Reflection on the first online session

Yesterday we had our first online session. It was nice to be able to see faces and hear voices, rather than just go by text on a screen. It felt like having a couple friends over, sitting on the sofa, and having a chat. I hope you’ll join us next time.

One of the things we talked about is that in the field of spirituality, there’s often an undercurrent of “I need to be like that person.” It’s more than an undercurrent, actually. Sometimes it can become a dominant theme. It’s important to remember that what we are is what we are. What I mean is that while our awareness of our nature and the nature of the world (the two are not fundamentally different) can evolve, what we are does not and cannot deepen. The transformation that people talk about is not in what we are, but rather in what we experience of what we are.

For example, ice is essentially water, even when it’s in solid form as ice. Ice can melt (transform), and as it does, it can recognize that it was water all along, but even if it doesn’t melt, it’s still water. The analogy here is that what you are is consciousness itself—it doesn’t matter whether somebody is considered tall, short, intelligent, spiritually advanced or not advanced. None of that changes what you are. The only difference is that the subtler the mind is, the more its nature is recognized, and therefore that appreciation and all the things that come along with it (such as peace and all the other things you’ve heard about) are experienced.

This understanding can be helpful because every human being in this society has received messages about how we are not good enough, starting from the time we are children. It usually doesn’t happen intentionally (though that too happens, unfortunately), but generally adults pass on what they subconsciously feel to children. The constant marketing telling us how we need to get something to be better is also a big factor.

Spirituality can actually reinforce that feeling of being less than someone else because it seems like there is somebody spiritually advanced and someone who is not. The wisdom traditions around the world heap praise on the enlightened, and in comparison, the “unenlightened” then appear like some kind of lower class. This general picture that is painted is actually a tool—a way to indicate a goal or a progression in experience, not a fundamental difference.

No matter what field we are talking about, having a goal or target can help. It helps to raise and sustain the vision. It is no different in spirituality. If we ask those people we call “masters” what they see, they will say, “There is no fundamental difference between you and me.” In other words, being advanced is recognizing that no amount of action, spiritual or otherwise, can change your essential nature.

Your nature is pristine and perfect—there is no doubt about it. What changes is our experience of our nature, and that’s what makes the experience of a lifetime possible. The narrowing gap between our experience of what we are and what we already are is the journey of human growth and evolution.

A lot of this growth is spontaneous. It takes root of its own accord. What we can do is facilitate this by accepting our personalities in their imperfect nature. That acceptance allows a tremendous relaxation in the system, because for decades we have been taught to fight ourselves and be better. With that relaxation, our internal resources become more available and we can use those resources to take further actions that help us settle into ourselves—these are the traditional practices of meditation, mindfulness, journaling, etc, which are best used to help us see ourselves, not better ourselves. The resulting insights further clarify the mind and make it subtler. All this together prepares the soil for nature to take its course.

And none of it changes what you already are.

Questions, comments? Join our discussion group and post.

Register for the next session on July 17 at 8:30pm EST. I hope to make books available within the next week so that you will receive yours before the next session. We can then use the intro and first chapter as a starting point for reflection. (Please note that you will need to register each time you attend. The link to join the meeting is updated with each registration.)

Love and gratitude,

Anoop