unreal, irrelevant, or of little value - chiefly because we do not understand them. And if one is preconditioned to demean or dismiss them, he will not be in a condition to recognize them if they happen, and he will also be unable to point them out to others, or share them with those who are bewildered and have begun to question their own experience. Keeping these inside can lead to years of confusion in many cases. These may include experiences where one recognizes in clear but simple (and non-visionary) ways examples or appreciations of the hidden greatness of the Master, their solicitude and care, and so on, but it goes beyond that. We are speaking of insight or true glimpses of the person himself. One could also call them non-experiences in that respect. And so regarding theses, where appropriate and useful, our expressed duty might be expressed as "rendering to God what is God's," just as we "render to Caesar what is Caesar's." Such sharing - besides the fact that it (as well as other, lesser kinds) is already going on, and has always gone on - the giving of our personal and meaningful subjective, hard-won yet also graceful insights - of our selves - is really crucial to all of our welfare and progress. Giving of these treasures, when appropriate, helps those in need and increases faith. Therefore we ought to be disposed to share them with those who are given to us by life to share. This means those who are naturally drawn to us or present themselves, not just anybody anytime. We naturally are led to help one another this way. We naturally share our ordinary 'outer' experiences, so why not also those experiences that are neither outer or inner but of Truth, and yet so often missed when one is only expecting big mystical things to happen. But that is the point. Mystical experiences 'happen', while the other is announced, declared, or recognized by, as and of the person. We all have them, and sharing helps 'close the gap' between our relative world and the Absolute. Even writing of these Glimpses - or whispers from eternity - to ourself, opens a door in the tangible world for someone to appear who is in need of our own glimpse for a confirmation of their own truth, or a part of their development. This is not getting in between someone and their Master, or you and your Master; rather, with discretion, it can help in bringing us all closer - in my opinion.

   Just so, even here there is a caveat. In the beginning when one is newly finding God as his inner self, so to speak, through the delicate process of intuition, it can be confusing to discuss problems, exchange ideas and inner experience to others. That is, one or others can be led to doubt ones own discovery, as they are so subtle. So, again, caution is in order, but not a blanket rule: ones own inner intelligence in such matters must be given chance to show itself.

   Such insights or sharing needn't be extraordinary. Again, we aren't especially just talking about, "I saw such and such scene inside, this or that phenomena, or received this or that special personal message," and so on. Although there could be an occasion for that, too. Tact, sensitivity, and common sense is advised. And how can one get to such a place as Kirpal wrote:

   "Please learn to be receptive to His grace and feel His kindly presence riding with you on the buses, chatting with you in the street, sitting with you in the park, by your office desk, accompanying you every morning to the office, slowing down by the lily pond to check the new flowers and walking with you in the evening all the way back by the new moon" (20),

   And if one is excluding what is already there by limiting his expectations to something spectacular? Consider that the spectacular has already happened, but we just don't notice it! Illumination can happen all of the time, in small ways, that are only to be seen and appreciated. If we only expect to find it at our third eye, we may have a long and dreary wait. Which leads us to:

   "Seeing is above all"

   This saying of Kirpal Singh has been subject to some confusion. I love my Master and would not sow seeds of doubt or confusion over anything he said, but the questions are already there, especially if one has read the world of a safe such as Ramana Maharishi, and must be addressed. In my opinion, the truth of it depends on what the meaning of 'seeing' is. Kirpal often compared seeing to just thinking, feeling, and drawing inferences, which he held as inferior. And if we think of a person being merely an intellectual or a poet, or a pseudo-mystic, this is indeed true. Meditating is superior to merely thinking about meditating, or just believing in or having a feeling or hunch about spiritual matters. Having a visionary experience in meditation is better than not having one and just thinking one has! Even in Sant Mat, however, there is mention of a stage beyond seeing, for the sense faculties of this kind of seeing (both outer and inner senses - or indriyas) only extend so far. They are not supposed to remain after the causal planes (in Sant Mat terminology). So here, we really need a different word than seeing to signify the experience on those planes. The senses resolve into manas, the manas into buddhi, buddhi into Atman. Buddhi, reason or discriminative intelligence, is thus considered higher than seeing. That is to say, what sees (consciousness or awareness) is considered more primary than that which is seen (objects, visions). The main difference between Sant Mat and a school like Vedanta is that the latter asks us to consider and contemplate on this from the beginning, not only at the end. They would say we still need to ask of our visions, "how do I know this is true, or real?" And actually, for Vedanta a basic principle is that whatever is seen is unreal! (i.e., impermanent). It is not to say meditation is just a bunch of business, for deepening concentration and the light which comes from that, up to the penultimate experience of an ocean of light (penultimate, because it is still something seen), is the traditional way to get to the witness consciousness behind it all, or the stage of self-realization in Sant Mat. At this stage the mystic exclamation of "I have seen God" is passed beyond, because there is no longer two things, I and God, to be in relationship with each other.

   Another example to think over might be the claims, for instance, that at Daswan Dwar every soul will see the pool of Manasarovar with eighty-four steps. The question one may ask is,' how do we know that everyone will experience this the same way?' How could you prove it? Even in this world we can't know such things perfectly. Maybe eighty-four, a sacred Hindu number, reflects a cultural bias to the experience, whereas other traditions may experience this level differently. Might not an important question be, 'what is the true nature of this experience?' rather than merely what is seen in ones vision (which in any case one has to pass beyond). Baba Faqir Chand, for instanced, gave more psychological/philosophical interpretations of these stages than those found in the Beas books.

   Of course, it is also recognized in the traditions that this (non-duality, beyond subject-object distinctions) is really true at all stages. And so a problem can be that too rigidly holding to the idea that seeing is above all can put one a position to miss many true moments of insight - 'seeing' the truth of the matter, or 'seeing' in the sense of understanding or recognizing truth. Many times we use the word 'seeing' in this sense. "Ah, I see what you are saying," or "oh, now I see!" It is not meant literally in the sense of seeing an object, either external or internal, but of knowing or understanding. Taking 'seeing is above all' to mean that only mystic visions or light are legitimate experiences may cause one to miss many spiritual opportunities, many moments of grace. We will look only for the fantastic, rather than gentle, subtle and quiet moments that fall as dew from heaven, but are often more enduring and fundamental than experiences of meditative dhyana. But can equally be considered moments of real 'seeing.'

   "What you see is you," said Kirpal Singh. This is really, in my opinion, a non-dual confession of 'Atman and Brahman are One.' But it is clear that this would be impossible to fit into the ordinary meaning of 'seeing.'

   And then we have the scripture, "blessed are those who believe who have not seen," an affirmation that faith can be even more important than visions, in terms of spiritual growth - especially for those who have already enjoyed meditative experiences. [For more on this topic see the article, "The Dark Night of the Soul" on this website].

   So these are a few things to think over.

   Re-phrasing much of this, it seems to be a kind of spiritual law that a flow must be kept going between oneself and the universe, in spite of its 'illusion'. If so, then whom do might we prudently share our glimpses with? Those who our heart reveals us that life brings to us. Keeping everything hidden, private, by blanket rule or regulation, can reinforce the very encapsulated separation we are trying to free ourselves from. Some will now reply, 'the teaching says, no, telling experiences only reinforces ego.' And this certainly can happen. But this seems to pertain mostly to 'objective' experiences - of which inner visionary mystical experiences are one variety - and even so only with those who still believe they are of utmost personal significance - thus potentially stimulating egos all around. We are here speaking primarily, however, of sharing glimpses of the true, subjective Identity, the very Person himself, the Mystery, God, or the Master's grace, and then only to those receptive to the sharing and who may benefit from such confidences. If we keep our light under a bushel, who will know of it - except indirectly through our 'works'? The Master is not the only one who can do this. We each must do it, or we will 'lose whatever little we may have'. Here is another apparent 360 degree turn from Sant Mat principles, but understood rightly - and we all understand this in our hearts - in our opinion it is a key to further growth. We glorify our 'Father in Heaven', not only by worldly works, but by spiritual giving and receiving. Both are needed. We must speak our truths to the world, however humble they may be, and until we do we are not sharing the light, but repeating the words of outer authorities, which anyone can do. The world wants to hear from you.

