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Why We Need a New Vision
by Peter Holleran


   "Only now are we able to reap the fruit of seven thousand years of historical philosophy. Only now have we achieved a world-system, a universal doctrine which belongs to no particular place but to the planet....Not one but several minds will be needed to labour at the metaphysical foundation of the twentieth-century structure of philosophy. I can claim the merit only of being among the earliest of these pioneers. There are others yet to appear who will unquestionably do better and more valuable work." (1)

   "Amid such diversity of schools, the bewildered student would do well to pause and study the history of thought before choosing among the many rivals competing for his favour. Amidst such a chaotic welter of ideas, he should look rather for a master key which will reconcile them all than for a satisfying system, because undoubtedly each has its own special contribution to make towards the cause for truth. The key exists and search will find it out."
(1a) - Paul Brunton (PB)

   "I believe deeply that we must find, all of us together, a new spirituality.  This new concept ought to be elaborated alongside the religions in such a way that all people of good will could adhere to it." -  The Dalai Lama

   "Despite the considerable effort great thinkers have made throughout the ages to try to prove the unity of all religions and spiritual schools, the irreconcilable differences that exist between them simply cannot be denied. They are at odds not only in the practices they recommend, but also in their philosophies and interpretations of spiritual discrimination. No one has yet arrived at an interpretation of spiritual evolution that would be universally accepted." - anadi (2)

   We suggest that a primary reason we need a new vision is precisely because a new vision is already in the making! Just as it is said that God will give every soul that which it truly desires, so, too, with humanity. Ever since pioneers like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Paramhansa Yogananda, Sri Ramana Maharshi, PB, and Sri Aurobindo, as well as early movements such as New-Thought, I AM, and Theosophy, and the modern influx of Zen masters, Indian gurus, and Tibetan lamas to the West, the many old teachings have been in the process of restoration, upgrading, and adaptation to the ever-evolving needs and maturity of humanity. Some think it may all happen ‘tomorrow’, but we are in the midst of an unprecedented change that will likely take centuries. PB predicted that in six hundred years a new, simple, global faith would supplant all of the currently existing religions. Yet already world-wide intercommunication on a massive scale is bringing the ancient spiritual heritage of mankind to everyone with access to a computer, and the many doctrines, confusing, contrasting, and often contradictory, are being explored, analyzed, compared and formulated into some kind of consistency by many involved in a great and necessary work.

   In the deepest sense the case might be made that there cannot be a 'new spirituality', as spirit in its most transcendent aspect is beyond time. At that level we can expect that the essence of spirituality will remain the same - perhaps. Yet human comprehension and embodiment of spirit and the spiritual path is part of relative existence and is subject to change and evolution. As there is now a quantum physics, there may evolve a 'quantum spirituality.' It is on this level that we can speak of a new teaching and new 'paths'. The tendency for amalgamation in the realm of spirituality is reaching new levels given the times in which we live when, perhaps more than ever before, we are all to some extent being exposed to the tremendous richness of our planets diverse spiritual traditions and teachers. A great deal of what explorers of 'new spirituality' consider as new is often, to be found already existing in the ancient teachings, true. There is, no doubt, a danger in becoming concerned with innovation and newness for its own sake - one effect of which can be ignoring of devaluing tradition paths rather than mining their great richness and wisdom as a foundation for further development. Why 're-invent the wheel'? one might ask. Yet, amazingly, there remain those who would throw the baby out with the bath water, saying, why bother even retaining the old at all?

   "In these enlightened times we should know better than to read this stuff." - Tony Parsons (3)

   And a quote whose author's name will remain anonymous:

   "Papaji's message is simplicity itself. Nothing to attain anew, only a thin veil to be removed. he is totally revolutionary in this. The traditional paths of seeking the truth all seem so laborious and painstaking...maybe in 10 or 20 years or so or at the moment of death we will realize who we are all along? So why not wake up now! Why waste time? We do not need to "seek" the truth anymore. We have matured beyond complicated rules and rituals, grown out of meditation, prayer and superstition. Mankind has done enough of this. It is clearly time for something totally simple, something that can be grasped equally by all people from all walks of life...After all, we are all consciousness itself, inseparable, undivided. One throbbing beingness! It is time for us to wake up and roar this from the rooftops." (4)

   The late Dennis Waite, in his book, Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita has this to say about the above:

   "This is nonsense. The truth has always been the truth and this was undoubtedly better understood in the past than in this materialistic and egotistical age so that what is said there ought to be valued more, not less...Although the true situation is already the case [i.e., as the Neo-Advaitins say, 'This is It'], the mental preparation and reasoning to undermine our initial belief that this is certainly not it has not taken place...The layers of ignorance have to be uncovered before this can be clearly seen. This is why there remains a need to follow the traditional "path," even in today's climate of supposedly superior understanding and fast-track capability." (5)

   To which we mostly concur - but with some reservations, mainly in regards to the traditional 'requirements' held out as necessary to be long-cultivated before and along with the investigation of consciousness. Breakthroughs are occuring in all fields - why not in that of our own being? Therefore, one might also ask, may not 5000 years of tradition be wrong, at least in certain ways? After all, all realizations held out as the goal are not the same, neither are all methodologies to get there. What if the very goal is erroneously conceived, based on out-of-date hierarchical and/or feudal structures inherited from milenia untold? No doubt, the above quotes are full of such naivete, buzz-words, and spiritual slogans it would take another article to fully discuss. Here is the problem. The spiritual life is hard - or has been traditionally conceived to be hard. It is not the fault of the path, they say, it is the 'fault' of samsara. It is a complex, difficult labyrinth, and it takes time and effort and grace to be liberated from it - not that we are going anywhere! So, a part of all of us rebels against this truth, and has our tantrums, dismayed that it is so hard. And so we have a crop of teachers in every generation that are happy to tell us that they have discovered something unknown before, a loop hole, and that it is actually very easy. They appeal to the part of us that is tired, in despair, and frustrated. Wouldn't it be nice.

   On the other hand, a part of many of us does not 'rebel' against this truth, but rebels against whether or not it is, in fact, true for twenty-first century humanity. How comforting is it to believe that not one in a billion is capable of getting liberated within the next hundred lifetimes? The human heart is longing to be met and allowed to come forth in its uniqueness, to not be made wrong, a mistake, a sin, which if we could only succeed at disidentifying with we could merge with the absolute whatever, or dissociate from where we conceive of our bondage. But are we not starting from a base of preconceived assumptions, and therefore governed by them from the beginning. Is a long struggle with our 'lower' self, 'our human self', a given, or is more acceptance, or permission of basic human limitation in itself, part of the 'way in' to our true Being? So many traditional paths start from or reinforce the very bondage they are supposed to free us from - the will full effort of an assumed separate seeker. Even the attempt not to seek is a form of this willful seeking, and the very schools who teach 'acceptance' often mean that only insofar as it leads one to be free of that which it purports to accept! The passage through the helplessness of all seeking remains to be allowed. But it cannot be so allowed unless and until there are no more options. Therefore, for many and for perhaps along time the traditional paths may serve a paradoxical purpose: to make one tire of such willfull effort to exclusively transcend or bypass the human condition in favor of that 'spirit in the sky' - or a formless static infinite awareness behind the conditional form. And for others, new forms of spiritual ways may emerge to make obsolete the old superhuman efforts begun in ignorance and unclarity of what they are meant to achieve. Then the real you may come forward, and perhaps for the first time in history. But now we are getting ahead of ourselves and beyond the scope of this paper, and can hear the cries, "are you advocating abandonment of all self- discipline and effort? Dare you criticize thousands of years of good teachings that have served the liberation of thousands - er hundreds - or, perhaps just a handful of great adepts?" We plead guilty to these charges to a degree, but will leave the reader at this point to feel into his condition, as anything more we will say along these lines will no doubt only be acceptable, or find receptivity, in those who have despaired of their supreme toils towards freedom in a most fundamental way. We only add a notion introduced by Saniel Bonder, that the study of 'comparative evolutionary spirituality' will soon supplant the already dated 'study of comparative religions'.

