The Key to the Door

Ahimsananda's picture

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For those who find the non-dual "path " has appeal, the danger of "dryness " often becomes an issue. Those of us who have an "intellectual " leaning will often try to find answers in the mind long after the mind's usefulness is spent. The question as to why we do this, especially in the West, requires us to look a bit at the position we come from.

Many of us on the spiritual "path " of non-duality, in what ever form it takes, come to it from some other faith or spiritual background. Many come from a Christian background that they found unsatisfying or terrifying in turns, looking for something with 'less rules " or "more personal freedom or participation ". It took me over 30 years to discover that the Christian Church had a mystical, non-dual side. I have always believed that the "pull " of other forms of spirituality is often based in their "otherness".

If you are brought up in a Christian Church, or any other spiritual system that has "ritualized " practices or beliefs, those practices and beliefs become, at first, charged with meaning. Later they become less important, particularly when we observe uncomplimentary clergy or congregational behavior that indicates lack of belief, if not downright hypocrisy. But apart from the hypocrisy, we begin to lose interest in the same "stories " we have heard over and over. We forget that the stories are spiritual "pointers " and start making them into history, or worse, law ! Under these circumstances it is not surprising that a "religion of the mind " might become popular.

When we delve into Eastern spirituality, this "religion of the mind ", many exciting images arise. Not only new stories, new Gods, but new words and ideas to expand our "knowledge ". Even though images in your own spiritual system may point to the same truth, these new, exciting images convey meaning that has become lost in convention or lack of attention and earnestness. These "new gods " we see as much less threatening than the God "that could send us to hell !" We see them as the symbols they are, instead of a hated, oppressive father figure. We see no need for "worship " or devotion. We are free to explore reality with the mind ! But in our rush to find the truth, we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

This idea of a "religion of the mind", Jnana Yoga, self inquiry, non-duality; however you describe it, has often become a "religion" that despises religion. By that, I mean that many will not go beyond the mind in their search. They have only scratched the surface of their own religion or belief system, and now want to dive headlong into a new system that will be logical and reasonable. They say faith has nothing to do with it, love has nothing to do with it. There are no questions as to why monks and nuns, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu sit in silence for long hours, over periods of many years. It is the silent contemplation of Love, along with living as love in action, that brings us home.

When I was a monk, and writing the rule for the community, I wrote of "spending time before the cross as a way to true knowledge". This can be looked at as a penance to those who neither like stillness or who fear emptiness. But this is the way to Love. We do not sit silently in hopes of getting some new "thought" or "idea". We sit to be silent in Love. This is not some "hippie", romantic notion. By opening all that we hold ourselves to be, by becoming empty vessels, we become filled with the indescribable "knowledge" of Love. Meditation on an object or idea is not a spiritual pursuit, it is mind control. Contemplation on the other hand, is an emptying. a releasing of control. An opening to what is.

We can argue Bhakti vs. Jnana all day. But a combination of the two is vital to any spiritual understanding. No matter how you build your concepts, Western, Eastern, or whatever, living out your spirituality is the only way to be it. The mind can only lead you to the conclusion of words; I am. Stepping into Love openly, with the trust and wonder of a little child, requires going back to the source, the Love itself. The mind leads to the door. The key to the door is Love. Without the key, you can't open the door, and there is no point to the trip! When we were little children we sometimes wore a key around our neck, so as to not lose it. We need to wear this key of Love around our hearts.