   And so we must learn to trust ourselves. Glimpses of truth have a certain flavor: they are simple, childlike, exciting, surprising, inspiring, and expectant. Expectant of what? - the Good, and only the Good. We feel giddy and hopeful, more real and independent. Illuminations enlighten the intelligence, clarify purpose, awaken intuition, and set free creativity. We so often doubt them, they are so quiet, especially if we have been a long time on the path. And we have all been a long time on the path - lifetime after lifetime. If we don't share, our acquaintances will wonder why the truth of the path hasn't work as its spokespeople claim that it does. Truth must be put into our own words if it is to touch and enliven others. Share when the opportunity presents itself. And if one can see no opportunities, renew your conversation with Truth, and they will arise. In addition to all this, sharing validates the truth of a path in comparison to what one hears about other paths. Some things are personal, but too much secrecy creates exclusiveness and separatism.

   Additional points to consider for remaining in tune with an emergent global spirituality

   One thing is certain: Masters - and students - can no longer be bound by creeds, dogma,and solidified interpretations of scriptures. Those days are receding fast. The tendency to take ancient books as immutable, eternal law for areas of the human heart that we haven't yet fully understood, and where we need an honest guide, does not meet the needs of modern man. To hold to the words of any man, no matter how holy, as eternally sacrosanct is to limit God's ever-fresh guidance of humanity. And it is often to return ourselves to an ignorance that those words have already delivered us from. They were worthy in their time, and served their purpose. They may still be of value, but the extent value needs to come under scrutiny and not be merely believed. And it is obvious by and large that the gurus have been changing and adapting their advice as the confrontation of East and West follows its natural course. This is but inevitable, for the karmas of westerners have been to some extent quite different than those of easterners. In the West we have signed on for incarnation and self-actualization, while in the East the disposition has been to dismiss or sublimate the self into a greater whole or higher reality. These differences have been significant. Due to globalism in some areas this is changing, and therefore the teachings themselves will not and can not remain exactly the same. The old ways, as is, are thus increasingly not suitable for the mind and psyche of modern man. The 'horizontal' dimensions of soul-growth are also being recognized as legitimate in their own right alongside the 'vertical'. Spirit and Matter (the 'flesh') are seen as not so opposed anymore. Kirpal used to repeat a favorite slogan of his (with a chuckle more often than not), "chastity is live and sexuality is death". My young friends and I believed this when first stepping foot on the path - as far as the pursuit of internal yoga was concerned - but privately joked among ourselves, "sexuality is life and chastity is death!", thus in my opinion not so much flaunting ancient wisdom, but intuitively sensing even back then for the need of a more integrated, less obsessive and more whole-bodily loving angle of vision.

   This was actually the more ancient Vedic view, before religion and yoga divided life into a battleground for the spiritual warrior. Interestingly, one can follow the progression of perspectives on sex and relationships among succeeding gurus. Whereas two Masters back, we heard, "I don't like divorce," "I had my own room you see" (with laughter), "have one or two children and then live as brother and sister," while one Master back the advise was, "try to work it out as best you can," "don't sleep with her before marriage" (!), "have sex once or twice a month," but also finally, "I am old-fashioned." And currently, a Master who has lived most of his adult life in the West, has argued with some awkwardness, in reply to opinions about love-making, "well, these are ancient teachings," but also, "if the relationship is unworkable it is better to separate." Some may see in these statements only a sign of the moral degeneration of the age. More and more, however, we see that people are being left to themselves to come to sane terms and self-understanding in these areas. A rejection of a certain moral rigidness and a recognition of the difficult and creative ordeal that an integral spirituality that values incarnation is seems to have filtered down to Sant Mat at the top levels. And this necessary relativity must be reflected in the self-introspection of the devotees. For instance, I have met many initiates whom I had not seen for twenty, thirty, or even forty years. Among these are some who were the most devoted then, and still are. One even had asked the Master for "love and devotion" - in that most important moment when they were asked by Him what it was that they wanted. Yet they now tell me they have been married three or four times, have five or six kids with different wives, and so on. So, besides being relieved at my own tendency towards 'mea culpa, mea culpa' (!), this tells us not so much that sin has increased, but that the body-mind and personal shadow side has asked for its due respect, and the attempt or disposition to merely fly out of it into the light has invoked its opposite response, calling for real transformation and transmutation. This is another huge topic.

   On the other hand, there was a dear soul who I met several years back, last seen forty years ago. He was a bit rigid then, and now, at eighty-five, the first thing he said to me was,"do you keep a diary? You know, St. Francis of Assisi said everyone must keep diary." - A diary?! What did he know of my long struggles, and how could that information be of any use? Hearing that made my heart bleed for him, to see one so stuck, after decades concerned with purity and correct behavior, and worried about 'getting there', while missing out on the always available grace that is freely given, the awareness that sets us free. Wake up, my friend, accept you are loved and the One who loves you.

   There may be said to be two basic attitudes towards right conduct, with the first divided into three grades. In the first category, one first may be considered a 'slave of God' where he supplicates and obeys the rules and commandments of a Deity or deity-figure out of fear of punishment or damnation; this generally applies to 'scare tactics' traditionally used by religions for the sake of the common people to lead them away from sin; at a higher stage, but still childish, one is an 'employee of God', and obeys in hope or a heavenly reward; finally, the third and higher grade is that of the 'lover of God', who lives the commandments not out of fear or hope of reward, but out of pure reverence and love. The second type of attitude, which could be said to have been introduced and articulated as such by the Buddha - although that also spawned a host of rules and regulations - is to learn and apply in ones own experience that which leads towards freedom from suffering. How, on this more bhakti oriented path, can one love a Master if one is not free to experience in his own body-mind what works and what doesn't work, and, importantly, to find out that one is loved no matter the path one's learning process may take? How can one, furthermore, ever be truly 'self' realized if he is not free enough to test/express his own judgement, understanding, and also creativity? For will real freedom ever happen otherwise?

   What can a Master do? Many things. He can give an initiatory boost to the disciple. He can send his own life-impulses to him from time to time. He can also be an unerring guide and agency of grace for the soul on the inner planes as it moves towards its source. He may also, as Swami Rama would say, 'place a comma in your karmas', i.e., in his mercy altering certain life events in one's favor, taking the results on his own body, and, in this path, the promise is that the entire sanchit reserve karmic account is 'handed over' from Dharam Raj, or the 'Lord of Death' (or Karma) to the Master-Power, for distribution and custody, here and hereafter until one is liberated. A tall order and a great boon - and in dark moments when this very karma is in the process of being compressed and liquidated, often unappreciated, forgotten, or disbelieved. A Master may also be the agent to give liberation to ripe souls.