   Returning to our previous themes, there is no denying that two of the important things for our time, both coming out of the democratic West, is the positive affirmation of the inherent divine selfhood of the individual, as well as the emergence of new forms of wisdom-teaching and practice. They, however, must be balanced with the equally important one of becoming familiar with the collected wisdom inherited through the sacrifices of so many great souls of the past. Self-reliance, as Emerson said, is a supremely important quality, but so is the complementary one of making the best use of what the sages have brought to us through centuries of blood-sweat, and tears. How to even understand what we are experiencing, and at the same time overcome provincialism, without at least a modicum of verification from the collective wisdom and teachers of the human race? Yet as Anthony Damiani said:

   "There's a whole new civilization coming out, and we're in the throes of its birth. And in that agony and in that turmoil we're going to have to forge a philosophy which is going to be representative of us and not of some people who lived five thousand years ago." (6)


   "Plotinus even delivers a warning, and he says [in The Enneads] that we must TEACH OUR SOULS....So right there he's warning us that we must have the correct doctrine, or we will misunderstand the experiences that we have...If you can ask an intelligent question, that shows that you already understand. To formulate a question precisely is already quite a feat of knowledge." (7)

   For instance, leaving out the religious level of simple beliefs, rites and rituals, which more often than not have been warring, brother against brother, in spite of the fact that each religion is part of the multi-faceted diamond of Truth, the more esoteric spiritual teachings themselves also vary greatly, and, as much as many would like to claim, they do not all say the same thing. Despite Ramakrishna's ecumenical saying,"as many faiths, as many paths, all leading to God," radical in its day, this is now being argued as not necessarily true. Even the oft-quoted 'God is within you' is not universally held! Some say 'go within', yet some say 'the Divine descends'; some say 'go up', others, 'go down', while yet still others maintain that there is 'nothing to be attained'. Some say the body-mind needs transformation, others say it doesn't, being nothing but a thought. Some have it both ways, saying that once you know it is just a thought, then a greater divine transfiguration begins. Some say the ego doesn't exist, others that it must be killed, and still others that it must be embraced. Many talk about coming into body, practicing an 'integral' path, or healing the 'spirit-matter split' - using new language suggesting that such a thing has never been done before. Is there any way to make sense out of all of these views? That is the task of our generation and many generations to come. Meanwhile, know that there have always been many great ones working both 'in the trenches' and behind the scenes to assist us in our endeavor. As PB wrote:

   "Whatever were the motives which dictated the exclusive reservation of ultimate wisdom in former centuries and the extraordinary precautions which were taken to keep it from the larger world, we must now reckon on the dominant fact that humanity lives today in a cultural environment which has changed tremendously. The old ideas have lost their weight among educated folk - except for individuals here and there - and this general decay has passed by reflex action among the masses, albeit to a lesser extant. Whether in religion or science, politics or society, economics or ethics, the story of prodigious storm which has shaken the thoughts of men to their foundations is the same. The time indeed is transitional. In this momentous period when the ethical fate of mankind is at stake because the religious sanctions of morality have broken down, it is essential that something should arise to take their place. This is the supreme and significant fact which has forced the hands of those who hold this wisdom in their possession, which has compelled them to begin this historically unique disclosure of it, and which illustrates the saying that the night is darkest just before dawn. This is the dangerous situation which broke down an age-old policy and necessitated a new one whose sublime consequences to future generations we can now but dimly visage." (8)

   Disregarding the possibility of vastly earlier cycles of time, with Golden Ages, and such as depicted in legend and mythology, there has been a fairly consistent progressive development of spirituality in historical terms. This has been outlined in great detail by philosopher Ken Wilber and others. In the remote past we basically had only forms of shamanism, which at its best, sensed an underlying unity with nature and cosmos, but also tended to be fairly dualistic. Human individuality was still submerged in a semi-conscious union with nature. Then, at least five thousand years ago, in Vedic India, a new philosophical spirit arose that was based more in mind. It was also part of a global transition from a matriarchal culture to a patriarchal one. This seeked to uncover a pure, underlying essence behind or 'above' everything, and was pursued yogically as a process of inversion, ultimately internal samadhi. Less mature forms of this included extreme asceticism and world negation. Then, around the time of the Buddha (and not only in India, but China (Lao Tse) and elsewhere), the trend began to reintegrate this discovery of a transcendent reality behind everything into our human nature and lives. The first millenium A.D. ushered in the advent of Christ, a turning point that recognized the incarnation of the divine in life and an increasing emphasis on a vision that considered it to be deeper to see the spirit in everything, and, also, the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, with the following of a middle path between extremes, the 'emptiness' teachings of Nagarjuna, the advaita of Sankara, and various tantric paths (not only Buddhist and Hindu, but similar developments elsewhere), where there was a profound shift towards integration with the body, desire, sexuality, emotion, nature and the feminine. All of these were generally nondual traditions actualizing further expressions of the implications of nondual realization. Modern emergent spirituality will take this another step, but it is still essentially the working out of a global 'satori' that happened a long time ago! The early stages of this emergent vision thus reveal a nondual core, but were still approached in a dualistic context, because of cultural isolation and the dominance of mainstream religions. And by the sixth century A.D. the cross-fertilization of higher teachings from Asia to the Near East was on the wane, and largely forgotten there, and in the West, generally until the nineteenth century.

   The larger implications of what nondualism really means, therefore, began when spirituality started to realize this nonduality within human existence and nature, rather than negating it to seek a purely transcendent form of spirit. To some extent the evolutionary progression of Buddhism itself from Hinayana to Mahayana to Vajrayana mirrored these three proto-nondual stages, although much more integration will take place as cross-cultural pollination continues and also as less 'monarchical' and feudalistic' new forms emerge in the West and eventually the globe.

   The integration of a more complete understanding in all teachings is ongoing today, and the need even for the historically developed progression of a two-stage model of first inversion and then reintegration with the world is being seen by some as no longer entirely necessary in its more extreme forms. PB wrote:

   "Chandrakirti, a Mahayana Buddhist guru, said,"We teach the illusion of existence only as antidote to the obstinate belief of common mankind in the existence of this world"...The real truth is that both world and self exists in consciousness, that they are nothing else than Consciousness itself." (9)

   The name of the game for today is 'incarnational spirituality', a form, in essence, non-dualistic, that honors Being in all its forms with no need to escape the gravitational field of the earth, so to speak, into brittle asceticism or avoidance, or other dissociative forms of spirituality.

   Thus, the roots of what is unfolding today were there before, in each religion and spiritual teaching, although not worked out culturally to its highest degree. The something new that is happening today is, to some extent, largely a cultural event; it is not that the great traditions were wrong or totally incomplete. They just were not widely available to the masses, nor was their essence clarified except for a very few. What is new is that more people are figuring out what this all means and working slowing towards making sense of all of the distinctions, a process that will further integrate humanity and transform culture and civilization. This new context helps us to penetrate more deeply into the universal essence of spirituality, beyond the secondary forms of culture and tradition, and to synthesize a more comprehensive vision that meets the needs of our times. For instance, the principle of nonduality emerged over two thousand years ago, but it continues to unfold in more comprehensive ways. There have been deeply, integrally, tantrically, nondually realized individuals in the past, so the basic realization is not itself new. But since the essential view of traditional religion and culture has not been of this type, the core spiritual vision of most civilizations has remained dualistic, emphasizing splits between God and Creation, Spirit and Matter, inner and outer, male and female, humanity and nature. The Buddha named his son Rahula, meaning 'hindrance', perhaps itself a telling example of an increasingly obsolete renunciate, and even life-negative, model.

