|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 276 ]
It has become fashionable in many of today's pseudo-spiritual circles to carry the attitude that "nothing is real," or that there is no underlying reality behind the life that we perceive via our gross senses.
In place, what is substituted is an indefinable, ambiguous principle where everything and anything that can be conceived of has equal validity. This sits perfectly in the desire-bound, material mind of the modern person because it is a licence to accept any and all whimsical thought as equally true and allows one to craft a pseudo-logical argument in support of any and all attitudes, lifestyles and behaviours -- classifying them merely as 'a different spiritual path'. As one teacher of mine used to lovingly profess, "Some people sure love to feed themselves shit with a big spoon!"
Contemporary attitudes such as these are largely a result of the 'spiritual tourist' mentality that has befallen many Westerners, wherein folks dabble from one thing to the next. One day they're reading a book on some new-age theory of soul-mates, then taking a workshop the next weekend in Zen meditation. Off they go to a vipassana retreat next month, yoga-dance class on Mondays, Hot-yoga on Wednesdays and Fridays, and then on to crystal healing groups, past-life regression therapy, chakra-balancing workshops, shamanic rituals, Tai Chi and Chi Qong, etc, etc. The list is inexhaustible.
It is no wonder then, that when it comes to spiritual understanding and true knowledge, most people are filled with a confusing mass of spiritual-linguistic mumbo jumbo.
People like this are ever on the lookout for that 'next great thing', the one big missing piece of the puzzle that will finally make it all make sense and bring them at last to that pinnacle that their spiritual ego fantasizes about.
But the Western principle of 'more is better' does not apply to the spiritual path, and merely thinking that one is leading a spiritual life doesn't necessarily mean that it is true. In fact, one can become spiritually deluded just as easily as one can become deluded by any material pursuits.
There are indeed many spiritual paths which lead to the same goal, but in the same way that one cannot tread a few hundred meters along several different paths up a mountain and expect to ever come close to the top, one cannot dabble piecemeal in the many various spiritual disciplines and expect to arrive at the ultimate spiritual goal of transcendence in the end.
Above all, if we aspire to true knowledge and spiritual growth, we cannot allow ourselves to get tied up in the knots of self-serving rhetoric and ambiguous pseudo-logic, the trademark of the spiritually superficial and lazy.
Those who talk that way generally do not speak from a perspective of profound personal experience, but rather they have readily adopted these particularly hazy attitudes because it is most convenient for them. It is certainly much easier to carry around a few quirky sounding spiritual notions and a handful of profound sayings than it is to actually delve deep into the Self in search of truth and understanding.
These folks then proceed to stride forth with a haughty air of indignation in attempt to mask over the fact that they really have no idea what they are talking about. Just because one uses big words or speaks a few pseudo-paradoxical phrases from time to time doesn't, in the least way, mean that have any profound insight or understanding.
You'll recognize them by their statements such as: "there is no reality; everything is an illusion"; "there is no such thing as truth, everything is true"; "there is no such thing as right or wrong, good or bad, etc…" Yet when it comes right down to it, they have little else to say.
The spiritual path is not for ego-jockeys. It is not for the one who memorizes the most philosophical quotes and delivers them in a timely manner. It is for those who wish to, once and for all, banish the ego—to wilfully relinquish their ignorance in favour of understanding and truth...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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