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The Purification of Intent A GUIDE FOR SEEKERS: A MANUAL FOR SEEKERS visiting Tiruvannamalai. This document neither recommends nor criticize specific Guru's, teachers, practices or teachings.

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Why did Ramana Maharshi, after becoming enlightened at the age of 16, say nothing after leaving the caves until someone asked him a question? Why have traditional teachers have never advertised, and why are they even harder to find? If this question interests you read further. The desire for Truth is an essential urge from the core of our Being. And yet most people aren’t seeking Truth. In order for this desire or Intent to flourish, it needs to be innately strong or else get fed by conscious sources until it is self-sustaining. Most people on the path are really seeking enlightenment as an egomind desire, just another form of “What can I get for myself?” And if that’s where we are starting from, fine, this is as good a beginning as any, especially when we know this is what we are up to. That which seeks enlightenment is only ego – our sense of being a unique separate self. The only one who can seek enlightenment is ego, the description of the separate self. The interest in enlightenment is really a masked wish to end suffering, which is every person’s natural desire, but this becomes distorted if we also have the illusory belief that life can and should be perpetually happy and pleasurable. We believe we want truth, but what we are really looking for is ease, consolation and the avoidance of uncertainty.

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Close encounters with Truth or Emptiness are sometimes frightening. Annihilation, as the Sufis sometimes call it, doesn’t sound inviting. Being disillusioned is scary. There is nothing you can hold on to—no set of ideals, a methods, a community, an order, emptiness now that doesn’t sound inviting if you consider it deeply, which natural we don’t. With the deepening or purification of motive, this “wanting to know Truth”, which is Intent, eventually transforms into the urgent need to know Truth. Intent, when it is unencumbered, has been symbolized by the Sufis as the winged heart. As C.G. Jung illustrates, “Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens.” Enlightenment Awakening and liberation Another crucial misunderstanding occurs because we have very few words in English for all the experiences and events we call “spiritual”. This wide spectrum of non-ordinary occurrences are collapsed together into the terms “enlightenment” or “awakening.” Perhaps because there are but a few words for the state shift we call enlightenment we presume that there is only one event or just a few. That any unusual or ecstatic experience is the proof of transcendence of ego and materiality. There are probably as many variations of states as there are people who experience them. Thou there are common recognitions, such as 4


emptiness, throughout most of these events. Reading biographies of saints, sages, gurus, Avatars, teachers, and mystics, one discovers that a vast variety of such spiritual experiences are possible. There is a paradox in the search. Even when coming to rest in abiding non-dual awareness there is still no 'top end'. It could be said that this is but a new beginning. Unless it is an avataric incarnation, to 'turn the wheel of the dharma' of which perhaps Ramana Maharshi is an example, or Meher Baba with his 'planetary work' and grounding Masts, there will still be skandas or karmas to unwind. (Note the number of teachers who've died of painful cancers.) This planet is not a rest stop, however much we wish this. Before you go up you must go down. For unusual experiences to be grounded and stable; they need to rest on a foundation of self knowledge- as an impartial acceptance of the ego complex. When these altered states of consciousness are not resting on such a foundation of self knowledge, which includes the shadow, blind spots regarding one's behavior can occur, such as, teachers who become sexually or financially compromised. Again, Jung says it best: “When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.” Many presenters of higher wisdom don’t seem to acknowledge, much less expose, our self-deceptions, rather they often speak of 5


