There are many rigid and sometimes severe practices placed on practitioners in order to become a qualified spiritual aspirant of a certain path. Although some disciplines are actually necessary for the spiritual quest the majority of physical austerities and practices aren’t, and they’re more of a ritualistic offering. However, offerings like this are a fleeting mind pacifier that won’t provide any lasting benefit to the spiritual path. In some extreme cases the students vigilantly practice austerities and disciplines that seem to dwell on physical endurance, but here again little to no spiritual value is derived from this.
Even the information taught is used in a grading fashion in order to test the aspirant’s knowledge, but this also falls short when it comes down to evaluating performance. This type of external grading system tends to create hierarchy within the group similar to school and the workplace generating competition and division. This dynamic is especially hard on the mind and it’ll interfere with the peaceful mind that is needed in order to meditate. This type of ego based on external performance can deliver a mental and spiritual road block that turns the most humble aim into arrogant gain.
The teacher also represents nobility and wisdom but if the teacher isn’t enlightened then it makes it extremely difficult for everyone. To Realize the Soul is hard and elusive and because the teacher is also striving they are in no position to help because the teacher has been forced into playing a role.
What I’m trying to say is; group dynamics, physical austerities, rituals, garments, insignias, chanting, visualizations and strict diets can be counterproductive to the spiritual cause when its connected to the physical world and feeds the ego. Some beginning meditation techniques and active mind and body meditations are helpful in the beginning but they easily turn into a crutch if the student doesn’t move past them.
The spiritual path these days judge you on external performances however when dealing with the spiritual it’s the internal triumphs and practices that really count.
In group situations talking about spiritual experiences can also become a competitive hindrance, for this stuff is best talked about in private with the teacher. And unless you have a qualified teacher to bounce things off of you’re basically on your own.
Your spiritual journey is a very private and personal pursuit between your Soul, the universe and the Almighty, and I think it is best pursued by yourself in private, always on the alert to keep the spiritual ego, useless formalities and wrong information at bay. The ego is the minds identity that is procured from a personal ideology that changes with life trends, which is fine when dealing with the world but in the spiritual field you’re dealing with Eternity. Eternity (God) has no competition, however when life takes center stage it becomes a personal and formidable contender to overcome. Hence the job of the spiritualist to help you break the spell so that you can find Eternity for good, but Religions and Foundations have unwittingly created a substitute centerpiece that is connected to the physical life which keeps Eternity off at a distance. It’s ether the physical realm or the Eternal realm and the serious seeker can’t pursue both at the same time and expect liberation.
I believe passed down traditions with no enlightened teacher at the helm is to blame for this deviation, and now austerities, words and techniques become the way to judge progression. This deviance from what really matters has a curb appeal with the masses via external achievements and now anyone can take the helm.
In search of Enlightenment or Self-realization have no real physical requirements to speak of and no special diet. In fact, if you feel special wearing the spiritual garb and the vegetarian diet makes you look down on others who aren’t like you then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. If your path requires you to achieve rigorous postures, abstain from sex or any type of abstinence or indulgence besides what is necessary in order to sit and meditate then theses type of accomplishments are usually without merit and you’re spinning your wheels. Of course extreme addictions are to be avoided and moderation is the operative word in most cases.
Even a holy place and a holy teacher isn’t a prerequisite if you understand the essence of the process, for then where you sit for meditation is the real holy place and the holy teacher. Research of course comes first and there are books and Realized teachers to help but be vigilant for the right knowledge.
Life has totally absorbed us into her clutches with all her rewarding social perks that we can easily loose our path through the trees. People perceive life in such a grading fashion that it encroaches into the spiritual field where it really doesn’t belong. The minute the Self-realized teacher dies the wannabes take over and fight for positioning, and eventually the new heads reorganizing everything to fit their mindset and goals. I’m afraid that’s really unavoidable unless there’s someone at the helm with the same spiritual enlightenment.
The real lack of good teachers has everyone concerned with the wrong ideals, and the true spiritual ideals that lead to liberation are diluted with ineffectiveness. In the long run they create dependence and become a hindrance to spiritual growth. The mind helps in the way of research and then when the mind realizes its part of the problem then the Soul must take the helm and overcome this personal obstacle.
Dependence inhibits transcendence.
That’s the key here, in the long run the world and body matter not, not the words and not the thoughts, and the art of meditation is to live by this creed. When Buddha preached detachment he meant it internally not visually or verbally and it’s done with your meditation practice. This doctrine really encompasses everything that the mind and life can throw at you. During meditation you let go of everything because that which pulled your attention away from Eternity and connected it to the body is life in general and now that’s the link You (the Soul) need to transcend. It’s not easy and the purpose of this article is based on efficiency because austerities and bad practices are time and mind consuming, originally designed to reign in the restless mind, which meditation and contemplation already tackles.
The world is demanding all of our time and there needs to be spiritual efficiency for today’s busy person.
I’m trying to funnel your focus to the heart of the matter thereby giving you free-agent status to save your money and spend your time more wisely. No longer will you need the fragile security of religions and paths that require mundane rituals with no real benefits. No sense in spinning your wheels when immediate traction can be had with a good meditation practice. There is no better worship than that and there is nothing better for your spiritual development than applying yourself directly to the search within.