   We now also have the situation where if a person has been involved in some of the older, less nondual forms in this or recent lives, and then has insights or encounters a teaching that seems more nondual, he might tend to think that this is a new realization. Even Sri Aurobindo started to acknowledge towards the end of his life that what he and the Mother had discovered wasn't new as an individual realization, but would be new as a collective expression. That seems closer to the truth, notwithstanding the fact that his version of such a realization may not even have been the most developed version compared to others that had already been around for a long time. So, in many cases, some historical practitioners and traditions have already more or less addressed these things. It is not particularly new. Yet, for other lineages and teachings it certainly is 'new' - not in the total collection of world spirituality, but to them. So it is legitimate to notice and identify these differences, and make changes to align them to what has already been revealed. Some newer teachers spend much time declaring what is radically original about what they are saying, but is there really a new realization of spirituality, or is it mostly integrating a long-existing understanding more broadly within humanity at large? The latter is most likely the case, but that is still no insignificant task. The realization may be much the same, but its articulation is evolving and such a development is necessary as the intelligence of mankind evolves its understanding.

   Yet, our task is to distill what really is true, and what really works, and not to burden humanity with forms and practices that are not the most effective anymore. We cannot move back to what was in vogue five thousand, five hundred, or even thirty or fifty years ago. The spiritual map is changing rapidly. It seems that many people incarnating now and in recent years do not require, to a significant degree, the amount of tangential preparation that seekers did even in the 1960's or 1970's. So not only is a new vision apropo, but a new dharma or teaching as well. And not a new dharma that is the product of one mind, the dispensation of one great individual or avatar, but of a growing collective of awakened beings democratically working together, something that has never been done before.

   Certainly, we stand on the shoulders of many great beings of the past. Every truly genuine tradition has made its contribution to the total world spiritual dharma: Mahayana Buddhism, for instance, with the doctrine of 'emptiness' and that of the bodhisattva ideal; Sant Mat, with the importance and value of the Shabda-Brahman or eternal sound and the grace of the Satguru; Sufism as the path of the Heart; Hinduism for its cosmologies and yogas, Christianity with its emphasis on love and sacrifice and the descent of the Logos, Dzogchen and Advaita with their pointing to the ever-present non-dual primordial state, Tantrism for its seamless unity of the Unmanifest-Manifest, Spirit and Body. No doubt there is truth in all of the existing views, but so far no one tradition has embraced all of them in a comprehensive doctrine.

   However, there is much brush to clear up. There still remain arguments within each tradition. For example, there are three main forms of Vedanta: advaita, vashistadvata, and dvaita - even dvaita-advaita, each very different. What if, however, all four are simultaneously correct and inseparable in a higher synthesis? What if truth is beyond duality and non-duality? For instance, many advaitic or nondual paths say that the One is unpartable or divisible, yet they often say that each 'part' that gets enlightened to its oneness with the whole, increases the consciousness of the whole, or, alternately, each 'part' that is enlightened, being the whole, wants to come back for all 'parts' of itself. Somewhere in here clarification would surely be useful]. Similarly, people are still arguing over what Christ taught: some say non-dualism, others say Surat Shabd Yoga, or Dzogchen, still others Kriya Yoga. Further, did Buddha actually mean there was absolutely no 'individual' self? Is the Absolute, or the 'Self', so absolute that there are no eternal, albeit paradoxical distinctions within it, as Plato and Plotinus argued to the contrary?

   There are three ways of looking at this. One, there are different approaches both for different people, and at different times in their development; two, there is an life-positive emergent spirituality that David Spangler first mentioned years ago emphasizing 'personhood and incarnation'; and three, there is a truth that includes and transcends all of these perspectives. All of this is what we suggest and speculate may gradually take shape over time, perhaps much time.

   There have been many signs and attempts to revamp the existing terminologies. The teachings may be the same, but the expressions are changing. One of the first to do so was PB, ground-breaking researcher and disseminator of a mass of the world’s wisdom teaching into a new, accessible form which he chose to be called by the name 'Philosophy' (10), raised to its former greatness (meaning 'the love, investigation - and articulation - of truth,' or in Sanskrit, Dars'anam, or Vicara Sastram, 'the thinking consideration and inquiry into the fundamental nature of things'), with his use of other concepts such as Mentalism, Overself, World-Mind, and Mind, excluding nothing, including a divine individuality within the whole. He wrote:

   "Because Mind has always and universally existed so has its associated aspect, Energy, or Life-Force. And because Mind connotes meaning and creates purpose, my life has a meaning and a purpose linked with the Universe's; it is neither empty nor alone."

   "One need not seek out those unscalable heights for which the saints thirst, however much the purification of thought, feeling and deed the philosophers welcome. Whoever understands Mentalism will also understand why."

   "The oriental notion that escape from life is escape from bondage is an opinion which admittedly has its point, but is not cared for in the mentalist outlook. Instead, a divine order, a meaning-purpose, replaces it."

   While having recognized that there is an Energy aspect of Mind, which would not preclude an Iswara or Creator-God aspect of the Absolute - with all that that implies, including a multi-levelled cosmos with a creative vibratory emanation, or 'Om', "Shabd', Logos, or Divine Idea as variously named in different traditions - he calls us back to an equally fundamental ancient perspective, that all arises in and as the One Mind or Being-Consciousness:

   "The Theosophic doctrine that the physical world is an externalization of an astral plane or even the higher Platonic doctrine that it crystalizes a world of divine ideation is given to beginners as a help to give them a crude grasp, a first step towards the theory that the world is an idea, until they are mentally developed. When their mind is mature they are then told to discard the astral plane theory and told the pure truth that all existence is idea...He may now begin to realize that all the theosophical teachings (11) about the seven principles of man, the five tattvas (cosmic forces), and prakriti (root matter) are teachings given to beginners who are unable to grasp the great truth that all these are merely ideas and that Mind alone is what he should seek to know. H.P. Blavatsky gave these teachings because she knew that the nineteenth century West was not metaphysically minded but rather scientifically inclined and science in those days was horribly materialistic. What else could she do but give out these lower grade teachings? She herself writes in one of her books that she has given only three or four turns of the key to the lock of universal mystery. The time has come in the mid-twentieth century to give the remaining turns which will make known the higher philosophical truth for which mankind is now better prepared." (12)