peace. Maybe few want to hear that they are not ripe for, or already established in, an enlightenment? What is awakening? Awakening, as I’ll define it broadly for the moment, is any consciousness enhancing experience or event. This is the beginning of a real life not the final event as so many believe. Any profound shift of consciousness can and often does take years to process and integrate. Integrating the awakening event is crucially important so that ego may well use the experience as an identity, as a credential, thus preventing us from continuing to learn and grow. A real teacher and a strong living lineage, like Tibetan Buddhism, provide feedback and support as a major antidote against getting stuck with an ‘enlightened ego’, thus keeping us open and deepening our humanity. Our temporal and human side is what grows and continues to deepen, for most people, at least it has for me. Our unconditioned Emptiness is of another order not subject to change. Don’t get the categories confused. Let me digress a little. After you Awaken it is obvious that everyone is and has always and will always be enlightened, that there is no such thing as un-enlightenement, so there isn’t an opposite, enlightenment. The word enlightened, is a verbal convenience, instead of saying such awkward phrases like ‘unawake to being whole, perfect and complete’, or ‘awake to our unconditioned self’. Now the word 'enlightenment' seems to 6


have become mostly an enticement or carrot for seekers, the big carrot. And there are events and experiences that confirm the existence of more than we generally see and perceive. These shifts of context are important first steps, taking us beyond mere belief or hearsay about non-separation. Prelude to Awakening, There are also a number perhaps many conditions experienced approaching ‘the shift’, the one mentioned above where we feel the onset of death/annihilation, which has been common, is but one of these states. Maybe even no prelude – just, ‘wow…’. Varieties of awakening Awakening does not manifest only in the form of gurus and teachers. Some saints or Jivamuktis (liberated souls) are invisible. Ordinary people such as school teachers, parents, nurses, anyone in any role in ordinary life, is not less able or worthy of awakened living. These so called “un-awakened” beings—who live responsibly, not complaining about life's unfairness. Though perhaps not common they aren’t rare. What is maturity? For me it begins with not taking things personally. This capacity, of not taking what happens to them personally, is in my opinion, as remarkable as awakening. There are highly mature people that do not have visible teaching functions, teaching by example rather than talking. “Teacher/guru” isn’t the only manifestation or indicator of 7


transformation, as most of the local tourists seem to believe. Maybe those little heroes in life who have integrity and compassion, and are capable of self-sacrifice, are of as much real help to the planet as many talking teachers. They act correctly from their own innate sense of conscience, without the sort of guarantee that enlightenment appears to bestow. As far as I’m concerned, people who do the right thing from an innate sense of conscience, without the belief that God is on their side, are also the saints of this world. Judaism teaches that there are 36 invisible righteous ones who sustain the world and that in fact, there must be at least 36 in order for the “show” to continue. The Ego People think ego is evil, something that shouldn’t exist. In fact we need as our interface with the world. The ego is like the operating system of a computer, which allows the user access its functions. It’s not an option to destroy the ego, it just needs to be under proper management—an integrated self in the service of life, not a mind for maintaining an imagined unique identity. More practical than the sought-after prize of enlightenment is egomanagement. After awakening, the ego returns as the user interface, the UI, and not as a separate self, but over time in Maya's spell you may forget and it can start acting as the controller again, which would be like a virus running the humanbiological-machine. 8


The probability of awakening Statistically, the peak ages for awakening are 30 to 40. The probability of a major death-rebirth event or awakening diminishes with age. The body has less energy, or charge, for crossing ‘the neural gap’- awakening has a corresponding subtle physiological component, not only insight. These are just probabilities, the proverbial bell curve, and everyone is an individual. UG Krishnamurti, I believe had his major awakening in his late forties and Arnaud Deshardins awoke in his 50's. Individuals who awaken in their early twenties or earlier often have significant teaching work. Sometimes it can be triggered by a “near death experience”, an NDE. Awakenings of the more intense varieties as experienced in Kundalini yoga, or an NDE, can be, and often are physically transforming. They are extremely intense. The Sufis call it, 'fana', or annihilation. That is not to say that final surrender has to be disruptively intense either. There are true accidental awakenings where the individual wasn’t seeking and have no notion of, or desire for, such an event, such as NDE’s, or transformation by intense suffering. To quote Echart Tolle for whom this happened – “Historically, suffering has been the primary catalyst for awakening.” It seems that unsought-for awakening is some people’s karma, fate, or destiny. The difficulty with this type of awakening is that many of these people don’t have a context for referencing it. They are confused when trying to share it with unreceptive or ignorant friends and family. Some 9


