Thursday, November 20, 2014

Transforming the Egoic Obsession with Being Right

It never fails to amaze me how we as human beings are more concerned with being right rather than being happy. In fact, I am slightly in awe of the depth and strength of this innate part of the design of human being. What lies behind this need to be right? For me, it's about control.

The only way to be able to control life is to be right. This allows you to harbor the illusion that you are in control, which, in turn, provides temporary relief. But if you examine this closely, how much control over your life do you really have? And is the amount of control that you do have enough to induce you to relinquish the possibility of spiritual self-understanding that results when you renounce your obsessive need for control.
Graph of the control impulse

This month my book Female Kundalini was published. Had I not been prepared to give up being right — the belief that I had to stick with Buddhism to become spiritually awakened — writing about the journey I share in my book would not have been possible. The cost of forfeiting "being right" is nothing less than, at best, spiritual awakening and, at worst, enlightenment.

Female Kundalini cover
Having been a spiritual seeker for most of my life, I now see the futility of the search. So, instead of being right about the value of the spiritual search and increasing my "searching," I am turning to the path of  devotion: giving up being right about the search by trusting and surrendering that I am already what I seek to be and that all will be revealed to me in time. It is this willingness to give up being right about the search that has made the path of devotion, which I have taken on, so powerful in terms of the realizations and experiences I frequently have. 

It is the ego that wants to be right because being right guarantees its survival. The minute you give up being right, you transcend the ego, resulting in an experience of peace and bliss. It’s not possible to be right and be happy at the same time; only one of the two can be present and active at any one time. 

Hnads clasped in prayerThe path of devotion is a path of turning away from the ego. Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion. For many years during my search, I pursued a rational scientific explanation to account for the experiences I was having. Many thought that this was disrespectful of me, not to honor those experiences as the precious events they were. I listened to these opinions, but I still pursued a rational explanation, which I go into detail about in my book. Looking back now, I see that by pursuing a rational explanation I was turning away from the ego. This turning away from ego to science was a form of devotion in that it served to take away attention from the ego so that the effects of Kundalini could integrate with minimal ego involvement. What is important is the turning, not so much what you turn to.

This then begs the question about those who turn to the path of devotion. If devotion was all that was necessary, you'd think there'd be more success stories of  spiritual awakening/enlightenment. Thousands practice Bhakti yoga, yet thousands are not awakened spiritually. If what I am saying is true, then why are there not more awakened and/or enlightened people in the world? This is a valid question, one I have pondered for the last couple of years. It has to do with the other aspects involved in awakening: self-observation, self-understanding, and taking responsibility for what is discovered.  

Cat thinks he's a lion.
If spiritual awakening is to happen, human beings must find the courage to engage in intense self-observation in order to derive self-understanding.  Such introspection results in taking responsibility, which is not the same as blame. Taking responsibility means I, the creator and source of my life, am dedicated to uncovering the deep patterns that drive every aspect of our inner life, i.e., thoughts, feelings, negative emotions, actions. Without intensive inner work, the path of devotion is not complete. This is why I continue to do transformational self-development seminars from time to time so that I can uncover deep seated patterns, take responsibility for them, and then hand them over to my Guru so that He can make them obsolete through non-use. I have learned a lesson from people who have written posts naming Gurus and so I’m not going to fall into the trap of naming Him here.  

The path of devotion together with the conscious process of self-observation and self-understanding is effective, yet such a path is viewed with deep suspicion in our western culture, particularly the aspect of devotion to a Guru. Yet, the word Guru means from dark to light — so the Guru takes the consciousness from the dark to the light. It is ironic that I now advocate the path of devotion and responsibility because, many years ago, I saw how a self-proclaimed Guru turned out to have feet of clay, which caused emotional distress among his followers. At that time, I declared that having a Guru was something I was never again going to do. What I learned by taking this stance is that to say "never" to anything is to awaken the play instinct of the Divine. Now, never is a declaration which I am vigilant about not making.

There is something about the path of devotion which threatens the ego. If it is a turning away of the consciousness from ego to something else, then in time, it will result in the ego being transcended. When I spoke about the path of devotion to a friend and told her the name of my Guru, she immediately came back to me with a Wikipedia article discrediting my Guru. What my friend didn't know was that I have already read everything that has been written about Him and it has made absolutely no difference because my heart has recognized and responded, and that is that.

It is only when you put your ass on the line for something that you become someone and I am putting my ass on the line for whatever length of time I have left on this mortal earth in service and devotion to this Guru, fully trusting that He is who he says He is and that He can do what I cannot by virtue of me being an ego. I have often written that doing this path by yourself is like the thief turning detective to catch itself; it's not possible. After so many years of searching I can validate this through my own experience. It is only now that I feel sufficiently safe on this path of devotion to let go of the need to validate my experiences by rational scientific explanations.

Solitary devotionI propose that each reader ask him/her self the question "How far has my searching got me?" See if being honest and authentic about this doesn't bring another realization — that "searching" just keeps the search going. It keeps the game of hide and seek between the Self and the not-Self — the Ego and the Soul — going. Recognizing that there is no search (because YOU already are THAT) and turning the attention from the search to the path of devotion, self-observation, and self-understanding is altogether more enlightening and way more enjoyable than the endless round of elation followed by disillusion and disappointment which often characterizes the search.

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