   This entails another way of perceiving things, but doesn't mean that the relative experiential aspects of reality are to be completely or summarily dismissed, only better understood. Perhaps in this quote PB went a bit too far. For in spite of the above, he also taught an emanationist theory of creation often much like the theosophical view, with the addition of a nonduality not-yet fleshed out in the latter school when first introduced, thus paradoxically pointing us towards a more complete actualization of non-duality from within relativity; that is to say, the inclusion of both 'siva' (awareness) and 'shakti' (energy) teachings as two aspects of a greater whole. All great traditions, for instance, including Sant Mat, Kriya Yoga, Dzogchen, Vajrayana Buddhism, and even Vedanta, emphasize both of these aspects, as well as (at least) a two-stage process of basic realization. One, where the practitioner purifies the gross and subtle instruments, to break fixation with body and world-identification, both to better be able to contemplate the dimension(s) of consciousness itself, and, ultimately, to be of better capacity to serve humanity, and second - which, as PB reminds us, is more and more to be practiced simultaneously with the first - is the more direct examination of and identification with fundamental, absolute truth that includes everything that may have been negated in the first phase. [For a modern applicant, 'preparation' may not be merely the willful cultivation of disciplines, but perhaps the more therapeutic healing of wounds, to 'set the house (of the body-mind) at rest']. In Tibetan Buddhism, the preliminaries of cultivation of the virtues, as well as forms of yoga, are the basis, actual or implied, for the 'mind-only' teachings. Similarly, in Hinduism, Patanjali (yoga) and Sankara (knowledge) cannot be placed in water-tight compartments, but are complementary aspects of one ancient path. It is no surprise, then, that greats like Sankara and Nagarjuna were not just sages but adepts at yogi and tantra as well. People are thus also surprised to hear that Paramhansa Yogananda did not just teach experiential Kriya yoga, but all the forms of yoga, as well as Vedantic self-inquiry and the need to work on eradicating both a false view of the self and a mistaken division between the material and the spiritual. The public and private dissemination of his teachings were different for different people. Seeds were being sown with books like "Autobiography of a Yogi," to a West fascinated by experience. One of his chief early disciples, Sister Gyanamata, however, who practiced yoga but whose path was chiefly that of knowledge, was said by Yogananda himself to have achieved realization through that route and by grace. When she asked him near the end of her life for nirvikalpa samadhi, he told her, "You don't need that. When you reach the palace, why do you want to go into the garden anymore?" (13) He also said, "The simple thought that you are not free keeps you from being free. Samadhi is not something one needs to acquire. One has it already." (14) And it was Yogananda that sent the late Robert Adams to see Ramana Maharshi. Yogananda was an important pioneer who revealed as much of truth as he was able and commissioned to do in his time.

   The so-called 'astral plane theory' PB critiqued in the quote, therefore, was never only an 'astral plane theory', but a complete many-staged emanationist view of which the astral and physical planes of creation were only the last of at least seven stages, all contained within a nondual whole. Thus, we feel PB in his efforts to move the common man beyond limited mysticism into gnana yoga went farther than necessary in this passage in effectively dismissing a multidimensional reality accepted worldwide in one fashion or other by great teachings. Nonduality prevails in all of the planes, yet the planes do exist. Such is the paradox. And in many other passages PB acknowledged such a reality].

   There was also the Cypriote master Daskalos' renovation of esoteric Christianity with the terms 'Autarchy' and 'Be-ness', a Multiplicity-within-Unity, which ('Be-ness'), seemed to be a move on his part away from a triangular trinity and more like a One with and beyond a polarity of Christ-Logos and Holy Spirit, similar to the Hindu Siva-Shakti. There is the term integral 'Holarchy,' reflecting nonduality and a relative hierarchy of 'nested spheres' of intelligences, each higher including the junior, all within complete perfection. There is 'dual non-dualism', 'enlightened duality', and 'beyond duality and nonduality'. There is, in general, an integration of more 'Shiva-like' 'awareness' teachings such as advaita with 'Shakti'-oriented bhakti or yoga paths. The collision of eastern teachers with western students is inevitably causing a new synthesis to evolve, free of all superstitious accretions. This is true of all such interminglings. But this is just the beginnings of something new emerging. All of these, with their new forms of languaging seem to be based on an understanding, not only of the needs of the western psyche (and increasingly a global 'westernized' psyche) - wounded with a lot of shadow material, and and also a greater emphasis on individuation, in which traditional world-denying visions are increasingly inappropriate - but also on a recognition or feeling that man as a composite of Human-Spirit-Consciousness is a paradoxical totality of limitless Being within limitation, and that to some extent that is his fundamental situation, while alive at any rate, regardless of his level of enlightenment. As Anthony Damiani once said, 'when all is said and done, we have to become human.'

   John Welwood writes:

   "There needs to be a dialogue between the traditional Eastern model of liberation and surrender and the Western model of individuation, where individuality is seen to have important value. Conscious discipleship in the West might include the recognition that individuality is not just some flaw or obstacle or resistance to the teachings,but rather that it can be a vehicle for embodying the teachings more fully. If individual development is valued as part of the spiritual path, then it can be transformed and brought to a higher octave...Spiritual teachings always talk about the Absolute - the mystery of the Absolute, the mystery of the Divine. But equally mysterious is the individual person." (15)

   PB had many more things to say on the need for a new, global spiritual vision:

   “Those who have not taken the precaution to study other teachings, other ideas, other experiences, and other revelations, but only the views of their own favoured teacher, may have learned the worst and not the best...Each seer gets hold of some facet of truth and contributes that to the world-stock. None of these teachers tells, or seems able to tell, the whole story. Each gives out all he can - a fragment of it. The hour is at hand when they should be joined together, when a synthesis of truth should be made from all of them...We may fully sympathize with a standpoint and yet we need not hesitate to utter certain criticisms of it. How else can a just view be gotten?”

   "Philosophy criticizes any approach to truth which arrogates to itself the privilege of being the only path to enlightenment. For in practice philosophy makes use of any and every one needed."

   “The old Oriental idea is to be lost in the Infinite. The new Occidental ideal is to be in tune with the Infinite...The teaching is thus both an inheritance from the past and a precursor of the future.”

   “It is perhaps the amplitude and symmetry of the philosophic approach which make it so completely satisfying. For this is the only approach which honours reason and appreciates beauty, cultivates intuition and respects mystical experience, fosters reverence and teaches true prayer, enjoins action and promotes morality. It is the spiritual life fully grown.”

   "Philosophy does not dwell on the subject of nonduality. These are metaphysicians aplenty who will discuss or teach it for those who want to learn or listen. Philosophers neither support nor deny the doctrine. Here they are closer to Buddhism than to Hinduism."

   "The Advaitin who declares that as such he has no point of view, has already adopted one by calling himself an Advaitin and by rejecting every other point of view as being dualistic. A human philosophy is neither dualistic alone nor nondualistic alone."

   “The esoteric meaning of the star is "Philosophic Man," that is, one who has travelled the complete fivefold path and brought its results into proper balance. This path consists of religious veneration, mystical meditation, rational reflection, moral re-education, and altruistic service. The esoteric meaning of the circle, when situated within the very centre of the star, is the Divine Overself-atom within the human heart.”

   Actually, the vision of PB was paradoxically two-fold, absolute and relative. While on earth:

   "We must look for eternity in the present moment now, and not in some far off afterlife. We must seek for infinity here, in this place, and not in a psychic world beyond the physical body."

   And also:

   "We need always remember that all this experience which a human undergoes is relative to time and place and must pass away. To what? To that higher order of the universe where we are with God as higher creatures." (17)

   Some of the newer teachings being released by the ‘custodians of wisdom’ - assuming there are such beings - sound much like PB in their emphasis away from an exclusively 'impersonal' form of awakening such as has been the traditional norm in the East:

   “The time has come. At this point in your history, it is time to gather and integrate the lost parts of yourself. It is time to be the central sun that you are. In reclaiming the power of your own consciousness, you are not simply returning to how things were before you started your journey. You are creating a new reality or level of consciousness altogether. Recognizing your own divinity feels like coming home; it awakens in you old memories of a blissful oneness and harmony you once knew. But now for the first time you will give birth to that sense of oneness purely from your own consciousness, while you are in material reality. You will embody God on earth. You are returning to your divine essence, without giving up your individuality and your material form. This is the miracle of the New Era: to be one and as One, to be a unique and individual consciousness and at the same time to be One with and connected to the whole.” (from The Jeshua Channelings, www.jeshua.net)

   This, plus a message of multidimensionality and ‘quantum spirituality’, is gradually being introduced. Only in the beginning stages, such ideas will become more and more mainstream as time goes by. A ‘Moebius strip’ of identity between ego, personality, Soul, and Being or Spirit will be deeply felt and explored, without preconceived views.