are so confused that they can’t reference it at all, putting it on hold in a corner of their psyche. For all who awaken, ego as UI, user interface, will return, but without the specialness that needs defending. The sense of separate identity comes and goes all the time. Awakening must imply the timeless recognition of the eternal substratum or 'Self' in which the illusion is absolutely dissolved. Interpretation, or how one references or understands any experience, is all important. As Andrew Cohen amongst many others has said, “the way in which we interpret our experience really determines how we value it and how we see it.” He goes on: “Individuals from different cultures, backgrounds, and levels of development can have similar experiences but interpret them in completely different ways. And the way that we interpret our experiences really does determine the way we see reality, the way we see ourselves, the way we perceive the world, and the way we see the relationship between the self and the universe.” Integrating awakening Integrating ones awakening is of great importance. Jed McKenna, an American writer and iconoclast, claiming enlightenment via his particular journaling process, said that after his final event of no experience or experiencer, it took him another 10 years to integrate his final awakening before he started attempting to transmit his understanding. It will have an impact on our lives that usually takes time to integrate. 10


Even the extraordinary Ramana Maharshi, at the age of 16, continued solitary retreat for many years before beginning to transmit his understanding, and even then only after questioning began. There are numerous examples of long delays before teaching that could be cited. Again, I advise everyone to educate themselves through research, reading biographies of acknowledged recent historical teachers, and of course being with a real teacher. When awakening does happen you’re never ready. It’s not going to be anything like you imagined or hoped it was going to be. Moreover, if I’m making it sound complicated like the splitting of the atom, it’s not necessarily. One of my teachers said to me, “For you it may be just a matter of relaxing and it may take you 20 years to learn to relax.” Not exactly to the same point, but connected and of more practical value are these words of Osho's: “Whatsoever you choose— singing, educating children, dancing, plumbing, or whatsoever—it has to be your love. Then it gives growth, inspiration, impetus, and it creates a nucleus in your being around which, by and by, you start crystallizing being.” this is of the same flavor as Don Juan's Path with Heart. What about spontaneous awakening? There are certainly beings who awaken spontaneously, witness Ramana Maharshi but they are extremely rare. These spontaneously-awakened beings, both those who have teaching 11


roles and those who don’t, do not need to advertise to be seen. Real Being naturally attracts recognition and respect. Most, but not all, prefer lower profiles, allowing those who are ready and can benefit from them to be attracted in their own time and way. You don't go to heaven alone. We need to let go of the idea that seeking enlightenment is a personal quest. It may even sometimes be a by-product of service—serving the teacher, the dharma, the sangha, referred to as the Three Jewels in Buddhism. Another important component of Buddhist teachings is the Bodhisattva vow— to continue incarnation until all sentient beings have become enlightened. This may sound like an impossible endeavor, but it suggests that awakening isn’t an exclusively personal affair, but is connected to all others and life. Possibly intending, or dedicating your spiritual efforts “May the results of these small efforts be for the benefit of all beings everywhere”. This provides ongoing fuel for the journey. The search and seeking may end but learning, growing, and contributing to life doesn’t end. Seth in Unknown Journey clearly illustrates that, “The framework is so woven that each particle (of consciousness) is dependent upon every other. The strength of one adds to the strength of all. The weakness of one weakens the whole. The energy of one recreates the whole. The striving of one increases the potentiality of everything that is, and this places great responsibility upon every consciousness… it is the responsibility 12