   What, however, can a Master not do? To a true devotee, perhaps nothing. But perhaps more realistically, this has a direct bearing on one's attitudes and preconceptions about the path and how it works. A true devotee will see nothing that his Master cannot do, being the Lord of the Universe for him, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, but we may safely say that a Master generally can not instantly make or teach one to become intelligent - although that I have temporarily seen happen, in the case of a retarded boy in Kirpal's company, and there are also historical examples of such instant transformations, such as Russian mystic Theophane the Recluse, who as a child was so dense he could not understand anything, and he prayed to God so as not to disappointment his parents, and in an instant was granted reasoning and discriminatory powers beyond his years and development. But in most cases this does not happen. The Master does not grant us immediate evolution. He can not instantly integrate the disciple's physical consciousness with that of all of the higher planes, or vice versa, the fruit of a process of relative wisdom that even many Masters have not fully achieved. He can help the disciple in this, but not so much by words, unless the entire teaching is modified to reflect a mature bias away from exclusive 'ascent' to that of a more tantric and non-dual transformation, in keeping with the times. Yet few among the multitudes of initiates have signed onto or want this, so any Master is restricted in modifying the teaching, no matter how great he is. Hopefully this will gradually change. But a few words on a sampling of silly statements that the Masters have made that no doubt plague some initiates. Bear in mind that there is no doubt here of the divine grace working in and behind these Masters, but in their human personalities they have said things that have raise some eyebrows on the discerning. This relates to the need for the individual to develop intelligence, dare to question, and not stifle doubts.

   Let it be said that being graced with glimpses of the realization there is nothing to seek, nowhere to go, no separation, and the struggle is over, is the very way that the eternal re-sounding Harmony will manifest with clarion tones, penetrating to the depths of the Soul while alive and present in this very earthly body. Kirpal tried hard to bring us to this point. This is what is meant by the human form being the place where God-realization is to be attained. If that were only achieved by leaving the body, why would we need to come here? We were already out of the body. And, similarly, if this - matter - is considered only an illusion, and all seen subjectively as within us, instead of objectively as 'out there', then why the concern about abandoning it? In this way evolution is fulfilled, for in truth we did not fall, or rather, saying that we are a fallen soul is only one way of looking at it. Some will say that there is no need for a path, because there is only God and we are already there. Yet, the world and the body persist, and there is a purpose behind it all. We say that the key is to view things subjectively, while acting in an objective world. Then we own it, and then we grow. Truth IS here and now, but still we 'climb the mountain - of understanding, through life's ups and downs.

   Kirpal had a very difficult time keeping a straight face with his many old-fashioned 'scare story' comments. For instance, he would quote Kabir as saying, "O man, having gained the man body, this is your last chance or you will fall all the way down." What - is there evolution, or isn't there? If there is, and evolution is so intelligent, bringing one to the point of having a man body, why should one fear falling 'all the way down'? Impossible! The human soul has been man for a long, long time, and is not going all the way down. Theosophy says so, Sri Aurobindo said so, esoteric Christianity says so. And if there was no evolution, for that matter, how could one - as an animal no less - accrue the rare and noble karma necessary to gain a man body? Kirpal also liked to say, with a chuckle and a smile on his face, "we have to make the right use of the man-body, and that is - to get out of it!" Has anybody else ever thought there was something unusual about this kind of statement? Another one, repeated by Sant Darshan Singh, is, "the soul is trapped in the womb where the bones are formed under intense heat and pressure, and it pledges that if it ever gets out of that agony it will remain devoted to God all of its life." But then, said Kirpal, "the soul comes from its prenatal home in heaven, and is sustained in the womb by the holy light and sound, and cries when it is born because it knows it is cut off from it." Which is it then: was the womb-life heaven, or hell? See the problem with blind acceptance? It just can not be honestly done. We are not, to be clear, saying that the Masters often do not have very good reasons for saying what they say at one time or another, only that to ignore that there are contradictions in the spoken or written teachings is to be naive.

   Now we have, for example, a wealth of Life-Between-Life (LBL) and Near-Death Experience (NDE) accounts, as well as extensive prenatal research, that contradict both of these stories. Nor has death been found to be universally painful and agonizing, as the ancient Koranic and Puranic accounts have scared millions with: "Like a thousand scorpions striking all at once," or "like pushing a thorny bush into the rectum and extracting it through the mouth."

   You see, the Master, in his love, and perhaps a smidgeon of lingering doctrinal loyalty, often spoke with 'forked tongue'. he used a double-technique of both scaring us with punishment while attracting us to the joys of following the dharma. He also often answered questions with two messages: one for the mind, often making little sense, thus short-circuiting the mind; and a second message with a deeper meaning specifically for the soul of the recipient. He had a field day with this teaching! How he wanted us to 'let go and let God', but how he also let us 'keep trying', no matter how painful, if we were not yet ready or capable of accepting that. And we bought it all, even if we were still confused. But this is no longer necessary. Those days are gone. The world is waking up, and we must do likewise. Truth is always better. He really did end an age, as many have come to feel. It is time to speak more plainly, so far as that is possible. And this is necessary because never before have all of the world's teaching been readily available to the masses, and their conflicting arguments beg for a resolution. This will happen with time. Just as all true desires must one day be fulfilled, so must true questions be answered. Even if those lie at the end of the mind's tether.

   Yet, "God teaches not by words, but by pains and contradiction," echoes Jean-Pierre deCaussade. Not only in life, but especially in the form of a Master, one is entering a force-field that will work to eradicate all that works to defend and justify itself. We, of course, are talking about the ego, the 'liar from the very beginning' - but which is also part of the divine plan. So a Master will automatically be a vehicle for work that plan, whether or not he is skillful or brilliant in teaching. And this work may happen through odd behavior of the Guru. One may not be able at times to tell if he is really stupid, or just acting so! So this must be understood. Your heart, if it is sincere, will feel the difference. It is often a delicate matter, for the Guru is not a therapist. We want to feel supported? - Support what - that which must be surrendered? Finally one comes to this point. First the courtship, then the fire, is often the process.

   One important consideration is that of new initiates being told to take their time studying the teaching until they are satisfied that this is right before committing themselves. That is all well and good, but, truly speaking, real understanding of the fine points of any teaching, in itself, its comparative relationship to other teachings, as well as its specific personal relevance to you, is not a task of a few weeks or months, but of many, many years - if one actually makes such an investigation. In this day of instant worldwide access to all the spiritual writings of mankind, which previously were provincial and separated, it is becoming clear that in spite of many attempts to conclude that 'all traditions and masters say the same thing', that in fact this is not true, and though there be similarities in some essentials, there are many conflicting arguments and differences of perspective - even regarding the same phenomena. Therefore, it is not surprising, and rather to be expected, that a person's initial understanding will pass through different stages, and subsequent opinions, beliefs and inner needs may change. A true teaching should have room for this process and not insist on blind fidelity to all statutes through an initial decision made in relative ignorance, with the disciple feeling he may lose his place in the fold, or his sacred relationship with his Master, if his innate intelligence develops in this direction. This is not a problem unique to Sant Mat, but it is often overlooked by both teachers and disciples. Yet it should be welcomed, in our opinion, for disciples to freely seek out or explore other teachers, or books, for instruction - many are already doing it anyway - not as change of allegiance from their root-Guru, but to round out their understanding and development. Pythagoras in his Egyptian studies visited every man known for his wisdom. It has long been a practice for Tibetan masters, after a time, to send their disciples to other teachers or masters for just such a purpose. It was recognized that often it took an 'ecclesiastical' assembly of wisdom sources to get the job done. It is no shame for a Master to be fully competent in one dimension of spiritually, but lack a relative skill of teaching, which is not an automatic acquisition of realization, but the fruit of a lengthy cultivation along certain lines. No one need be placed under the stigma of having it said that 'his soul has become an adulterer,' because he has sought out instruction in areas not available to him through his chosen Master. As one friend of mine, now a teacher, has advised, 'dare to grasp the means of your own liberation'. If you have doubts, do not sit on them for years, but seek out answers. Absorb wisdom wherever you can find it. Have faith in yourself. One beloved devotee who went to many teachers for years, including Papaji, and studied advaita, after an accidental death was said by Rajinder Singh to have gone straight to Sach Khand because of his strong attachment to Kirpal.