   It is without a doubt that the religions of the world will continue to maintain their separate identities for perhaps some centuries to come. But it is also certain that members of different faiths will gradually come to be more tolerant of each other, then grow to appreciate what other traditions have to offer, assimilating more and more of each other into the other, so that as each matures, becoming more inclusive, more encompassing, until the differences look less and less. This may take thousands of years, but it seems inevitable, especially since it is already happening! On one very important level, the emergence of a new, more comprehensive, modern and planetary spirituality is emerging through a process of integration and cross-fertilization as the various world cultures and spiritualities interrelate. Evolving social and political changes combine with influences from science, philosophy, psychology and other fields to foster a context for deepening and expanding our understanding and expression of the spiritual life.

   For example, people of different ethnicities move to the United States. At first they are intent on maintaining their national identities, but then they gradually assimilate into being citizens, especially later generations, so that they are less rigidly holding to their past. Yogananda mentioned years ago that, according to Sri Yukteswar in The Holy Science, we have been in the ascending phase of the Dwapara Yuga since 1700 A.D., and no longer in the Kali Yuga as commonly presumed, and his mission was to make Self-realization a household word for coming generations, while teaching the oneness of all religions, but especially the teachings of Krishna and Christ. He said that there was a lot of 'cross-incarnation' taking place, with Americans and Europeans taking birth in India, and Indians taking birth in America and Europe. With the world more interconnected than ever before, the whole planet is becoming a big melting pot, so that integration is inevitable, and the world is uniting in a 'Dwapara Yuga consciousness'. (18) This novel theory of the yugas may or may not be true; we may indeed still be in the Kali yuga or dark age, or yugas on the whole may be subject to the factor of consciousness and human intention and not as fixed as they are imagined. People's views of spirituality, however, are maturing to less exoteric, dogmatic, sectarian forms. There is more questioning and experimenting in the personal, subjective realm. Then there is the influence of science and psychology: modern quantum and post-quantum physics, string theory, fractals, holography, chaos theory, transpersonal psychology, positive psychology, integralism, parapsychology research, NDE research, and the like.

   Also, more and more people around the world are choosing not to identify with a specific traditions, but rather to integrate elements from various sources. The world many envision will become a large planetary spiritual university with many departments, strong empowerment of individuality, and of the feminine, as well as a more scientific and investigatory spirit, non-hierarchical, networking, and nondogmatic. Although a university has a common foundation of vision and administration, it has many departments, professors, a creative spirit. The world spiritual community will grow into the same thing over time. More and more people will continue to and increasingly have experiences such as going into higher worlds or dimensions and finding  the leaders of the world religions all to be part of the same community of teachers, gurus, masters and saviours. At the same time there will be fewer divisions or splits between the worldly and the divine, spirit and matter. People will all look back in a thousand years with the perspective that the times we live in now were but the barest beginnings of all of this, and it will seem like the Dark Ages to them.

   Osho (Bhagwan Rajneesh) pre-saged this new earth a quarter of a century before Eckhart Tolle:

   "Meditation and love - this is the ultimate polarity...meditation means the art of being alone, and love means the art of being together. The whole person is one who knows both and who is capable of moving from one to the other as easily as possible."

   "Buddha is half - so is Jesus...Jesus will talk about the kingdom of God and Buddha will start laughing: "What nonsense are you talking? The kingdom of God?" Buddha will just say, "Cessation of the self, disappearance of the self." And Jesus will say, "Disappearance of the self? Cessation of the self? That is committing suicide, the ultimate suicide. What kind of religion is this? Talk about the supreme self!"

   "Humanity needs a total vision now. We have lived with half visions for too long. It was a necessity of the past but now man has come of age...All opposites will melt and become one: East and West, man and woman, matter and consciousness, this world and that world, life and death...Then you will know wholeness. And to know wholeness is the only way to know what is holy."

   "MY MESSAGE IS SIMPLE. MY MESSAGE IS A NEW MAN, HOMO NOVUS. The old concept of man was of either/or, materialist or spiritualist, moral or immoral, sinner or saint. It was based on division, split. It created a schizophrenic humanity. The whole past of humanity has been sick, unhealthy, insane. In three thousand years, five thousand wars have been fought. This is just utterly mad; it is unbelievable. It is stupid, unintelligent, inhuman."

   "The new man will not be either/or - he will be both/and. The new man will be earthy and divine, worldly and otherworldly. The new man will accept his totality and he will live it without any inner division, he will not be split. His god will no be opposed to the devil, his morality will not be opposed to immortality; he will know no opposition. With the new man there will come a new world, because the new man will perceive in a qualitatively different way."

   "The only way to grow is to accept all the good, the bad, the joyful, the sorrowful. Everything that happens to you, you are responsible for. That gives you freedom...Rejoice in this freedom. Rejoice in this great understanding that you are responsible for everything in your life. This will make you what I call an individual. And to become an individual is to know all that is worth knowing, is to experience all that is worth experiencing. To be an individual is to be lberated, is to be enlightened."

   "My conception of the new man is that he will be Zorba the Greek and Gautama the Buddha. The new man will be Zorba the Buddha. He will be sensuous and spiritual - physical, utterly physical, in the body, in the senses, enjoying the body and all that the body makes possible, and still a great consciousness, a great witnessing will be there. He will be Christ and Epicurus together. The old man's ideal was renunciation, the new man's ideal will be rejoicing."

   "The old is so rotten that even with all the support it cannot survive, it is doomed! We can delay, we can go on worshiping the old; that will be just delaying the process. The new is on its way. At the most we can help it come sooner, or we can hinder it and delay its coming. It is good to help it. If it comes sooner, humanity can still have a future, and a great future - a future of freedom, a future of love, a future of joy."

   Despite much of the silliness, immaturity, and delusion that goes under the name "New Age", one cannot deny that something is happening today to a degree that was not capable of happening before. Many people report having visions of what is unfolding in the world right now. The message is that we are in a planetary dark night just before the emergence of the light. It may take a few more centuries to transition, with a great deal of suffering in the meantime. But the nucleus of the new is already making its appearance. There are, however, no illusions of an immediate great change. As PB wrote:

   "No philosopher will go out of his way to deprive others of a faith which is important to their life or destroy their trust in a teaching of a religion which gives them moral support. To do so would be to harm them, and weaken their higher purposes: it would lead directly to cynicism or materialism or despair."

   "The deeper truths of philosophy are idol-smashing, and that reason, among others, has rendered it advisable to keep them hidden way like the most precious gems. To the undeveloped, unprepared mind they are at least disturbing, at most, alarming."

   "If formerly the hidden teaching was kept strictly secret, there were excellent reasons for this prohibition. But today these reasons have lost a part of their validity. Therefore a part of the ban has been broken and some of it revealed, but not the most important part. This latter remains as before, to be communicated only orally and only privately to the tested few."

   Nevertheless, he predicted several decades ago that:

   "A jealously guarded hidden teaching far more advanced and complicated than the present one will be revealed by its custodians before this century closes. But when this does occur, the revelation will only extend and not displace the foundation for it which is given in these pages." (20)

   Well, the end of that century has come and gone, and the reader must decide if such a prediction has come true or not. Certainly it has in part. The mushrooming of teachings on non-duality, on the surface, seems to be the only thing new that fits the bill. Who, for instance, in the 1950's would ever have imagined having someone like Eckhart Tolle on the Oprah show, seen by millions if not billions of viewers? On the other hand, such teachings while perhaps considered by some as more 'advanced', are certainly not more 'complicated' nor 'jealously guarded' than that which PB envisioned in his many works, so perhaps his prediction was a bit premature or tentative. Who can say? We are but in the beginnings of witnessing the birth of something new. So during the difficult phase we are in we all need to sustain and feed the core vision of individual and collective awakening. There must be human and not only super-human 'adepts' and 'avatars', in mutual support. The day of the great Godman, while perhaps never to become obsolete, appears to be in transition to a degree. We are not talking merely of the outright forms of scepticism of such august matters, which have always been with us.