of even the most minute particle of consciousness to use its own abilities, and all of its abilities, to the utmost. Upon the degree to which this is done rests the power and coherence of everything that is.” The Real Teacher Because we use the words teacher and guru comprehensively we assume that all gurus are the same thing, of the same kind. There is a broad range of people performing teaching and guiding functions. I'll suggest these definitions: Guru – someone who lives with or has daily visits from someone in the sangha daily; Teacher – someone who presents teachings but neither lives with or receives students regularly or at home; and Educator, used to be called 'pundits' – someone who writes and or lectures on spiritual topics, such as Ken Wilbur. They do not claim to transmitting dharma, though they may be doing so. Different types of teachers Different Guru/teachers have different sahdana, or spiritual tasks. Most Guru's, besides whatever they do for their students, are also refining their own practice. However, rare exceptions might be Ramana Maharshi who seems to have come only to “turn the wheel of the dharma” or Meher Baba with his “Universal Work.” For the purpose of this writing I've created three categories for guides. Guru, teacher and educator. A Guru is someone who you 13


commit to and they commits to you. There is ongoing attention/interest to how your doing in your sahdana. This is a big deal for both of them. A guru will have some means for maintaining continuing visits and contact, and will have some kind of link to the student/devotee despite apparent separation. That is perhaps the primary distinction between a guru and a teacher. A teacher presents dharma and may engage the student, perhaps even give them suggestions for sahdana, but is not providing a vehicle for ongoing personal contact and direction. A teacher goes to a personal home at the end of the day. An educator is just providing information as to what they know about the transformational process, ideally form their own experience, but not necessarily. In India they are known as pundits. This three layered division is a construct for illustrating an idea, these distinctions may not be so clear or even existent in practice. The Grace of a lineage can flow though any sincere person and or to any ready seker. There isn’t a reliable yardstick for the student to assess themselves, it would be like the eye seeing itself. And it is difficult if not pointless to attempt to assess the Guru. If your headed to an authentic guru it's just a matter of time before it comes to pass and there will be indicators or signs for you. If your hungry and impatient you will imagine what you want to see and so believe that you have found your guru. Unless you have a dramatic heart opening it's probably best to be a bit cautious, 14


watching listening and waiting. This is for a guru, for a teacher it's just watching and listening as no commitment is expected or sought. You may want to trust that “when the student is ready the teacher appears.” My first guru was so nonlinear that I could not imagine myself as his student, yet once in his field it was like Star Trek, 'tractor beam', I could not leave his influence. Without a real teacher, the seeker must refine one’s own discrimination, is by visiting with acknowledged teachers. In the absence of such discrimination, unreliable sources of information such as advice from other seekers and one’s imagination are used. Every devotee believes that their guru is the best and that is good for that person as they need to have such confidence in their teacher to follow the guru's recommendations. But this neither bestows authenticity nor is an indicator that this is where you belong. Often devotion to a teacher is a masked form of devotion to ones ego, with the guru now providing the new improved credentials. One way of assessing a teacher is via their acknowledgment by other teachers as is implied in a lineage. A saying I heard attributed to the Tibetans: the 3 indicators of a lucky birth, birth in a human body, an unquenchable desire for truth and a Guru.

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This is a story I overheard regarding teachers: A seeker in Tiruvannamalai asked a Western teacher, “Why are there so many false teachers?” His answer, “Because there are so many false students.” Develop a bullshit detector One way to expose false teachers and teachings is to read biographies of well-known traditional masters from throughout the world. For instance, Ramana Maharshi, Shirdi Sai Baba, Meher Baba, Neem Karoli Baba, G.I. Gurdjieff and Upasni Maharaj (who are relatively contemporary, and well documented). Anyone claiming to be a teacher needs to be checked out, carefully. How do they live? Most, if not all, real teachers have little to no private life (much less do they need or want lavish personal quarters.), and are regularly accessible to their students. Advaita and especially neo-Advaita, as seen in Tiruvannamalai, generally means lecturing teachers, without ashrams, sangha, practices, or sadhana, like a performance given after which the teacher retires off stage to his or her private life. Not that lectures and workshops can’t be a way of allowing ready seekers to approach. Some gurus have a verbal teaching and others like Yogi Ramsuratkumar in Tiruvannamalai had next to no verbal or written teachings. Instructional teachers can provide information, 16


