Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spiritual materialism: nothing or something

Click to get cool Animations for your MySpace profile
MySpace Codes!
Last week I had to meet some person who said he is teaching yoga and that he wished to set up a yoga magazine. I told him that I may not suit his purposes because I am not really mainstream. He suddenly jumped, flicked his fingers at his co-worker, saying,"We must leave now. She is not interested." I found his behavior rather overweening and realised all this is what can make you a wreck in the  real world of yoga. His ego was so hurt, he left his bag behind, then he put on a dramatic tone to his voice after foolishly collecting his bag, and took a sweet from the clump I leave for my students and left in a huff. He acted like he was a great guru whose value I was too foolish to appreciate.

I hope, on my bad days, I do not behave in that silly fashion!!

Click to get cool Animations for your MySpace profile
MySpace Codes!
It was a good lesson. And a reminder how if you do not watch it, your interest in yoga can ruin your goal if you shift your attention to its material needs or the halo, it seems to confer on some people. I wish to share. But I do not wish to do all this nakhras that these yoga lovers are doing. In many of yoga lovers, something goes to their head and instead of becoming humble or giving, they become demanding and greedy. (yes, I also charge a fee, ha ha:) You can see it all over the place, behind the tide of interest this subject has regenerated.

Here, from an article I wrote a while ago:

Here is what the Gita says on the real renounciation: "None who has not renounced the mental world, has any title to the name of yogin'. Why so? In Yogavashishtha, the treatise which records Sage Vashishtha's advice to a young Lord Ram, gives the answer. "That which to false vision, sets up the Anatman in place of Atman, shadows forth a thing in no-thing. This, oh Raghava, is that which we describe as `thinking.'" Another Vedantic saying in the Smriti compares pride in learning to love of life and fear of the world. Adi Shankaracharya who is rather dismissive of arrogance that comes from excessive intellectualization of the spiritual as well as overemphasis on rituals, says in his Vivekachudamani that the divine may never   be seen by one who indulges in `constant washing, by giving gifts, nay not even by a hundred pranayamas.'

The controversial guru Chogyam Tungpa has written an entire book on this difficult ground of spiritual materialism. In this book Cutting through spiritual materialism he writes of how the daughters of Mara, as symbolized by Tantric Buddhism, can invade even our spiritual equanimity with irresistible seduction. The soft inner voice in our minds can be said to represent their viles. Tungpa says these voices can make us believe that this equanimity is the result of our higher spiritual sadhana, making us feel that this is a `big deal'. He adds: "Then we begin to give birth to further samsaric patterns of mind. It is similar to the Christian idea of biting the apple. It is temptation. When we regard abhisheka or initiation as sacred, then the precision and sharpness immediately begins to fall away because we have begun to evaluate."  

 When the great Tibetan Yogi Milarepa is in a state of transition  from a meditating monk to that of a self-realised yogi, his sister Peta who had suffered several tribulations and is reduced to begging on the streets, has an idea on how he can become a famous and rich monk. She tells her brother that she is ashamed of his renounced state, his nakedness, his thinness and his misguided search for self-realisation. Instead he should now become a low-level follower of this famous Master or Lama Bari Lotsa Wa who wears silk, is surrounded by hundreds of devotees, performs miracles to show his powers, rides a palanquin and is revered so much by every body who encounters him. She tells Milarepa, "You should now become his disciple." Milarepa tries to convince her that such materialism in the name of spiritualism can only give short-term pleasures. But his own withdrawal from such spiritual showmanship was actually in line with his quest for eternity. In fact, throughout his initial phase as a renunciate Milarepa has to suffer more than other ascetics because of his earlier accumulation of spiritual prowess. He has to wash out the effects of these powers acquired as sorcery and power over the natural elements. His master Marpa in fact ensures that Milarepa suffers  in order to purify himself and make himself worthy for his actual quest which is to attain self-realisation. The moral of this story is that one must renounce everything, including spiritual powers.

Click to get cool Animations for your MySpace profile
Free MySpace Animations!

1 comment:

evnathan said...

A treat to read the concepts from Yoga Vashishta, Viveka Chudamani, and Milarepa. Bhikshu Gita is also something like Milarepa. Every where the core point is getting rid of the 'I 'the great rouble maker.