   Truth, being infinite, is manifest in many forms, channels, places, and times, and to different types and different levels of development of students. A certain amount of independence is needed to become spiritual adults, capable of reconciling many apparently contradictory teachings, and placing them in a mosaic of truth rather than trying to pigeonhole or redact them into fundamentalist Sant Mat, or 'our teaching is higher than yours', before one really knows that. If one is satisfied with his devotional path, that is certainly fine, and perhaps enough for him even for a lifetime, but if he further ventures to preach that his is the only way, he had first better exercise his discriminative mind to the fullest, before making such a claim - if even then.

   Sri Nisargadatta: "you have thought your way into bondage and you have to think your way out of it."

   Jagat Singh: "90% of spirituality is right thinking."

   Ramana Maharshi: "The delusion that has come by wrong thinking will go by correct thinking."

   Must be something to it!

   In sum, the attitude, as seen on a bumper sticker, "Jesus said it; I believe it; that settles it," just will not do for most people anymore. Kirpal himself allowed for this freedom. In a talk in 1955 he said:

   "There should be an awakening all around. We have become just like prisoners, you see, kept in the strongholds of social bodies, never to think the other way, never to see the faces of others. But we say, "Oh, we are all for the Truth." What you get from one is all right, but you are not debarred from going to anybody else. See what he is. If he gives you something more, all right, you go. My Master used to say, "You go there and tell me; I will also go." You see, man must be open to conviction."

   Another fact that should have become obvious years ago: it is far past the time for initiates of any path to casually believe that they or their Masters have a monopoly on Truth. Not only is judgement and cultic opinion between Sant Mat branches unloving and inappropriate, but the holding of an attitude of superiority or even certainty, within Sant Mat in relationship to other legitimate paths, is, not only a display of ignorance, but not reflective of the Unity that is the need and message of the time. And Masters who play into this by using excessive platitudes, cliches, and rigid adherence to quotes from past Masters, instead of speaking from the human heart, with understanding, knowledge, and humility, are doing a disservice to those under their charge. Especially when many fear speaking their truth, for fear of being labelled 'disloyal', or servants of 'Kal'. Are we being too harsh in saying this? Are we risking injuring the faith of many for whom the simple teachings of a master are the food they can assimilate at the moment? That is a possibility duly considered, and no doubt the masters have a tough job - made all the tougher by the current Teacher-student model of this path - but if it were not for the suffering of many souls over what is but unnecessary obfuscation at this late date in human time, we would not be offering suggestions or opinions - thoughts which are already in the minds and hearts of all too great a number of initiates. One honest and outspoken Sant Mat master, who was derided as an 'agent of Kal' by those clinging to their prejudices, decades ago openly said:

   "Many masters are now alive and working to prepare the ground for the spiritual revolution in progress around the world. Master Kirpal said over and over again that a new age was coming and that many masters would be at work to focus light on the earth plane."

   "Not only are there many masters but many unique avenues that souls now travel to gain new spiritual insights, new shifts in conscious experience, that have nothing to do with the masters' path directly as we perceive it. God works with every hand and every conceivable personality type in its own way."

   "We are the generation affected by the collective consciousness of mankind as it evolves towards God's intended awakening potential. It is simply time - Kirpal did not invent the time, God set the time, and Kirpal was one of the important instruments. We move very near the edge of the universal shift inhuman consciousness. Satsangis do not have any corner on the market of changing consciousness. God awakens whom he pleases, He awakens when and where it pleases him to do so. Look around, he is at work everywhere."

   And furthermore:

   "Once initiated no one needs to look for the physical master anywhere on the earth. Instead, when living profoundly centered in undemanding love for all the Master will automatically appear in your heart, in your home, in your play, and in your joy without ever asking...We only search again for the physical form to avoid serving Him in the troublesome student, the irritated boss, the tired wife, the crying child, the ugly fat man, the lonely widow, the junky on the corner, and the impolite sales clerk in the store. How long can we avoid serving Him and still vainly hope to find Him?"

   "Masters do not say, "study me" - they say "man know thyself." No master can enlighten you or me - they give the tools to be sure, they give direction to be sure, but we must do the work to be sure. The whole of Reality must be plumbed within ourselves."

   The latter statement has two half-truths in it: one, it is surely good to also 'study the Master', as it is good to study the lives of the saints and sages, so long as one stays balanced and does not aspire to be just a clone or copy of them, instead of being one's unique human and divine Identity. And two, a Master can certainly be an agent of ultimate enlightening grace to the ripe soul, that is, the soul who is ready to receive this great gift.

   In The Night is a Jungle, Kirpal wrote:

   "Unless a student opens his own consciousness, the teacher can impart nothing. He can only direct, counsel and define. But understanding cannot be imparted. That must come from within, and through self-development. Of course, he gives you some experience of how to know yourself, how to analyze yourself from the body. You have to start with that, no doubt. But working that way, in accordance with the guidance and help given by the master, you will one day come to realize that reality is within you." (21)

   And today all sources are proclaiming, within, without, above, below - and as you.

   "My me is God, nor do I know my selfhood except in God," wrote St. Catherine of Genoa. This is the degree of intimacy we eventually must realize, and cease projecting outside in dependency on an 'other'. Yet even as we struggle to understand, "God or Guru never forsakes those who surrender themselves," proclaimed Ramana; "If you remember Him, He remembers you," said Kirpal; and "to those who think of me near, I am near," promised Yogananda. All true Masters concur on this point. Even more, God remembers even if you do not, being the only Faithful and True One there Is.

   A related issue is that some initiates may have or develop more of a bias towards jnana than bhakti, which should not be a stumbling block on the path. Many initiates have and realize a profound connection with Kirpal, but after many years only moderate resonance with the totality of current practices, life conditions, or even philosophical approach of the teaching. That, too, is a problem, and why we boldly tender the suggestion that one be open to think of Kirpal, for instance, as much more than he was in his past incarnation. Because he is, and what was expressed in that life is not all he has done, is doing, or represents spiritually on this planet. And he fully supports an interest in any authentic practice and perspective that helps or works for his initiate. That is our own intuition and belief, which of course all need not share. The key thing is to have faith and trust in Him as supportive of one's essential Being, and faith in one's Self. Believe that it is simple, and already accomplished, although its confirmation in time be complex. The Master dwells in the innermost heart-centre of His devotee, as the devotee dwells in Him.

   Our opinion is that a modern, mature, balanced, integral path (of which there are very few) must include a profound understanding of each individual, and craft the path to match the specific needs of each person. Obviously this is very difficult in a large movement, leaving much responsibility on the individual's plate. In such a path, nevertheless, spiritual practices and qualities are seen as antidotes to imbalances and issues, and need to be applied in a skillful way. For instance, in the case of many people where there is already an imbalance towards excessively critical self-evaluation, then suggesting something like a regimented, simplistic diary form is not only not ideal, but may be counter-productive. It can exaggerate self-judgment. So qualities need to be in balance, and discrimination/judgment/conscience/evaluation need to be balanced with acceptance, patience, understanding and compassion. Balance of these is key, and a path that does not understand this has inherent limitations. There will be those who thrive, those who suffer, and those with mixed results. A path has many facets. The beauty of Sant Mat is that the Grace of the Master is a profound thing, and the essential spiritual practices are powerful for those whom they work for. But the practices, especially auxiliary practices, many are finding not universally accessible - no practices are - so there is an additional although not insurmountable problem there. With all due respect, forgive me for saying this, but I feel I must. Personally I am embarrassed by this diary form. It makes me uneasy, like someone in a Catholic school, or perhaps a Moonie selling flowers for a cause, in the sense that, who could I introduce to this path showing them such a piece of paper they must fill out? It seems evident that few serious, discriminating seekers, in the West at least, will buy this sort of thing anymore. So this is a problem, and needs an upgrade, in my humble opinion. But, who am I to say these things? Nobody in particular. Perhaps I have no right, and mean no disrespect for the Masters. I have never felt more love or closer to Kirpal Singh than I do today. If he hadn't called me a 'new man' and told me to 'go tell everyone I was a new man', I would still be sitting in my room and keeping quiet. But I am apparently incapable of doing that, and this is how I feel, nor am I alone. The question is, does any of this resonate with the reader? We sense it does.