   The Dalai Lama once said that he thought it was good to have all the different traditions present, to suit all the different sorts of people, and that may be the best for right now. It is the traditional advice for one to 'dig in one well' deeply enough if he wants to find water. However, as noted above, he also said, “I believe deeply that we must find, all of us together, a new spirituality.” Sant Kirpal Singh held great importance in bringing all the faiths together, way back in the 1970's, through the World Fellowship of Religions and Human Unity Conferences he inaugurated, and, although that was just the start of what some might see as an ultimately unworkable amalgam, it is not unlikely that something new and holistic will eventually fuse and emerge from their midst. Whatever form it takes will not be a 'top-down' structure, but must be a natural, organic development, with an emphasis on the unique individual, not the collective - as it is already doing. Chogyam Trungpa once remarked that it would be very difficult to start a new tradition. One might say that evolution or the World-Idea itself will more or less have to force its creation. So while the existing traditions have been around for thousands of years, and it is likely that they will still be here in five hundred more, but who really knows - things may speed up faster than one might imagine. A lot of dogmatic craziness is in its death pangs; if we survive global-crisis, then maybe just another few centuries to pull us out of the dark ages. PB writes, in the meantime, on the need for broad investigation of the world's traditions:

   "The unprejudiced study and unbiased comparison of various systems of religions, metaphysics, mysticism, and ethics will be for him valuable parts of philosophic culture. He should be both willing and desirous to understand all of the chief points of view, all the leading variants of doctrine in these systems, but at the same time he will know his own mind and views. Even while he is seeking to know the minds and views of others, he should estimate how limited, how distorted, how falsified, or how large an aspect of truth each represents...Tolerance and mutual accommodation is the way of rue spirituality. There is room in life for the other man's opinion also...Meanwhile, let us set the world an example - and be tolerant." (21)

   At the same time, despite all of the writing by PB on the eventual immergence of a universal philosophical teaching, he was also very clear on the necessity for one to find his own way, that there was a need for many, even wlll-nigh infinite paths to suit the uniqueness of a diversity of aspirants. One who feels he is not capable of the intricacies of sophisticated metaphysical study, for instance, should not be made to feel that a simple devotional path is not available or fruitful for him. People, moreover, are not only at very different stages of evolution, but of many different personality types within those stages, such that no one may say any one path will be suitable for any and all in a given time and place.

   Some contemporary contributors make valid and important points, but still in some ways look towards the past. As David Frawley writes, in "The Need For a New Indic School of Thought":

   “What India needs is the creation of a new Indic school of thought that is dynamic and assertive in the modern global context – one that can challenge Western civilization not merely in regard to the details of history or culture, but also relative to fundamental principles of life, humanity and consciousness. This requires a revival or renaissance in the Indic tradition and its great spiritual systems of Yoga, Vedanta, Buddhism, and Jainism, and also in its political, artistic and scientific traditions. Modern science and technology can arguably be more humanely employed according to Indic or Dharmic values than according to Western religious exclusivity and commercial greed.”

   “The world today needs a critique of "modern civilization" from an Indic or Dharmic perspective, an interpretation of capitalism, socialism, communism, Christianity and Islam from a tradition that is much older, deeper and closer to the spirit in both man and nature. These Western ideologies are failing to address the spiritual needs of humanity and are incapable of creating a world order that transcends dogmatism or exclusivism.”

   “Those of us who are part of the Indic school of thought should emphasize such a greater debate and not get caught in the details of issues already formulated according to the biases of Western civilization. This debate should examine the right structure for society and the real forward direction for history and evolution. We must raise fundamental questions. Is the current Western materialistic view of history valid at all, or are there spiritual forces at work in the world that go beyond all these? Can we understand our history through outer approaches like archaeology, linguistics or genetics, or is a higher consciousness or more intuitive view required as well? Are the records of our ancient sages to be rejected so lightly, whenever we think they do not agree with our views?”

   “The real issue of the Vedas, India's oldest tradition, is not how these texts might fit into the current model of history as promoted by the Western school of thought, tracing the development of civilization through outward material advances. It is how the existence of such an ancient tradition of rishis, knowers of cosmic consciousness, shows a higher spiritual humanity from which we have arisen and whose legacy we can reclaim.”

   Some have warned of a “Hindu fundamentalism” that is every bit as exclusive as any other form of religiosity. Indeed, there are organizations dedicated to such a cause. But even in India this is in the minority, and the clock will not be turned back. The noble Vedic civilization must be appreciated, but it will adapt and emerge in a new form. The best in all of these traditions will survive and the worst, the shadow elements, will be eliminated.

   One way this change may manifest is that first the major religions will each resort to their fundamental, essential, esoteric roots: 'primitive' Christianity, Caballistic Judaism, Sanatana Dharma Hinduism, Sufic Islam, and so forth. The robes, turbans, rites, rituals, adornments may eventually fall away, although they provide continue to provide some traditional color. Ritual worship is fine, and much of the outer splendour and regality allowed by some teachers is only meant to create the sense of the sacredness of the dharma, not for personal enrichment. Sri Nisargadatta himself held daily pujas and chanting, as it directs the mind Godwards when done with feeling and basic understanding of its meaning. It helps sacralize the world. One of the things lacking in modern society, particularly in the West, is the lack of a ritualistic, initiatory culture which older civilizations still possess. Rituals are deeply associated with myths, and like ‘myths’ are complex and multi-layered weaving together heroic deeds and divine miracles, and, through powerful symbols, imprint a set of values on the mind of a people. Ritual becomes inseparable from people’s customs and traditions. The essence is what matters, not the absolute truth, as long as it lives and works in the minds it has shaped. All have fulfilled and still fulfill social, cultural and spiritual functions. Our modern mind cannot easily grasp the role and impact of myths and ritual in ancient or traditional societies, whether Greek or Indian. Today’s societies have been de-ritualized, in the process depopulating our inner worlds. The very word ‘myth’, which originally meant ‘word’ or ‘speech’ in Greek (much like the Sanskrit vak), has come to evoke a web of lies, a concocted fable or a collective delusion. Take the story of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, and the 'fall' of man. It has a deep esoteric significance, but lost in exoteric forms of religion. (23) We needn’t throw all such stories away; it is, rather, necessary to understand, preserve, upgrade, and, where necessary, challenge their true meaning and purpose. Meanwhile the modern consciousness and mentality and its needs are changing, and new, more universal forms will evolve. Exclusive religious and spiritual views, created before global intercommunication and the worldwide spread of knowledge, will be synthesized or eliminated as new, organically emerging teachings take form.

   One example of another problem is in the traditional teaching of the Buddhists (as well as Hindius and Sikhs), that only through the accumulation of infinite merit through eons of time does one get the human form where one can practice the Dharma, attain Self-realization, know God, and that in the lower realms the thought of the Dharma or of accumulating merit or realization would never even arise. Hah! If that were so,  one could never accumulate enough merit to be born in a human form in the first place! Seems like a glaring contradiction. Compare that to what contemporary esoteric Christian mystic and healer Daskalos said:

   "We are not the descendants of the monkeys and the apes. That is an insult against God that Charles Darwin expressed. And I say, we belong to a different Circle of Possibilities and Probabilities (which is the Law in Its Total Wisdom), which we can study." (private talk, 1990)

   He taught that we are man, and will always be man, and there is no threat of falling from the heights and going back through the 'wheel of 84' (the 8,400,000 species that Indian scripture say we have passed through in our existence) if we fail to improve in this life. Nor are the animals necessarily longing to get a man body; it is all beginning to appear to be much more mysterious than that. Some of the greatest teacher from India and Tibet, however, continue to give out such a dreary teaching. A basic problem with traditional systems (religious or otherwise) is that the majority of the teachers, even the most enlightened ones, still just parrot all the doctrines and dogmas they have heard and read. It is not necessarily re-tested in their own experience, and certainly not in a questioning, open-minded way that attempts to be free of the influence of tradition-conditioning. So century after century they just pass on the same stuff. One thing about big 'religions' is that they inevitably pick up so much baggage from people at all different stages of maturity. Some mediocre 'intuitive' can come up with a half-baked idea and spreads it widely, and before you know it, everyone is buying into it because of some book that he wrote, and it all gets bundled together as doctrine, and passed down. Then in future generations even the great masters of the tradition will be taught that as part of the doctrine, and they keep including all the silly stuff along with the great teachings. We badly need to infuse a big dose of a more scientific attitude of greater equanimity towards ideas, more caution, more research (intuitive), group endeavor, peer review, etc. What a change that would make. Even the Dalai Lama said in one of the first books that he wrote in the 1960’s when he was in the early stages of reaching out to Westerners that Tibetan Buddhism was the highest religion on the planet!

