Note: For the Original
Internet Lessons with additions,
For the Expanded and Interactive Internet Lessons, AYP Online Books,
Audiobooks and more, see AYP Plus.
A Journey from Here to Here (Audio)
AYP Plus Additions:
348.1 - Overcoming
Attachment to Spiritual Experiences (Audio)
July 16, 2009
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
Spiritual life is often a paradox. Sometimes the paradox is expressed in the
teachings themselves. We are told to relinquish our desires, while at the
same time to hunger and thirst for the divine. We are told to engage in
action, even as we are advised to release our attachment to the fruits of
action. We are entreated to be in
the world but not of the world.
Some may even advise us to forget about the world altogether, abiding only
in the Self.
But still we have to get up in the morning.
When these kinds of teachings are taken at face value, there can be
confusion, or obsessive behavior toward one extreme or the other that can
retard our spiritual progress rather than enhance it. These teachings may be
accurate within the context of the lives of those who are giving them, but
may not be relevant to all who are hearing or reading them. In any case,
spiritual progress cannot be sustained on the basis of conceptual thinking.
It is beyond ideas. Hence, the contradictions. Only in abiding inner silence
can the truth be known.
Bhakti offers a big advantage in considering the paradoxes and other
distractions encountered on the spiritual path, because it ignores them!
Devotion is pure emotion, and does not have to puzzle things out. Little
thinking is necessary.
As it says in the Bible, "Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all will be
added to you." The heart knows this.
Love knows no reason,
and this enables one with strong bhakti to cut through the distractions, and act.
If action is applied in effective spiritual practices, then the journey will
be on, and the paradoxes and spiritual experiences will become a matter of
record, passing scenery in the process of human spiritual transformation,
rather than an endless series of evaluations. Just milestones along the
Road from where to where?
of course. Where else would we go?
Another element of the divine paradox is the idea that we must travel far to
attain enlightenment, even while there is nowhere to go. Another way of
putting it is to say that there is much to do, yet nothing to do. As with
other spiritual paradoxes, if doing
without doing is
intellectualized too much, we may find extreme behavior emerging. Like the
person who leaves life's responsibilities, spouse and children, running off
to seek enlightenment. Or the seeker who discontinues all activity in the
belief that there is nothing to do, thus becoming a burden on those around
Whether the aspirant runs away or sits down and does nothing, the essential
fact will not be changed. That is, we take ourselves wherever we go. So no
matter where we go or what we do or not do, the journey will be from here to
here from not realizing to realizing our ever-present Self.
We don't have to leave our home or disengage from our responsibilities to
reach this realization. All we must do is long for it, spend some time each
day in structured practices like deep meditation and spinal breathing
pranayama, and then go out and live our life normally. With that, we will be
traveling quickly on the inside in purification and opening, without doing
much out of the ordinary on the outside. We don't have to put on strange
clothing, take up a new lifestyle, or engage in elaborate rituals. We can do
these things if we are strongly drawn to them, but it will only make a
difference if it inspires us internally in some way. The same thing can be
accomplished in jeans and a T-shirt, sitting where we are right now.
While enlightenment is ultimately a non-doing, a letting go, we must do
something to cultivate it.
We can wait for someone else to turn on the light (maybe a very long time),
or we can get up and turn on the light ourselves. We must do something in
order to do nothing. And we do not have to leave home to do it.
In fairness to the old ways, things are quite different now. Information
about the means and processes of human spiritual transformation are readily
available these days. It is the information age, and nearly everyone has
access to knowledge. In the old days, one might have to travel far to find
knowledge. And the knowledge often had strings attached - required
lifestyle, beliefs, rituals, etc. Even so, the journey has always been
within each person, and it will always be like that. Now, with greatly
increased access to spiritual information, we can move beyond the external
props of spiritual life, and boil it down to the basic principles and
methods, which are universal. What we find is an endless expanding cycle of
spiritual desire, action, purification and opening, continuing on until
enlightenment and the paradoxes of spirit become part of everyday life and
are little noticed.
Along the way, we will have many experiences. We may feel extremely
passionate about our spiritual journey in the beginning, even before we have
traveled very far. In practicing daily deep meditation over months and
years, we will come to know inner silence and reside in That,
finding it to be our own Self.
Ordinary life will go on, even as we find ourselves living beyond it,
untouched by it. We will find the rise of dispassion amidst the normal
passions of living. We might wonder if we are losing it, with respect to
being engaged in life.
As we continue on, we will find that our desire has not been dissolved, but
transformed. Transformed from personal desire to divine desire. This is the
gradual shift from serving self (our body/mind) to serving Self found
everywhere around us in others. During this transformation, we will find our
attachment to the outcomes of all action becoming less.
It has been said that desire leads to action, and to attachment to the
results of the action. Yet, as we move forward on our spiritual path, we
find that our desire shifts to become more for the action itself - the
divine flow coming through us and not so much for the end result. The desire
and divine flow become one. In becoming one like that, our actions become a
powerful force of evolution in all that we do in our everyday life. It is
the power of love, outpouring divine love.
We find ourselves living a passionate life with dispassion, a life filled
with desires without expectations, and a life of full engagement in active
surrender. This is possible through ongoing devotion and the rise of inner
Our initial spiritual desire continues throughout our journey and transforms
gradually from personal to divine. We have gone nowhere, except forward in
the realization of our own Self,
a journey from here to here. We have become love on the move, stillness in
action, which is the marriage of stillness and divine ecstasy radiating
constantly from within us. Then all of life becomes our divine
all we do is a glorious dance, unfolding unity everywhere. The journey
begins in love, and ends in love.
The guru is in you.
Related Lessons Topic Path
Discuss this Lesson in the AYP Plus Support Forum
Note: For detailed
discussion on the rise of divine love and unity, see the
Bhakti and Karma Yoga book.
For detailed instructions on
building a balanced daily practice routine with self-pacing, and on the
evolution of the stages of enlightenment, see the
Eight Limbs of Yoga Book. Also see