   All paths thus have strengths and weaknesses. It the bottom line at some point, it seems:< r?< r>   “If a man is to remain forever the mere appendage of another man, if his mind is to echo back only that other man's idea, the question arises: When will he come to himself, his Atma? For is this not the final purpose or our life here?" - Paul Brunton

 &nbs Something to consider.

   17. Considerations Regarding Diet and Ethics

   The following observations, with recent additions, are taken from "Death of Dream and a Gift of Truth" in the Biography section of this website. Once I was taken up to Kirpal Singh's bedroom to see him before my departure to the States. One small thing I noticed, which may be of interest only for those on this particular path, and for whom, after all these years, it may still seem like a big deal. There was a bottle of fish oil on his night stand. Being vegetarians I mentioned that to his longtime friend Gyaniji and he said, "yes, I know, but it is very good for health." I didn't pursue the conversation further. My being allowed to see this was something that I remembered over the years and have pondered over how much intuition I should use on such health matters. It is possible that perhaps someone left it there and Kirpal did not use it. This of course I do not know. He did not seem to be very directive with his disciples, even to the point of permitting a loud, blaring TV to be on in the room next door where he would give morning satsangs. Ramana Maharshi was accused of being like this, too, even to the point of getting sick eating ganja (a variety of cannabis sativa) given to him by a devotee on one occasion. So I did not know the true meaning or significance of what I was allowed to witness there. But Kirpal was a great master, and if he did want to take fish oil, who am I to question it? For some initiates of Sant Mat this tale of the fish oil have seemed incredulous, but to many practitioners on other paths, as well as myself, it is nothing much at all. One satsangi who read this article said he didn't believe this story one bit (!), which, with all due respect, to me reflects an all too prevalent state of cultic paranoia. All I can say is, it was true, but is really not a big deal for anyone but me at the time, nor is it a big deal now. I didn't take it as a sign to become a non-vegetarian, but, at the very least it made me much less righteous in my judgement of those who are. Through the years I have observed the attitude and behavior of other masters on this issue. Sri Ramakrishna ate meat. His disciple Brahmananda loved to fish. The Dalai Lama, while quoting sutras on the Buddha teaching vegetarianism, didn't become one himself until 1965, when he was already thirty years old. That suggests to me that it is hard to live on vegetables in cold Tibet! Dr. Sharma, successor to Baba Faqir Chand, said he was o.k. with eggs. Many years of study by various authorities whose opinions I respect argue there are some people who need small amounts of animal protein in their diet to be in optimal health. This may depend on many factors, exercise included. Of course, they only speak in regards to physical and mental, not necessarily spiritual health, although the three are not so inseparable as they were considered to be in the past. My personal opinion on this,which is highly subject to error, is that the time for strict rules from 'on high' are over, as in any case it seems that more and more decent people are coming around to a sane and ethical dietary and general moral regimen of their own accord.

   I still am inclined emotionally and ethically towards the Sant Mat position of vegetarianism, for several reasons (compassion, karma, health, ecology), but, however, simply no longer feel the right to judge anyone (including myself) for their choices. As Kirpal once remarked, "to hurt someone's feelings because they eat meat is worse than eating meat itself," and, "more important than what goes into your mouth is what comes out of it." This is very similar to Matthew 15:11 in the Gospel:

   "What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them."

    Bodies are also very different, and I do not harbor as dogmatic of a position as I used to on this part of the teaching. If someone wants to eat eggs, it is not for me to cast blame. It does seem to me that unfertilized eggs, if available, would be less karmic than fertilized, although I know both are still taboo on this path, as well as in traditional yogic teachings of the past where eggs are considered as creating 'heat' in the body, inflaming passions, containing the germ of higher life, and so on. Certainly, paying double for eggs from pasture-raised chickens is a healthier and more humane practice than buying caged and corn-fed eggs. And if we want to carry this further, however, what about buying a leather coat, belt, gloves, or shoes? We can live without leather, can't we? Cowhides are not taken primarily from dead cows off the streets of Calcutta - for which there would be no karma, and perhaps there might even be a blessing - but stripped off still-living cows, after taking a gun-bolt to the head and hung upside-down to be blood-drained kosher style, in a factory-farm slaughter house, before being shipped off directly to a tannery. How much karma is accrued from being complicit in this slaughter by buying such leather goods - not to forget buying an Accord "EX" model with the leather upholstery? Seems to me a lot more than eating a few unfertilized eggs! The only difference one could make is the physical effect on one's cellular structure by putting something into the body. But that is rather slight karma by comparison, isn't it? And what of taking the many required doses of (unproven) vaccines? - most of them are made from diseased animal organs (cows, sheep, monkeys,humans, pigs), so that, too, contradicts the rule against animal products. If one protests and says that this is for medicine so it is O.K., well then, one may well ask, is not taking fish oil pills for health medicine, too? - and without toxic side effects of pharmaceuticals. So where do we draw the line? This turns out to be not so simple a moral issue. My personal feeling is that people need to make up their own minds about these things without too much rigidity or righteousness.

   But this is for the world as a whole. As initiates we are called to uphold values on the frontline of human evolution. Are we to revert to the diet of cavemen or primitive hunter-gatherers, because of the arguments of those who advocate the ‘paleo’ diet as being our truest genetically inheritance? I shudder at what such a modern world would look like! Was our remotest past not more like a Garden of Eden than that of the cave? Some have even scientifically have argued as such, saying that the paleo people do not go back far enough, that in fact the first few million years of our primate evolution had us eating much like that of the great apes, with a diet of fruit, shoots and greens - not meat.

   The following gives an esoteric argument which may settle the fertile-unfertile egg issue for some people. This regards the experiments of Cleve Backster, (excerpted from an article in the East-West Journal, April 1973), the man who first hooked up a plant to a galvanometer and observed that the readings he took corresponded to his own thoughts about the plant:

   "Acting on a whim, he [Backster] hooked up an egg to the polygraph. After an hour recording time, Backster was examining a graph of what seemed to be a heartbeat of an embryo chick, three to four days old, the cycles indicating a 170 beat/minute frequency.

   This egg, though, was non-incubated, unfertilized, fresh from the grocer. Microscopic analysis revealed no physical or circulatory structure which should account for the pulsatlions.

   'Is there,' Backster wonders, 'an "energy form blueprint" providing a rhythm and pattern about which matter coalesces to form organic structures - a force field that [Western] technology hasn’t known to exist? Does the "idea" of an organism precede its material development? Perhaps this is evidence for what the Bible and Plato say:

   In the beginning was the Logos - the structuring principle or thought form of the entity to be.' "

   In spite of this indication of archtypal intelligence for 'chickenness' detectable in unfertile eggs, the issue of killing is still rather mute. There is no conception, so no possibility of any soul there. One may be eating something of denser vibration, with some affect, but no conscious entity is killed. So that should be recognized. The karma is likely negligable. But the question of obedience to the Guru is raised and one each person must answer to in his heart. And the question of eating 'lower vibration' food is also there. But it is surely worth considering whether it might be better supporting these farmers than the unclean and inhumane factory-farm operations, if only as an intermediate step towards the greater good of less cruelty. That is, the ethics of supporting small, family farmers who raise pastured eggs (chickens raised on pasture, not in cramped cages, and eating only grass and what they find there), for instance, may be a practical way for us to stop the much greater evil of corporate commercial egg production. There is, however, no way to get around the fact that commercial egg production at present results in the male chicks being slaughtered, with only the females preserved exclusively to pump out eggs constantly until exhaustion, in much the same manner as dairy cows are used to pump out milk nonstop, with their calves talked from them and the males slaughtered.

