The path of the “middle way” is not a path. It is self-discovery. It is “our” path but not a path.
Followers are not required. If we follow someone else’s path, we are following our understanding, our interpretation of that based on our own unique experiences in life.
There is no interpretation when we pay attention to our own feelings and awareness, as long as those are not framed into a belief system, which only gives greater weight to the “I.”
To discover our limits by going from one extreme into the other, is the basics of knowing about “us.” It is in that discovery when we may find out that our limit is not someone else’s.
Later on, we may become aware that a “limit now may not be tomorrow.”
Then we could assure someone that “we went over our limit. We conquered our limitations.”
I assure you, that it is someone else and not that known “you” who found a limit, who actually did not find a limit.
That is a feature of words and language.
Mark is a decent competitive runner. His personal record for the 5 K is 15 minutes and 30 seconds.
That is his limit.
After a couple of years of training, Mark “improved” his time. Now he can run a 5 K under 15 minutes.
We believe that it is the same Mark “improving himself.”
I assure you that this is not the case.
Our awareness is static. Fixed in a label. The label in this case is “Mark.”
Through language we could make a story always referring back to that label: “Mark.”
Mark is this. Mark is that. Mark is a good runner. Mark is a bad runner. Mark is a decent runner (compared to “me.”)
Do we see how our perception is always static?
Do we realize that Mark’s body, mind and consciousness are always changing, evolving?
Therefore, how can I say that it is the same person?
That is the starting point to become aware of that which we call the “I.”
That “I” becomes the greatest limit there is, for if that “I” did not exist, where is the limit?
If that “I” did not exist, why do we need to find our limits through the “middle path”?
It would be completely unnecessary.
Because there is an “I” there are limits.
To find our limits is to find the extent of that “I.”
When someone says: “I don’t exist.”
Do we label that person as crazy?
Or perhaps, there is some intelligence in that perspective.
Therefore, Who is the “I” that will go to heaven?
Who is the “I” that will die?
Who is the “I” that separates?
When the above is no longer intellectual understanding, then we could perceive the Totality and in that realm, there are no beliefs.
The “I” becomes everything because it is no longer limited by itself.
As our culture has become cluttered with intellectual information, most individuals believe that a “spiritual concept” is to be understood intellectually.
Nothing further from the truth.
Let me give an example.
Sadness. How could we explain what sadness is to a person? Most people have experienced sadness so it does not matter how I define it, there will be an understanding.
Let us pretend that we don’t know what sadness is.
We want to “explain” sadness to little Jimmy. Then, we throw the dictionary blurb at him:
“Sadness is emotional pain associated with, or characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, helplessness and sorrow. An individual experiencing sadness may become quiet or lethargic, and withdraw themselves from others.”
Obviously the words above do not make any sense to little Jimmy, as he has to look up in the dictionary for every word used in the definition. Only that which he has experienced, he will recognize.
Now, try explaining detachment, love, soul consciousness, totality, peace, emptiness to little Jimmy… 🙂
That is why a Ph.D type of dissertation about sadness will not do a thing as far as “inner understanding.” It may be a source of great information with the latest research on sadness but that is about it. Intellectual information.
On the other hand, if “Know-it” the poet; explains sadness to little Jimmy, he will give an analogy.
“Sadness is like being in a bright day, full of sunshine…and deciding to turn your head back, towards your own shadow.
To experience sadness there has to be “someone” (ego) because like a tree facing the sun, that “someone” has its own shadow. Then, there has to be the disposition to look back, to turn the head around away from the light.”
If little Jimmy had the experience of his own shadow and a bright day, he will have an idea of what sadness is. That idea becomes the experience once he experiences sadness for himself. At that point little Jimmy will be sadness. To know is to be.
This is why spirituality is more in tune with poetry than research. It is more in tune with feelings than thinking.
How could you explain the notion of being in control but at the same time, being harmonious?
There are many words used: To be focused. To concentrate on something, etc. Those words bring more definitions but never the idea…
Have you seen the 800 meter champ, David Rudisha from Kenia; run a race?
It seems effortless movement. Balanced. Harmonious and yet fast and powerful. Rudisha maintains his poise, his form even while breaking the world record.
The 800 meters is one of the most “painful” events in track and field, but he is able to keep his poise from beginning to end.
Here the video:
Now, if we are able to “understand” that harmonious control by seeing the example, we could use that in our everyday movements. We could even exercise while keeping that harmonious balance.
Form, style, balance. That is an art in itself.
In Spirituality, we mirror beauty. Every aspect that we could be aware of is an opportunity to “be it” again. It is a matter of recognition.
That is how we “learn.” We just recognize it, if our awareness is “on.” Otherwise, we could be lost in the world of definitions, concepts and logic, the world of meaningless words.
As long as there is a created personality, there will be fear at different levels.
Fear of what?
Fear of death. Fear of losing a job, fear of losing a “loved one,” fear to be dismissed by the religious group, fear to be left alone, fear of people, fear of saying what is in your heart, fear of the system, fear of the tradition, fear of God, fear of the Devil, fear of life, fear of darkness, fear of ourselves…
All of those fears have the common denominator of our idea of “losing something.”
That something is part of the personality, the created ego which does not realize or does not want to see that everything changes and that nothing remains the same.
We believe that our thoughts, our ideas about something have to be the “same,” by doing that we are blinding ourselves from the “reality” of change.