as in this document, but there may be little if any transformational potential or transmission if there isn’t passed along through Grace and a lineage, and it also depends on the openness of the seeker. The importance of a teacher Having a teacher or guru doesn’t guarantee enlightenment, nothing guarantees anything as there is only one guarantee. Sincerity and diligence are more important, however, after awakening, a real teacher is essential, so that we don’t become crystallized with an enlightened ego—rather we stay fluid and responsive to the needs of life, and a real teacher prevents us from getting stuck on the idea that we’ve reached the end. Instead they help keep us moving on. Awakening therefore, is not the end of the road as EJ Gold points out, “Enlightenment is but one pearl on the necklace of the Beings journey through existence.” Is a teacher necessary? At some points in this document it may seem like I’m advocating that a teacher/guru/guide isn’t necessary. Well, it’s kind of yesand-no on that, but for most of us a teacher is necessary. For myself, I didn’t just need one teacher, I needed and attracted myself to three teachers, and I must admit I needed them all. Besides, in my own life, it has been my direct observation that most people really do need help: tangible, incarnate, on-the-spot 17


help. The likelihood of ego co-opting and using the search and any awakening event, big or small, for its own substantiation is almost guaranteed. I’ve seen it often enough! As one famous transformational teacher has said, “In order for enlightenment to remain, it needs an enlightened community,” meaning that for most people to continue acting from enlightened wisdom perspective their needs to be others around who can support and enliven this new perspective. This is especially true after an initial awakening. Otherwise 'Maya' will reweave her spell of forgetfulness. This support is indeed what happens within the context of a traditional lineage, such as the guru-disciple arrangements of Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and other traditions. In these lineages, even after a student has an awakening or Kensho, it must be deepened and then tested by the master. Teachers without the friendship of equals may be in the ‘lone wolf’ ego mode – though this is not necessarily confirmation of ability or maturity as a teacher. Often an individual may work with or under a teacher for many years, maturing and refining his or her character. The following Zen story tells it best: A Zen master was asked “Isn’t enlightenment the most important thing?” He said, “Yes, enlightenment is the most important thing, after good manners.” This idea though perhaps sounding cute or trite really has profound import. Enlightenment can't be a license for 'anything 18


goes', as it transcends personal identity. The master may have been indicating to the student the falseness of his ideas of Zen. One of the clearest most comprehensive maps of the journey that I have encountered is the' Ox Herding drawings' of Zen Buddhism. Who becomes a teacher? Historically, most teachers have had only one lineage heir or two at best. So teachers, who acknowledge many students as ripened teachers, probably aren’t what they appear to be, or have more complex motives. And in regards to the nominees for teacherhood, it would seem useful to carefully enquiry inside oneself before launching into a vocation with such responsibility and karma. Looking at teaching from the outside may seem very attractive to the superficial observer but teaching at the level of guru is a serious and difficult undertaking that should only be done as a kind of necessity of destiny. (Having lived somewhat closely with two teachers it seemed to me, given what I saw of their lives, that this is not something anyone would seek if they knew the energies and complexities involved. In a moment of dismay I’ve thought teaching at the level of guru a form of bad karma.) The teachings of Advaita, Neo-Advaita, and non-dualism, for example, can be twisted when taken outside the context of Hinduism, so anyone with an epiphany, confidence, and some intelligence may decide to declare themselves a teacher, or get 19


pronounced a teacher by another of the same unconscious or misguided orientation. To declare that your “students” have graduated and become teachers is a way of legitimizing your authenticity as a teacher. Traditionally teachers didn’t advertise word of mouth more than sufficed. Advertising is associated with marketing and sales—not elements of the spiritual path. Though we’re living in different times now with much broader outreach possibilities available, most real teachers still do not advertise themselves openly. (They have their own way of finding those with need and readiness.) Yet many students have a desire to get the word out about how great their teacher is—a kind of ego recognition by association. Depending on the work of that teacher, this outreach activity may or may not get reined in. This type of ego tendency needs to be recognized, and the best way to learning is still “getting your hand caught in the cookie jar”, meaning recognition through experience. Number of students Rare are the guru's, such as Ammachi, or the teachers such as Adyashanti, who need high visibility for their work and hence many students. But most teachers can only work effectively with a limited number of students and so intentionally keep this number small. Even these high profile teachers will have their close students who usually have arrived early on in the teachers work. These World teachers may have an ashram with a sort of 20


