I was casually exchanging mails with a satsangi and the topic shifted through lot of things that I'm doing or not doing and whether I'm confused. That led to a series of mails where I wrote up things that I was reserving for some blog entries. Instead I'll blog those mails in a dialogue, my friend here will be marked as MU:
me: I'm sure you may be thinking that I'm confused. And let me agree this time that due to so much of running around in the past, I'm kinda confused on things that I'll pursue being in Vasai. Maybe, all in good time! :)
MU: Confusion on the spiritual path is probably not uncommon..I'm sure that as you settle down, you will find your way.
me: Just to clarify, you too meant confusion (in worldly matters) on the spiritual path, right? :)
MU: Confusion, not necessarily, in worldly matters only - even in the spiritual path itself - I had a friend in the US who came to India, became a Sanyasin and then associated with so many gurus that finally he was confused as to which guru to follow, then another who is married with a child & is confused about how he can do rigorous sadhana given his station in life...in fact, in my opinion, confusion is the norm in spiritual life rather than certainty! :-) Hence the need for a guru!
me: Doesn't "hence the need for a Guru" and "confused about which Guru to follow" seem contradictory? And thats life, worldly life! :)
Well, to me, both the matters are essentially worldly. Spiritual path begins only on following principles that lead to moksha. Taking from the example and not specifically commenting on your friend, being confused about which guru to follow, having followed many, is akin to which path to follow, be it bhakti, yoga or jnAna or even in really spiritual details of Advaita Vedanta, whether to follow Bhamati or Vivarana(*), etc. If one doesn't know what to follow, if there's no faith/ understanding of the path, then the very step in the so-called spiritual journey was hurrying without being prepared for it or maybe smashAna vairAgya. I think a better way would be to stick on to guru who initiated one into saMnyAsa, if not identify a guru and then take to saMnyAsa.
The other end of how to do rigorous sAdhana while being a family-man is also a worldly thing, and actually defeating dharma. If the person is unwilling to take to saMnyAsAshrama, then he needs to do sAdhana thats agreeable with his family responsibilites, rigorous has no meaning left then.
In either case, therefore, the spiritual journey has hardly begun and confusion is in the worldly. I know this because I fall in the latter category of "how to do rigorous sAdhana being in Vasai" kinds and think that confusion is worldly... with Guru's grace, I'm clear about spiritual path in little bits that I've read/ followed. :) As I live in hope, all in good time. :)
[*Bhamati or Vivarana, etc: If one becomes confused between these, there are only two options, select one that you agree strongly with, or find a common ground between the two; it surely exists. Picking either or both mean the same thing to me, because both do take one to moksha! Unfortunately, most of us stay clear of both because they seem contradictory in others' opinion (or to us)! :)
MU: On a lighter note, I said "hence the need for a (note singular :-)) guru".
me: Yes, that did pass my mind :) Sadly though, lives pass by many Gurus till one really gets the one!
MU: I may have mentioned this to you before but would like to reiterate it in this context in particular in that, according to SwAmi PArthasArthy, spirituality is not tied into your station in life. One may choose sanyAsa if it follows the grain of ones nature but a householder too is equally capable of achieving mokshA. There are hurdles in each path, albeit of different kinds, but the goal can be reached via both.
me: Agreed, the goal can be reached by both... why only two, it can be reached via gazillion paths. Thats the reason I said that one needs to pick and walk on what one is ready for, including circumstantially available path, which in turn, I strongly believe (as per karma) is based on how much one is ready. So, there's no point in insisting one should do "rigorous sAdhana" within family life.
MU: If I am not mistaken, according to traditional VedAnta, sanyAsa is a must for mokshA. Therefore, I am curious, can you tell me what you mean when you say:
>> Spiritual path begins only on following principles that lead to moksha.
>> with Guru's grace, I'm clear about spiritual path in little bits
What are these principles? Can you share them with me briefly?
me: Yes... I was quite careful in wording myself as you can see below... :) ...
>> Spiritual path begins only on following principles that lead to moksha.
A path that *begins*, leading to moksha, need not end at the beginning. In that, vairAgya is not something that one enforces, it comes naturally to one ready for the spiritual path. Similarly, AFAIK, saMnyAsa will consume the person ready for moksha.
I've said this earlier, but will repeat myself again and again. The principles are the same: developing sAdhana cAtushTaya, not really worrying about how many different paths are there, who'll be the right Guru, whether I can do things within family life, can I ever be capable of giving up and take to saMnyAsa, etc. That development, at the right step, will take the person to the next door that one needs to walk into (or in liberation terms, walk out of).
Anything that seems inconsistent is because of lack of shraddha that comes from sAdhana cAtushTaya itself. And I'm yet to find anyone, be it any path one follows, or any grihasta Guru, or a saMnyAsi Guru, who'd disagree with anything in the sAdhana cAtushTaya! Thats the beauty of traditional vedAnta: going back to basics makes a foundation of solutions for the most complex of problems. There is a common ground to everything in the shruti, it can never be contradictory... meaning the principles are definitely the same.
I'd like to play one final note, drawing an analog of the spiritual principles with education system. The somewhat anything-goes-attitude of the non-traditional systems, without initial sAdhana cAtushTaya (not necessarily rigorous) is akin to my wanting to do rocket science engg. without basic physics background. Enough said, I suppose. :)
MU: Ok, thanks for your inputs. Sorry, if my questions were a little repetitive (and hence irritating). I agree that sAdhana cAtushTaya is imperative for mokshA but it has never been easy for me to understand how to implement it in life. Just reading that one should develop viveka, vairAgya, etc sounds good but how does one do it in practice is the more difficult question. Hence attending lectures by SwAmiji's disciples helps me tremendously. It has been over two years that I have been attending these lectures and it is only recently that some glimmer of light is visible to me....and it is only a glimmer..I see only inklings of the path to follow...
me: Nah, nah, apologies if I sounded irritated. I wasn't. Its just that we all expect a different answer every time we ask the same Q on spiritual front, perhaps something easier, or maybe a short cut. IMHO, such a thing doesn't exist; else the laziest person on earth that I am would definitely grab it! :)
Precisely so. I'm sure you'd agree that even the disciples of Swamiji may have delivered the same thing that you may have heard earlier or read in Swamiji's books, albeit in various packages. Its only on repetitive reading or hearing (shravaNa), through various angles at times, that the concept gets down deep. I've one understanding that I blabber on my blog every now and then... that the understanding should become a habit (manana) to such an extent that the theoretical reading should get deeper and deeper, to reach even our dreams. Thats how its practiced, AFAIK, becoming a part of us (niddhidhyAsana).
hari Om tat sat