The runner who wakes up everyday early in the morning at 4:30 AM to run, no matter what; is viewed as an “example to follow.” “Look, he is amazing. He wakes up everyday at 4:30 to run, that is why he looks so slim and fit. I should be like him or “you” should be like him.”
We may not realize that anything which is done without “higher” consciousness tends to become a ritual, something more important than life itself, something which a person cannot live without; that is that “good ritual,” becomes a source of dependency; a new “drug” to keep someone high .
The fact that someone wakes up everyday at 4:30 to run should not be any source of amazement. Is that person enjoying that run? Is that person conscious of what he is doing during the time that he is out there running? What are his ulterior motives to do that?
For some is to “get it over before life gets in between.” For some “ to beat John in the next race, “I” need to train harder and longer.” For others, “to keep their weight down so they can enjoy eating.” Yet for some, the enjoyment of telling people what they do early in the morning, so they feel better about themselves.
All of the above only creates fear in the person. The reality of aging will come by and with that a “forced” change which means suffering. That “achievement” means nothing without enjoyment and gratefulness. At that point we become a “has been.” 🙂
If we are not realizing our own obsessive compulsive behaviors, we cannot enjoy life. All we are doing is feeding that illusory personality, giving that “ghost” life.
As we “work” (realize/understand) with all of our fears, then the possibility to discover emptiness appears; and with that emptiness of personality comes the wholesomeness of life.
Devotion is one of those practices which are least understood in Western countries. As a matter of fact, the most “advance” the country, the least devotion will be seen unless there is an Eastern religious practice going, devotion as such is misunderstood, even by the ones practicing it.
At one time, I had the opportunity to see “Westerners renunciates” making a line to kiss the feet of someone considered a “Spiritual evolved” person.
It almost looked as “something mechanical,” something to do for a “protocol,” rather than the feeling of reverence or love. The action is just a “way” to express but behind that outward symbol, lies the feeling.
Whenever I visit India or Peru, I can see devotion from a far different perspective. It is that “blind love,” that sort of strong need to relate with that which is seen as holy or higher which is usually represented by a human being.
The vision however, is to be related with God or a Divine power through a human being. Kissing the feet of someone considered to be “holy” then, it is not just a “protocol” but an honor. This is a different perspective on the same activity.
How is that related with Spirituality?
It is fundamental to have that love. Without that love or that devotion, in us; our spiritual practices; whatever they may be, will be just another “job” something “mechanical,” something which will not bring much transformation in the self, for transformation implies love in one way or another.
In Spirituality, we see that love for something considered “higher,” as devotion. That devotion many times is just “outwardly” mechanical such as to say the name of a person, God, etc… There are no feelings, just protocol.
What are the typical sources of “that” love?
Love for God is the first one and most popular one. That is the love for that “someone” who is the highest. Our life becomes this awareness. That “relationship” could be forged through a “devotional practice,” or a prayer or meditation, etc. There has to be a way to relate in however way we perceive God is. The perceptions differ, but the feelings are important.
At the same time there is that love for something which does not have that “hierarchy,” as a person or someone but as the experience itself of awe and inspiration, that is Nature, for example. There is no person, no form in particular but the appreciation of beauty and the splendor of being part of it.
There is that love through “emptiness” as well for some, through the recognition of wholesomeness with the Universe; in them that love is usually known as “compassion,” which is that love for all.
Without this “compassion,” there is no way to connect with the rest, there is no communion with the Universe.
Therefore, in every spiritual or religious path, there is a need for love. That love for our own spiritual practices to connect with the Guru, God, saints, deities, Nature, etc; as a sure way to surrender that “ego” which is “proud” of being “itself,” and which needs a certain “status.”
In the “normal” world, we have seen that need to “love,” through the romantic scene of finding that “special one.” It is supposed to be a relationship of “equals,” in the best human relationships, nevertheless; many times we find that for one partner to be the center of attention is not unusual, and that becomes unhealthy although accepted. In this type of “give and take” there is no chance for that “higher love” to arise.
In the absence of something to “accomplish,” “to complete,” or something to “become,” there is the enjoyment of “doing” something for the sake of doing it. The “ulterior motive” is the one who kills the expression.
Even in something such as running (Which I understand and have experienced its beauty,) there is sheer enjoyment of simplicity in movement and the opportunity to feel how the body is capable of flowing in effortless, economical movement. That enjoyment could be “killed” when there is the ulterior motive to “beat John in the next race” as “my” goal.
Then, I am “using” running for this “goal,” that is to “show John who I am.” Many will discuss this point. They will say that they “enjoy to compete.” I would correct that, to “you enjoy to show off what you are capable of.” That is ego in action, transformed with the word “good.” To compete is good…. The world depends on it.. 🙂
Enjoyment is without goal. Just like devotion.
When there is no “goal,” flowing happens, transformation happens as long as there is love.
How deep is your love?
How many miles do you have to run
to find that special one?
Sweat, pant, stop and run
til the last breath
of your lungs
Love is like a whisper
A silent shy word, a chime
in the marathon of time
That love starts in a forgotten path
of a muddy trail surrounded by
tick-tocks of a fiery clock in wrath
moving aimless without a running high
Gold, silver or bronze
what is the proof
of thy love?
the proof is to let you be
for you are better free
and single without me
The heart opens into a high gap
when seeing our many miles apart
but every finish becomes a start
That is our victory lap!