   When it comes to that which everyone eventually practices, like insight into virtues and nondualism, they then get to experience it for themselves, so that area of the teachings is presented in a better and more broadly understandable and transferrable way. But in all the other areas, such as cosmology, teachings on realms, karma, human nature, how many births we have, how often, how hard is it to get one, what were we 'doing' before we became human, not so good. So generally, that part of most traditions is still pretty mediocre at best, and full of 'scare stories', or what can be called 'practice motivators for beginners'.

   A basic issue being explored at length is and will continue to be a working towards an integration of the two most basic, and often apparently conflicting, spiritual visions - the 'nondual' and the theistic or 'enlightened dualistic' visions. The synthesis of these two main schools or approaches is an important impetus behind much of my own writing. What, for instance, is the relationship between this ‘Christ-Consciousness’, the Logos, and non-duality? What is the interelationship between meditation and self-inquiry? Should I choose Mahayana Buddhism, or a fast-track route like Dzogchen or advaita? What about the newer tantric or 'direct' paths of self-inquiry? Are they as direct and as non-dual as they seem, or are they more versions of dissociative mind-only 'siva'-oriented approaches that fail to satisfy the needs of modern man? What is essential to communicate is that this is not an either/or matter, and, that there is a natural ordering of stages in the paths. Yet, unfortunately, not only is there already such a natural ordering of stages within most of the major traditions, but there have come to be whole paths made up of one or the other aspect alone. And frequently what happens is, that “one puts off for later what must be done first, or he does first what must be done later,” in the hope of having the ‘best practice,’ forgetting that the best practice is the one which one is actually capable of doing in the present moment. The emerging spirituality must either address these issues or start from scratch, with help from those who are already doing so.

   And, to conclude where we started off, is there also a way for the broken-hearted, the hopeless and helplessly lost, who have despaired of their strenuous and often lengthy efforts to awaken or change by emulating the ancients? We think there is, and it will become more and more important and demonstrated as time goes by.

   Another, rather esoteric problem has always been that even great masters have difficulty translating for us what they 'know' while in their higher self into what they know when in their physical bodies, and are also burdened by their own tradition in terms of what they can or not say, both of these accounting for what oftentimes seems like rather silly ideas within a main body of sound doctrine (24).

   A great learning the 'world sangha' is experiencing in these times is the gradual recognition that there is a significant difference between Self-Realization and the development of relative wisdom. Being a 'true master' or a Sat Guru does not mean relative omniscience, especially in the physical consciousness, which is more veiled than the higher bodies. So even though the physical consciousness of a jivanmukti is much more permeable to the higher planes and deeper realization, it is still more veiled than say the same master in their vijnanamayakosha or anandamayakosha. So the full liberation of an adept, the 'true' nature of their 'mastery', is only true in that they have been reborn fully into the light of a nondual realization that fully eclipses their tendency to act out of self-interest based on dualistic perceptions and, therefore, separative needs. But even this may be mildly tainted by the veils of the lower bodies, but usually, with a full master, not very much at all. But as far as their relative wisdom goes, that is very subject to conditioning from the state of the world at large, human culture at large, the gene pool they incarnated into, their personal karmic history and education, the lineage they may be a part of, and the type of training and practices they received. The relative aspect of an initiate's nature and understanding is a combined product of all these factors interacting with their inner realization. So they are only 'perfect' in their liberation, not in there relative wisdom.

   Recognizing and accepting this fact is a great challenge for modern spiritual humanity, who have for a long time wanted to believe that masters are perfect in all ways. It is a kind of long romance, and the fantasy is fading, and the practical truth is emerging. And masters and disciples both need to adjust themselves to this wiser and more mature understanding of the true nature of the situation. Masters are both profound in their core realization, and human in their relative wisdom. It will take time for the great lineages in the world to adjust to these truths.

   Maybe much time, perhaps as suggested, five hundred years or more. Perhaps for now, what is of first importance is for people to fully understand the truth of the traditions they find themselves in or have chosen. Perhaps the Dalai Lama was right in that the diverse teachings are necessary to suit the diversity of mankind, and there is much food for thought here. Adyashanti has said:

   "There are different streams of infinity, of emptiness. If you become very aware, you can feel the stream of emptiness that certain teachings embody."

   This gives a feel for the similarity but distinct flavor of different paths. As God or Truth is infinite, a many-facetted diamond, teachings have arisen to meet the corresponding human perspectives. Father Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Church, a rich Christian tradition, has expressed this view:

   "Each tradition is unique and things that may appear to be contradictory to human rationality may in fact derive from God's will." (25)

   Sri Aurobindo penned similar thoughts:

   "There are a thousand ways of approaching the Divine and each way has its own experiences which have their own truth and stand really on a basis one in essence but complex in aspects, common to all but not expressed in the same way by all. There is not much use in discussing these variations; the important thing is to follow one's own way well and thoroughly...Each path has its own aim and direction and method, and the truth of each one does not invalidate the truth of the other. The Divine (or if you like, the Self) has many aspects and can be realized in many ways...Each mind can have its own way of approaching the supreme Truth and there is an entrance for each as well as a thousand ways for the journey to it. It is not necessary to believe in the Grace or to recognize a Godhead different from one's higher Self - there are ways of yoga that do not accept these things. Also, for many no form of yoga is necessary - they arrive at some realization by a sort of pressure of the mind or the heart or the will breaking the screen between it and what is at once behind it and its very source." (26)

   So lineages will likely remain to fit these needs. For many people today, however, lineages are a mixed experience. They are often still the repositories of most of the truly great masters and finest teachings, and at the same time they have a lot of baggage, limited understanding and so on. Sometimes something is written by one person that gets incorporated into a teaching and repeated for centuries as if it was inviolable truth. Many modern students, therefore, who wish to benefit by these lineages have to figure out a way to embrace what works, and then set aside what doesn't, and find a way to make their peace with that. But there is also what might be called a 'virus' infecting many lineages, especially some of the biggest ones, where some gurus still argue that only they possess the jagatguru or world teacher, the highest masters, or the only way, and many other provincial views and partial doctrines. it is likely that every sincere seeker can come up with numerous examples of these, and they need not be spelled out here. This sort of thing, somewhat to be expected in the religious sphere, in the spiritual arena must surely die a timely death. Then the great comingling of a new planetary spirituality may be born, in an even more evolved fashion than it once was hundreds of millenia ago (according to ancient legends when the world was as one).

   Already, the message of peace is in the air. The word for the primordial Buddha who is the essence of the Dharmakaya, or Ultimate Reality, the True Nature of all things, is Samantabhadra. Translated that means the "ALL GOOD." Surely, that is the kind of God who is in charge of our world, composed as it is of all things great and small. This is the Blessed Hope the scriptures speak of.