“play pen” for the mass of devotees seeking their blessing. The guest resident’s areas of larger ashrams can also serve the teacher in that they can select individuals for greater contact. Spiritual community or Sangha Traditional teachers usually keep students near them, at least initially, to ensure they get a good start. Many teachers also maintain some kind of teaching environment; in the east these are generally called ashrams, in the west, spiritual communities. Such a community of followers is called a sangha. Sangha, is perhaps the most important agency for the preparation of students by providing an opportunity to do seva, service, to the teacher and community. Moreover, working with others devotees within the sangha, tends to bring to the surface unresolved tendencies, or vasanas, which if viewed in the light of consciousness can be dissolved through acceptance. Not all teachers have an ongoing community. Some may work with only a few students intensively or intermittently. Teachers whose work is more focused may create a tiered community for the students around them, working differently with each tier or group. This accommodates the varying degrees of readiness of the students. Even false or unprepared teachers, which I’ll broadly define as those not conducting the flow of Grace, serve the guru ecology by providing places for unready students, and even within that circumstance a sincere student will be attracted to what they need and invoke real help even 21


from pseudo-gurus, as Grace is always raining on us waiting for our openness. Partially enlightened individuals, if they don’t see a larger picture, become “talking teachers,” not living with or near sangha, just making appearances and lecturing. This is fine and valid if everyone understands that the speaker is just presenting information and not transmitting Grace. (Let me give a provisional definition of Grace, being that I use it so much. Living potential for a useful insight or transformational event.) Accurate information is valuable but not of the same transformational potential that a Guru can provide. A residential preparation situation such as an ashram isn't likely to happen or endure with less than a fully responsible, competent or trained teacher. The energies around eager competitive students can get fairly intense. Maybe a clever teacher can pull off an ‘ashram lite’ for spiritual tourists, like a yoga retreat. Traditionally the pundits did not represent themselves as gurus, rather presented their best understanding and information. Though it can be useful for the right person at the right time they were clear that this wasn't the guru-disciple relationship. Some, gurus with ashrams have a more passive approach to transmission, trusting the process to provide what's needed, others exercise their 'skillful means' – as it's called in Buddhism – quickening the process for those who can use it. 22


If your awakening occurred within a clear linage then they will probably work with the methodology or system the lineage provides rather than creating a new one. The Three Jewels: the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha — a teacher, a teaching, and a community. An indication of mastery in a lineage is the ability to enrich the tradition with innovation and creativity, to find a unique style and vocabulary to suit changing times and people. Lineages tend to assure a kind of quality control, but clearly not always. Not following a lineage doesn’t mean the teacher isn’t effective, as I can personally attest to, it’s all a matter of is the flow of Grace and the sincerity and ripeness of the seeker. I recently read that one kind of indicator of a real teacher is the peace felt in his or her presence. I’d say an equally good and perhaps better indicator might be if you are disturbed after the initial contact. Ones sleep is disturbed. This is because ego is the only one who gets disturbed. And clearly this person isn’t trying to win you over, not offering comfort and consolation, the question is rather are you willing to accept the challenge of acknowledging that something challenged you. The Real Student. Given the difficulty of determining the capability of someone claiming to be a teacher, the real question for a seeker therefore should be, “What is a real student and how do I become one?” This question is more useful than asking how to recognize a real 23