   A new piece of information has come to light, however, which is the proposal to do "in-ovo" culling of potential male embryos, rather than letting them grow to maturity and hatch, where there is then much more suffering involved. I asked a leading pastured egg firm, Vital Farms, about this problem and this wads there response. In my opinion in the big picture it is worth supporting:

   "Our farmers don’t raise their own birds, instead they purchase their pullets (teenage hens) from suppliers with the highest standards of animal welfare. But the culling of male chicks is an issue in the egg industry that we are well aware of. We have recently gotten word about a global initiative, led by Unilever, saying that they are committed to funding research that would bring in-ovo sexing to the egg industry, and Vital Farms is doing everything we can to help with this endeavor. Our chief eggsecutive officer recently spoke with the folks at Unilever and told them we were willing to pay twice the price that we currently pay for our chicks, to help fund research. This in-ovo sexing could potentially eliminate the culling of male chicks, and we are very hopeful. We will continue to share on our social media outlets when there are any updates. The truth is that it is not economically viable to breed our own hens, and raise the roosters as well. The feed that we need to provide them is one of the most significant expenses, one which is offset by the revenue from the eggs. Take away that revenue (roosters cannot lay eggs) and it can quickly become very expensive, in addition to all the extra land that our farmers would need to keep these extra chickens on. Bear in mind that most of our producers are small, family-owned farms who make an honest, but not lucrative living from this ethical and humane method of farming. They would simply not be able to do that if they had to raise roosters. I hope that clears things up for you. Please let me know if you have any more questions or concerns regarding our eggs, sincerely, xxxxxxxx"

   Another issue sometimes raised is that, if one conceives the spiritual goal not as one of exclusive yogic ascent to higher planes, but also of the integrating and grounding of those realizations in this plane, then the argument of being exclusively vegetarian for the 'higher vibrations' in such foods comes under scrutiny. It is evident to me after forty years of observations in the therapeutic and healthcare communities that some people have had serious problems with a strict vegetarian diet long-term, in terms of obesity, blood sugar, various diseases and ailments, not the least of which are mood disorders in a highly stressful society, and do better with consumption of small amounts of animal products. It may be argued that many of these people adopted a poor version of a healthy vegetarian diet, and that may be so in some cases. An argument goes that some people may already be too 'light' in vibration, and unbalanced, and thus need such foods, so far as their current physical evolution is concerned; and there may also be a genetic requirement. If so this does not seem to me to be an admission of the legitimizing of animal suffering for our (humans) sake, but rather one of valuing the human body and its health for spiritual purposes. This need not demand a large investment in such foods. A primary practical ethical goal of eliminating large, cruel, factory farming operations by supporting the small family farmers is something to consider as perhaps more viable than holding out for total vegetarian purity, at least for now.

   Some Masters have put forth an additional argument that - while rejecting fertile eggs because of their potential for life - unfertile eggs are lifeless or sterile, barren of fecundity, and even 'putrid matter of no consequence', and on this basis to be avoided. With all due respect to the Masters who spoke like this a century or more ago, this is contradicted not only by the above reference to galvanometric studies, but also current health research. What is the benefit of invoking a category of 'sterility'? A head of uncooked broccolli placed in the ground will not grow, rather it will decompose; therefore, it is sterile. [It does have live enzymes in it, as do all raw foods, but it is definitely sterile]. Cooked grains will not grow, so they, too, are sterile. Pasteurized milk is dead and denatured, a health hazard and a far cry from raw milk which has health benefits, especially in cultured form such as yogurt of cheese. Technically, however, it is sterile. Eggs may be sterile but they do have life, are not a waste product, and contain valuable nutrients. Some health experts in fact consider it the perfect food. The cholesterol scare is mostly just a complete hype, like so much other junk 'science', funded by industry, but it is too large an issue to get into here.

   The argument often raised about eggs, etc., raising passions, is, of course,  the standard old yogic message about creating 'heat' in the body. No doubt it has an effect, particularly in those who eat grossly, i.e.,  egg-McMuffins, bacon and eggs for breakfast, burger for lunch, steak for dinner, and so on - who are toxic - and also especially toxic from repetitive lustful thoughts and entertainment. But, once again, a few pasture-raised eggs, imo, will not do much to make a spiritually inclined person lustful. Maybe it is the quantity of food pressing on the lower bodily organs which stimulates those drives! And perhaps more for young people. Older questers  have by and large had lust burnt out of them by now, if any kind of real sadhana has been done at all. And, with all of our limitations, keeping body and mind sound is more important at this stage than living up to a standard of righteousness to the 'nth' degree, again in my opinion. Some people for the sake of their mental and physical well-being and overall equanimity may need a diet with currently unacceptable items.

     But, we also have to remember that the yogis put garlic and onions in that unsattvic category, too. And personally, I have never found a few onions in my salad to stimulate one lusty thought. Now, for a traditional yogi renunciate doing contemplation 24 hours a day, eating scantily, maybe they did have an influence. For most people, however, onions are blood-purifiers, and garlic are anti-bacterial/anti-viral. Perhaps that, too, is not so necessary if one is on a mostly raw diet.

    'The standard India 'sattvic' diet, imo also,  can be very rajasic and especially tamasic. Anyone who has eaten a lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant knows they want a 2-hour nap after eating that oily, fried concoction of permissable 'sattvic' foods! And even Sant Rajinder Singh confessed to living on many 'grilled cheese sandwiches' for some years to stay within the dietary guidelines when he was making his way in the United States as a student and engineer. Me, too! With all due respect, and I am sure he would agree, that is not particularly sattvic food.

   So certainly a major criteria for 'sattvic-ness' is eating small quantities of such cooked foods. And the concept of what is sattvic in its effect is one requiring serious thought.

   Obeying one's guru one hundred percent has always been a cardinal principle of spirituality. Yet today one can not get away from the need to develop and use his or her own innate intelligence. Commandments as such are relative and subject to change. For example, they have been considering making veganism a rule in Naperville (center for Sant Rajinder Singh). The reasoning, which I am in sympathy with, is because in major industrial countries, the dairy industry, like the meat and poultry business, is cruel and inhumane. Cows must be kept pregnant perpetually in order to give milk, and their calves are taken away and sold for slaughter. So unless one gets his milk from the small-time farmer next door, as many do in India (and where, traditionally, the male cows are allowed to roam freely - instead of being slaughtered as in the western milk industry), one is complicit in this killing. Personally, I have a problem with this whenever I think of eating some yogurt our cheese. In addition, in many industrial operations blood and other substances are actually fed directly to cows! (checkout the animated feature, The Meatrix, and be prepared to be grossed out). Pasteurization [i.e., killing germs by heating, not to be confused with raising animals in fields of grass] and homogenization are also unhealthy practices that denature and make milk unhealthy for a number of reasons, and should be considered by an inquiring person.

   However, many people worldwide are just not adapted to veganism at this stage of their development, and this proposed condition will probably not be required for initiation.