Closing thoughts

   “Truth existed before the churches began to spire their way upwards into the sky, and it will continue to exist after the last academy of philosophy has been battered down. Nothing can still the primal need of it in man. Priesthoods can be exterminated until not one vestige is left in the land; mystic heritages can be broken until they are but dust; philosophical books can be burnt out of existence by culture-hating tyrants, yet this subterranean sense in man which demands the understanding of its own existence will one day rise again with an urgent claim and create a new expression of itself.” - PB (26a)

   “No matter how many traditions you go into and study, you’re going to have to, sooner or later, reason the whole thing out. You’re going to have to do it for yourself. There are no two ways about it. When you understand why even the sages themselves - when they come out of the void - disagree in their statements, you’ll see what I am talking about...In my mind there’s no doubt that something like this could happen: Let us say that you come back in four, five hundred years. There won’t be Vedanta. There won’t be Buddhism. There won’t be Platonism. All these traditional philosophies and religions will have disappeared. Nonetheless, if a person has taught himself to think deeply about these matters and reflect, and has understood them within himself, it won’t matter to him. It won’t matter, because he knows that God can’t be grasped through any graven images, whether it’s a statue made of stone or a statue made of words. He knows that he’s got to find Him within himself, in the impalpable Spirit that is his own mind.” - Anthony Damiani (27)

   Mind and body, one might add. For any such split is no longer tolerable if there is to be peace within and without.

   "The modern student should revere the teachers and study the teachings of antiquity. He will honour the lives and treasure the words of Jesus and Buddha, Krishna and Confucius, Muhammed, Plato, and Plotinus alike. But he should not confine himself to any single one of them alone nor limit himself within any single traditional fold. He must also lift himself out of the past into the present. He must reserve his principal thought, time, and strength for living teachers and contemporary teaching." - PB (28)

   A major problem with our reading of very ancient texts is that they were often written years if not centuries after the founding sage of that teaching passed from this earth. The original teachings were carried on by oral tradition, with all the accumulative alterations and mistakes, mistranslations, and substitutions, consciously or unconsciously, which that entails. Moreover, this was usually done by a class of priests, monks and ascetics, with their own particular worldview. Therefore, much of value in the catechism of foundational Christianity or early Buddhism may not in fact be of direct or immediate value for the modern seeker, without an upgrade with the help of more contemporary enlightened sages.

   And in the meantime, tolerance:

   "Religions are man-made and subject to errors,
   But spiritual paths are taught by Truth-bearers,
   All the Sikh gurus have taught this is true,
   And the Bhagavad Gita supports it too.
   The sayings of Jesus and Buddha and Sri Shankaracharya
   Are expressed in the Koran, the Granth, and the Kabala.
   So don't start comparing and condemning the ways
   That your brothers use to make sense of their days.
   Rejoice they can find one to which they are suited,
   And follow the one that in your heart is rooted."
(29) - Swami Rama


1. Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1987), Vol. 8, 2.144
1a. Ibid, Vol. 5, Part 2, 3.193
2. anadi, book of enlightenment (www.anaditeaching.com, 2011), p. 48
3. Tony Parsons, "The Divine Misconception: Traditional Advaita (Oneness) versus Neo-Advaita", April 2005 (www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/trad_neo/neo_parsons.htm)
4. Paula Marvelly, The Teachers of One: Living Advaita, Conversations on the Nature of Non-duality (Watkins Publishing, 2002)
5. Dennis Waite, Back to the Truth: 5000 Years of Advaita (Winchester, UK, O Books, p. 179, 258
6. Anthony Damiani, Living Wisdom (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, Inc., 1996), p. 55
7. source misplaced
8. Paul Brunton, The Notebooks of Paul Brunton (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1988), Vol. 13, Part 2, 2.8
9. Ibid, Part 4, 5.135

10. “Now genuine wisdom, being in its highest phase the fruit of a transcendental insight, is sublimely dateless and unchangeable. Yet its mode of expression is necessarily dated and may therefore change. Perhaps this pioneering attempt to fill the term "philosophy" with a content which combines ancient tradition with modern innovation will help the few who are sick of intellectual intolerances that masquerade as spiritual insight. Perhaps it may free such broader souls from the need of adopting a separative standpoint with all the frictions, prejudices, egotisms, and hatreds which go with it, and afford them an intellectual basis for practising a profound compassion for all alike. It is as natural for those reared on limited conceptions of life to limit their faith and loyalty to a particular group or a particular area of this planet as it is natural for those reared on philosophic truth to widen their vision and service into world-comprehension and world-fellowship. The philosopher's larger and nobler vision refuses to establish a separate group consciousness for himself and for those who think as he does. Hence he refuses to establish a new cult, a new association, or a new label. To him the oneness of mankind is a fact and not a fable. He is always conscious of the fact that he is a citizen of the world-community. While acknowledging the place and need of lesser loyalties for unphilosophical persons, he cannot outrage truth by confining his own self solely to such loyalties.”

"Why this eagerness to separate ourselves from the rest of mankind and collect into a sect, to wear a new label that proclaims difference and division? The more we believe in the oneness of life, the less we ought to herd ourselves behind barriers. To add a new cult to the existing list is to multiply the causes of human division and thence of human strife. Let those of us who can do so be done with this seeking of ever-new disunity, this fostering of ever-fresh prejudices, and let those who cannot do so keep it at least as an ideal--however remote and however far-off its attainment may seem--for after all it is ultimate direction and not immediate position that matters most. The democratic abolishment of class status and exclusive groups, which will be a distinctive feature of the coming age, should also show itself in the circles of mystical and philosophic students. If they have any superiority over others, let them display it by a superiority of conduct grounded in a diviner consciousness. Nevertheless, with all the best will in the world to refrain from starting a new group, the distinctive character of their conduct and the unique character of their outlook will, of themselves, mark out the followers of such teaching. Therefore whatever metaphysical unity with others may be perceived and whatever inward willingness to identify interests with them may be felt, some kind of practical indication of its goal and outward particularization of its path will necessarily and inescapably arise of their own accord. And I do not know of any better or broader name with which to mark those who pursue this quest than to say that they are students of philosophy."
Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 2, 1.18

11. A brief and colorful inside history of early theosophy.
12. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 3, 3.68, 5.2, 28, 30, 3.3
13. Roy Eugene Davis, Paramahansa Yogananda As I Knew Him (New Delhi, India: Full Circle Publishing, 2006), p. 61
14. Swami Kriyananda (J. Donald Walters), Conversations with Yogananda (Nevada City, California: Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2004), 367
15. John Welwood, in Mariana Caplan, The Guru Question (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc., 2011), p. 321, 326-327
16. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 4, 1.506, 1.508, 1.518; Part 2, 1.1, 1.23, 1.477, 1.478
17. Ibid, Part 1, 4.216, 1.55
18. Kriyananda, op. cit., p. 222-223
19. Osho, Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000), p. 213-216, 165, 217-218
20. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 2, 2.250-251, 174, 64
21. Ibid, Vol. 5, Part 1, 5.4-5
22. David Frawley, "The Need For a New Indic School of Thought"
23. For much more on this see The Idea of Man
24. Scare Tactics
25. Kyriacos Markides, Gifts of the Desert (New York: Doubleday, 2005), p. 115
26. Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Vol. 1 (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, c. 1970 (1983), p. 114-115, 608-609
26a. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 2, 5.262
27. Anthony Damiani, Living Wisdom (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1996), p. 172, 174-175
28. Brunton, op. cit., Vol. 13, Part 2, 3.146
29. Swami Rama, Celestial Song/Gobind Geet: The Dynamic Dialogue Between Guru Gobind Singh and Banda Singh Bahadur (Honesdale, Pennsylvania: Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A., 1986), p. 110