teacher (which may be more a matter of providence or karma than any amount of experience and discrimination). Wanting to pick a guru is counter-intuitive because this apparent act of picking assumes that a very limited ego mind can make such evaluations, seeing beyond its own conditioned assumptions. Thus, a bit of humility would turn a tricky question of identifying your teacher back on the questioner: am I a real – sincere, diligent, prepared student? What am I willing to lose, not what does the teacher have to offer me. We can't answer those questions as we don't really know how we will show up until it is 'show time', but asking these questions has real utility, turning ones attention inwards. And we may sincer and still have to wait for 'right time'. Some important attributes of a real student are humility, the lack of self-importance, sincerity and self honesty. Another quality is diligence —as an unwavering intent to know truth. Other qualities include patience, and a sense of humor. These attributes are obvious enough, but it’s up to each one of us to live them. Without this profound commitment, which the teacher can see, seeking is just “window shopping at a spiritual supermarket.” Again we must trust that “When the student is ready, the teacher will call,” is not a cliché but living truth. Figuring it out There are no how-to answers. I’ve heard people at satsangs asking questions and expecting answers as if they, or their 24


condition, is a problem that can be intellectually solved with the right answer. I’ve heard questions such as “How to still the mind?” as if there is an instruction manual for unplugging the mind, or that no thinking is the goal. Dogs and cows don’t think. The mind is not the problem. See ‘Managed ego’*. There isn’t a how-to answer for anything connected to consciousness. It’s a just ‘do it’ kind of thing. Awakening is one’s destiny and you either find your destiny or meet your fate- the mechanical life of sleeping humanity. The most important attitude for a seeker is that Truth is the overriding priority, if this is the highest priority, virtually your only priority, then awakening is just a matter of time, maybe a long time relative to a young person’s impatience, but it’s still a donedeal. I heard a quote of a Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, “Human incarnation is the guarantee of enlightenment.” Now that certainly seeing the big picture! A real teacher and community are also most in the preparation phase, creating useful life habits such as self discipline, meditation, knowledge of dharma, and witnessing. These are best described as “life habits” for a richer more productive life and if awakening should occur they are a kind of foundation for stabilizing or grounding after the event and then living from the change of understanding and perspective that comes with awakening. A good book as an example of the seeker on the path is ‘Pure Heart Enlightened Mind”, the letters of Mora 25


O’Halloran’s. She was a remarkable student and her book is edifying and inspiring. Theoretical vs. practical It takes more than just reading to understand. You must live it. A number of great books and articles describe how to live consciously—Deepak Chopra’s books, Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now, The Four Agreements, The Soul's Code, even this “noble” work that you are reading now. You’ll notice that reading something, however wise and inspiring it may be, makes little difference to how you actually live, what you do in those difficult situations or even on ordinary days. If you haven’t noticed this then you haven’t been paying close enough attention. But read on anyway. Why is this? The answer is easy. When reading, it’s only words that reach your brain through your eyes, there is not the kind of imprint of experience, regardless of how inspired you feel and how strongly you agree with the author. Understanding something so that it is in and of your Being, and you are living your life through it, is quite a different matter. Really understanding that “you can’t do what you think you can do” is the beginning of transformation. It’s the beginning of selfhonesty. Only with these open and empty hands is there the sincerity that can purify intent. That reminds me of a poem by Rene Daumel: 26


I am dead because I lack desire, I lack desire because I think I possess. I think I possess because I do not try to give. In trying to give, you see that you have nothing; Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself; Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing: Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become; In desiring to become, you begin to live. Or: the knowledge from reading is similar to flying to another land as opposed to trekking there with all the experiences and knowledge gained wherefrom. Knowledge of the terrain, map reading, weather, different languages, people’s, cultures and so on. With reading you gain knowledge with the other you gain experience and wisdom. Advaita and Yoga Advaita occurs within the context of Hinduism where it arose as a flower of the tree. It’s useful to learn a bit about Hinduism, the Vedas and Upanishads, and not just pick Advaita out because it so readily lends itself adoption to other teachings. Note that Sri Nisargadata Maharaj did Arti (devotional ceremony) to the pictures of his guru three times a day. When asked how this fit in with his teaching he called it a “mystery”. To me this showed that despite his pure non-dual teaching he was very humanly appreciative and grateful to his teachers. Picking a flower, 27