   The topic of fish oil and its importance needs much attention. The push for omega-3 oils has largely been because of the over-proportion of omega-6 oil to omega-3 in the SAD (Standard American Diet of processed and cooked foods, with an overemphasis on carbohydrates, especially grains). Anywhere up to 16:1 in favor of omega-6, instead of an optimum and traditional 2:1 or even 1:1. Even a standard vegetarian diet of cooked food is still imbalanced in this respect. Omega-6 is found in great amounts in processed foods, chips, breads, grains, vegetable oils, cooked grains, and are pro-inflammatory. They are necessary to the body, but not in that amount. Therefore, for anyone eating the SAD or even conventional vegetarian, wild salmon,  grass-fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, grass-fed butter, and fish oils have health benefits (forgetting the issue of karma for now). Omega-3's are basically anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting, etc., so they balance the omega-6's.

    One of the chief arguments often given for the need for omega-3 supplementation from fish is that vegetable sources of omega-3's  (nuts, seeds, many vegetables), are basically in the form of ALA, which are inefficiently converted to the readily usable DHA and EPA, which occur  in fish and krill. However, if one eats  enough raw food (easy to do with a breakfast shake or fresh vegetable juice, and a big salad as one of the daily meals) with the rest a majority of complex carbohydrates, mostly from vegetables and legumes, andplenty of greens, then the balance of omega-6 to omega-3 is much smaller, and the theoretical need for fish oil decreases dramatically. Plus, some have argued that the ALA conversion to DHA and EPA, on an as-needed basis, is sufficient for humans eating in such a way.

   However (there is always a 'however'), some research argues that the bodily conversion of ALA not only steadily decreases with age, and is not efficient enough to satisfy a current species-level deficiency of omega-3's in many people. We today know (or think we know) more about human biology and genetics than previous generations. Many studies have shown that omega-3 oils EPA and DHA are of major importance to the health of the brain and nervous system (30-50% of their fat composition), significantly decrease depression and other mental disorders, anger, aggression, heart disease and cancer. So one may ask, for those in severe imbalance who need it, is it worth the 'karma' of ingesting such a nutrient, perhaps only for a limited period of time, if it dramatically increases the health and equanimity of the precious human form, lessening anger (one of the categories, in fact, of the self-introspection diary) and negative moods, not merely personally but culture-wide, thus increasing the quality not only of life but of spiritual practice? Again, if only for a finite period of time, for rebalancing and healing purposes? This is something to give serious time thinking over. Kirpal may or may not have used the fish oil, but if he did, it does not follow, in my opinion, that we must rationalize that he was a special case, and we may not make that choice also, out of altruistic purposes and not mere appetite. Perhaps he did take it but could not openly recommend out of concern for disturbing the faith of long-time initiates. Think hard and research this matter - without threat of hell or damnation, for such is a childish approach to life.

   If one is living an entirely ascended, yogic life, then perhaps the 'Genesis 1' diet may be more easily taken on. But, on the other hand, if one is on a more integral, incarnational, non-dual path, embracing the descended life also, then additional health factors may need attention, taking into consideration the evolutionary, genetic stage of the human body-mind. This a matter for reason, not puritanical or idealistic concern, but this is solely my opinion.

   Another major nutrient always is B12. Most sources maintain it can only be gotten from animal sources. We can, however, get B12 from nutritional yeast, which works great added to a morning shake, or some algae. Some Japanese monks have reported synthesizing B12 in their gut, even when only eating brown rice and miso. But to be on the safe side a supplement can be taken. Most of the B vitamins in pills come from yeast anyway.

   I now try to eat a moderate amount of plant-based fatty foods (mono-saturated fats from avocados, walnuts, olives. Omega-9's are often overlooked, but, among other things, are important 'mood' nutrients. They are high in cashews. Almonds have more protein, walnuts more omega-3 oil. Saturated fat has been demonized ever since one Ancel Keys declared it so in the 1950's, making everyone switch to margarine and the 'food pyramid' to change to four servings of grains per day as the most important nutrient for man, but as of the 1990's even he declared his finding to be totally false and with no basis whatsoever. Yet the medical establishment ignores the truth and keeps promoting the tired line about how bad fat is for you. So in addition I also eat some raw cheese and grass-fed butter. But not a lot, and one can live well it out it.The truth is that sugar from excess carbohydrates (including especially, since the 1980's, high fructose corn syrup - due to the efforts of the corn lobby) cause obesity, systemic inflammation, and increased risk of almost every major disease. Whole grains and beans/nuts/legumes/seeds are fine in moderate portions, especially if one exercises. Almost anything works if one exercises and eats a bit less! In this way insulin resistance will not develop.

   Many people desiring to go towards more raw will have to slowly adapt from a standard vegetarian diet. Go easy, take responsibility for freedom, and experiment with your own body, for that is how we learn what it needs.

   Some people simply cannot do this regimen, but many can. Try and see. You are the expert. In times of illness or upset cooked food may be more tolerable and require less work for the digestive system than raw. At almost all times, however, simply eating smaller portions of quality food, no matter what the particular form of diet, has perhaps the greatest effect, with the least effort and concern, on one's overall health and energy level. And, in fact, Sant Kirpal wrote about it long ago, and apparently Prophet Mohammed before him:

   "The stomach should remain partly empty. Let half of the stomach be full with food, one fourth with water and let one fourth remain vacant, so that digestion will not be difficult. ..Eat when you really feel hungry, not everytime putting in something. Two meals a day are enough, though you may have a little breakfast in the morning. Sometimes the Masters say that those who would like to progress more should have only one meal a day. Let the stomach remain partly empty. If you put more food in it than can be digested, naturally the things which are not digested will create disease. Eat as much as you can digest. Give some rest to your poor stomach. It takes at least four or five hours to digest anything. If you each too much too often, your stomach will revolt...The servant who is engaged to work 24 hours will revolt...If you take food at 8 am, then 12 am, then 4 pm, then 8 pm, your stomach will have no time to rest...If you eat more than be digested the result is that you cannot sit, you cannot think clearly, you cannot devote time, you feel lazy. So simple living, simple diet and high thinking is what is wanted. You should eat only what is really a necessity. Do not over feed...Once it so happened that Prophet Mohammed had forty followers. One doctor attached himself to them, so that if anyone fell sick, he would give him some medicine. For six months the doctor remained with them but nobody fell ill. Then he came to the Prophet and said, "Well, nobody has fallen sick, so there is no use in my being here." Prophet Mohammed told him, "Well look here, so long as they follow my behests, they will not be ill. I tell them to take one morsel less than they really feel like,not to have a full diet, to eat a little less,so that when they leave the table, they are still a little hungry. I tell them to eat twice a day and during the day they should work hard. They should also do their meditations. if they follow these behests, nobody will fall sick." (Morning Talks, p. 21-22)

   Some health advocates suggest that for maximum fat-burning and other metabolic benefits, one should limit their eating to seven to eight hour period a day. This might be from 11 am to 6 pm. Eating late at night will not only make for sluggish digestion, but, especially if it is a carbohydrate meal - even a carbohydrate snack - will stop the normal fat-burning process which kicks in six hours or so after eating, and also prevent the important rejuvenating release of growth hormone which occurs during sleep. Not eating from 6 or 7 pm until late morning the next day will give the body a full 16 hours 'daily fast' during which maximum fat-burning will continue. We repeat this because it is not just a weight gain issue but relates to many healthy metabolic processes. And it is not complicated, but one simple suggestion backed up by research.

   But sometimes, let's face it, no matter what we do we may get sick, and can only surmise that karma is a factor.

   While we are on the subject, as long as we have covered self-introspection, sex, and diet, the same change of attitude goes for drinking alcohol. The main proscription on this path is against intoxication or even dulling ones consciousness, but if a few sips of wine are said to be good for the heart, and, as some initiates have confessed to me, also relaxes them enough to benefit their meditation - as also appears to be so regarding sex for certain body-mind types, who over the years have chipped away at my puritanical righteousness and preconceived notions of what is the best way to live for all - I say, who will cast the first stone? The great Ibn 'al Arabi had four wives. Two of the highest initiates I know have six and seven kids, and most of the masters have had several. I seriously doubt these people made love only six or seven - or three - times, and for procreation only! What about love and delight? Is incarnation in itself so bad? Or only carnation?! One can make the case against dissipation of subtle life energies (for the male, ojas), but that is a highly individual thing, and also needing adjustment in the interests of domestic harmony among those at different levels. Love must be the prevailing factor.