Advaita, off a plant isn't the same as having grown the plant till it flowers. The Bhakti Path. These tough times, known as the Kali Yuga, in Hindu cosmogony, it is considered that we all have a kind of attention-deficitdisorder to some extent, relative to the people of past ages, making Jnana Yoga and the rest of the other yoga’s more difficult to practice. Many gurus and scriptures, starting perhaps with the Shrimad-Bhagavad-Gita, say that Bhakti Yoga is the recommended practice, or spiritual sadhana, for this age. It is the practice of showing adoration, love, and devotion to an object— an incarnate one is the easiest object, (how about your mate?) However Christ or any Ishta Devata (a divine form) through which the aspirant contemplates God, can be used. The idea being that through adoration and love the ego cargo is dropped and the greatest openness and attunement to a powerful 'attractor fields', and thus the greatest transformational possibility. The caveat may be that not everyone finds this easy or suited to their disposition. Afterthoughts After rereading and editing this paper for the twentieth time I wonder if in my enthusiasm for accuracy and thoroughness I haven’t gotten lost forgetting the main observation and ideas

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that got me writing in the first place. They are still in there somewhere. But here is a condensed version below. Awakening isn’t the end of the road. It’s a beginning; it can give us a good start to becoming mature human beings. (One suggested definition of maturity is not taking anything personally.) Living in integrity (integrity would be, no conflict between ‘what we think, feel, say and do.) a large majority of the time. We can do this without awakening to our already-presentenlightenment. There are many examples. We don’t get to go beyond being human; as the esoteric teachings speak of, until we are fully human. Looking around me I’d say that fully human would be spectacular enough. Maybe that’s why in Judaism you couldn’t begin to study the Cabala until you were over 40, or why Gurdjieff said that the entry level person to The Work was an ‘Obivatal’ the name for a Russian peasant who could support 10 people through his own labors. So maybe as one western teacher visiting Tiruvannamalai said, “These people should go home and get a job”. For the more experienced Advaita seeker. You may encounter a teaching saying there is no such thing as free will. You might then think that if there is no free will, then why bother with any efforts at all? This could be fuel for justifying nihilism or hedonism. Even Ramana said that effort or sahdana was needed. Then again the less conscious you are, the less aware you are of possible choices. So for most people there is 29


little to none of our human potential for exercising choice. And that still doesn’t deny the potential for choice. From long personal observation it appears to me that virtually all of the bigger events in life are destined or fated, depending on your orientation, optimistic or pessimistic. Where I have found choice is in how I respond to the things in life that came along. Say if someone is unkind what do I do, react or keep still or...? If I have the ‘space’, to do something different, like just listening and walking away, then there is the potential for choice. Over time this non-reaction, changes the course of how your life starts appearing. Much more can be said about this. Better to see if you can “turn the other cheek”, not reacting, not allowing your first impulse to express, and see if you can do something different. The caveat to this is that until you have done ‘something’ along the lines of becoming conscious, you may come to see that you are always reacting in the same way. If you really see this it can be quite disheartening. This kind of intense reality check can also provide the motivation to really begin the purification of Intent. Post script and *Ego Management I now believe that the core of this evolutionary process is honesty. Without self-honesty there cannot be integrity and thus wholeness, an undivided manifest self. The condition of selfhonesty is rarely attained, witness the many so called awakened teachers who are involved in scandals. So self-honesty and integrity seem to me to be less common than awakening events. Without self-honesty/integrity there is no dependable foundation for trustworthiness as a regular person, much less a teacher. For a digital copy of this document email me at: silrak@gmail.com Email questions to same address. 30


The purification of intent