   Further, again, while it is not my way, in fact I just can't handle it, but are we to condemn or look down upon millions of wine-consuming Frenchmen? Or the respected Swami Chinmayananda, who would have an occasional scotch?! I certainly will not. These are just my personal observations, and, in order to cover myself (!), not a recommendation for anyone else. It is part of everyone's learning, discrimination, and fearless investigation to find out what works and is true for them. After all, who is getting realized? Somebody else? The development of discriminative intelligence is one of the most, if perhaps not the most, important aspect of spiritual maturity. Obedience and devotion is a good start, and can take one far, but that very devotion will eventually demand understanding. What one loves also wants to be known. Fools do not generally get enlightened, and the masters are not fools, but by and large the flower of human intelligence.

   And speaking of food, many of us would-be ascetics at Sawan Ashram found our desire to spend long hours in meditations interrupted by frequent calls to the Master's veranda for parties and food - lots of sweets and goodies, much more than our stomachs desired. As Shivas Irons said in Michael Murphy's book, Golf in the Kingdom, "crazy for God my Master might have been, but a dry and lonely one he never was." In retrospect it was as if in his last year on earth Kirpal was opening the floodgates of grace and freedom for his chelas, if they would but accept his offer.

   In summary, our humble opinion is that it is one's intention that is the most important factor in all discipline. What is the intention behind eating/not eating eggs? In doing/not doing/or modifying the diary? In study? In service? And, even, in meditating? It is said, "All things work to the good for those who love God", but also "To thine own self be true." Let us have a little faith in ourselves, and also trust that God is on our side, supporting that faith. A little less rules and regulations laid down by the gurus the better, perhaps, with a little more more confidence in the basic intelligence of the people deciding, if need be, through experimentation what is best. This is not going to the extreme of “being one's own guru,” so much as a suggestion to counter-balance some of the more austere approaches of times past.

   Sant Mat: Part Four

1. Namkhai Norbu, Dzogchen: the Self Perfected State
1a. Hieromonk Isaac, Elder Paissos of Mount Athos (Chalkidiki, Greece: The Holy Monastery "Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian", 2004/2010), p. 375
1b. Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1987), Vol. 9, Part One, 1.206
1c. Ibid, Vol. 6, Part 2, 2.43
2. from Sayings of Ramakrishna
3. Paul Brunton, The Wisdom of the Overself
3a. St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, trans, E. Allison Peers, 1958, p. 96-97
3b. Ibid, p. 99
4. Abbot Zenkei Shibayama, A Flower Does Not Talk
4a. Shaikh Hakim Moinuddin Chisti, The Book of Sufi Healing (Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1991), p. 37
4b. Kyriacos Markides, Gifts of the Desert (New York: Doubleday, 2005), p. 143
5. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (London: Chatto & Windus, 1950), p. 25, 13-14
6. Kirpal Singh, Spiritual Elixer, p. 27
7. Talks with Ramana Maharshi
7a. Darshan Singh, Streams of Nectar (Naperville, Illinois: SK Publications, 193), p. 153, 171-172
7b. Ram Alexander, Death Must Die, p. 519
8. Kirpal Singh, Godman, p. 156
9. Hubert Benoit, The Supreme Doctrine
9a. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 2, Part One, 3.199
10. Kirpal Singh, Sat Sandesh, August, 1975
10a. Play of Consciousness, SYDA Foundation, 1978, p. 72-94
11. Stephen MacKenna, trans., Enneads, 6.4
12. Kirpal Singh, Sat Sandesh, Feb. 1976
12a. Kirpal Singh, Heart to Heart Talks, Part One, p. 130
12b. Ibid, p. 248-249
12c. Ibid, p. 170
13. Sat Sandesh, Dec. 1975, p. 13
13a. Professor Laxmi Narain, ed., Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Hyderabad: Sri Ramana Kendram, 2007), p. 291
14. Jean-Pierre deCaussade, Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence (Glascow, England: Collins, 1974
15. Daniel Ladinsky, The Subject Tonight Is Love, 1996
16. Coleman Barks, The Essential Rumi, 1995
17. Kirpal Singh, Sat Sandesh,
18. Carl Sagan, Cosmos
18a. Brunton, op. cit., 4.111
18b. In the line descending from Sant Kirpal Singh this has always been said to be one of the major criteria for distinguishing the genuineness of a Master - that he could take responsibility for one's storehouse (sanchit) karmas and also give a contact or initial experience of inner light and sound; in other lineages within Sant Mat this promise is not always given:

   "If some competent person does not take pity on us and unload some of our karmic burden and pull us out of the senses by giving a boost to rise up, then how will we get started on the true path? One Master puts it this way: What attributes has the Guru of the world, if he removes not the karmas? Why take a lion's protection if the jackels continue to threaten? Through the Guru's mercy one rises above the body and sees that one's true self is not the body but is the controller of the body. Only then is one on the way to God-realization." (Kirpal Singh, Sat Sandesh, October 1972)

   So it is argued that one can not concentrate if he doesn't have something to concentrate on, viz., Light and Sound:

   "You see, concentration can be done only when you have something to concentrate upon. When you close your eyes, if you have nothing to see - nothing to stand on - you've got darkness before you. So there you will stay, like a child in a dark room with the door closed...But if he sees something attractive, enchanting, then he will not cry. So there must be something to stand on." (Heart to Heart Talks, Part One, p. 41-42).

   This message is often confusing, with the aspirant expecting the granting of a permanent boost to being establishment at the ajna chakra, rather than the temporary boost at initiation to show that there is something to strive for. This must be clear, or there is disappointment. Until one is so concentrated, however, he can only repeat simran or the mantra until such time as he does see the light, which he then can concentrate on. Similarly with sound - if there is no sound one cannot yet, technically speaking, do surat shabd yoga! And in some branches of Sant Mat it is plainly stated that one first does simran until he gets dhyan/light, and only subsequently the sound. But in the Kirpal lineage both light and sound are promised at initiation, and usually, the initiate does hear some sound thereafter. And, there is also the issue of karmic liquidation to consider. The Master's of Sant Mat speak frequently on this topic. It is part of their job description to 'wind up' one's karmas in the way they feel best. This may even entail years of little inner experience, with much going on beneath the surface. It all depends. But one may take heart that even Sant Darshan Singh's beloved wife, near her time of death, remarked that she was once again hearing the same sound of bells that Kirpal had revealed to her sixty years ago privately while in a garden. So one must wonder what her day to day experience was for all those long years, as far as the sound was concerned. She was certainly no stranger to inner vision. In regards to the sound, Kirpal spoke, commenting on some verses of Guru Amar Das:

   "That upside-down well in the void [interesting use of the term 'void'] contains a lighted lamp, which burns with neither wick nor oil; through its flame the Sound vibrates and issues forth; he hears, whoever enters the samadhi of true knowledge, and none other." Those who go into samadhi or very deep meditation hear the true Sound." (Sat Sandesh, June 1974)

The 'true Sound'? Obviously this must have an inner meaning, because some initiates hear inner sounds frequently in their daily life, without samadhi. As well as see the radiant form of their Guru with open eyes, too.

19. Kirpal Singh, Sat Sandesh, April, 1974
20. Kirpal Singh, Spiritual Elixer, p. 309
21. Kirpal Singh, The Night is a Jungle, p. 33