In our linked up world we have access to almost all possible information at almost any moment. In spiritual regard this is sometimes a blessing, but sometimes not. For the one who knows exactly what he needs it is a blessing. For the one who does not know it leads into a maze – which is largely due to the fact that he does not know that he is in a maze.
Everyone, whether spiritually inclined or not, is in search of who he really is because everyone instinctively knows that only this knowledge will give him peace. He anticipates that he is more than the limited, dependent being that he takes himself to be. But he does not know further details, on the contrary: what he was born with is pure ignorance about his true nature. So he needs information. As mentioned above, information exists in the abundance: that’s why it is a blessing.
Now to the maze: someone who has lost his way is lucky if he has a map at hand – however, only if he knows where he is. Otherwise the map is completely useless. Likewise the spiritual seeker must first of all know about his own position. What dawns on him in the course of finding that, is that actually something always seems to be missing, i.e. he constantly feels incomplete. This is his status quo.
Will this take him to his goal? No, not yet. Just as the one who is lost the seeker needs a second piece of information. He needs to know where he wants to go. However, even this does not suffice. It needs to be the right map. The lost one who knows his position, who knows where he wants to go and has the proper map at hand, will probably reach his goal. The spiritual seeker who feels incomplete, who knows that he wants to feel complete and receives information about how to get this completeness will still not necessarily achieve his aim. Here ends our analogy.
Why does he not achieve his aim? Because he does not completely grasp his actual state. The seeker knows about the symptom – the feeling of incompleteness – but not about the ‘disease’, i.e. the cause of the symptom. If he treats the symptom, it may disappear temporarily. However, because the underlying ‘disease’ continues to exist, the symptom will keep re-appearing. Only the knowledge about the cause decides whether the seeker has a chance to achieve his aim, completeness. As long as he treats the symptom – ’something is missing’ – he is likely to drown in the abundance of offers that promise him completeness.
Does he need energy work? Feng Shui? Or mental training? Maybe he should buy a pendulum? Should he turn to light work or rather make contact with elementary ghosts? Buddhist writings are very inspiring, the Talmud is great too, but somehow both do not seem to be effective. Maybe completeness is hidden in one of those many alternative healing methods or rather with channeled beings? How about angels? Even better, archangels! One could also try out magic or simply ask the tarot cards. Meditation is quite soothing but probably before really getting results one has to have a go at more meditation methods – Sufi Whirling for example, or contemplating the question „Who am I?“ Actually it has been a while since the last Satsang, quickly check the Internet which spiritual teacher will pass through next. But probably first, one has to simply create a healthy foundation; a sturdy psychotherapy, that would be it, wouldn´t it! Primal work and later tantra to improve the relationship. Indeed, it certainly won’t work if, on top of it, one does not also learn how to forgive, do a family constellation and investigate one’s own past lives. Psychodrama also is supposed to be very good. Then, of course, quantum healing, the newest hit. Yesterday’s night session with chanting mantras and quotations from the Upanishads was very uplifting, but maybe skilful affirmation would do the job too? Did not a new book come out about it? Unfortunately, next week-end’s vision search has been cancelled. Well, maybe the monastery vacation on Corsica will pull it off. This would also be an opportunity to experiment with the Tibetan death meditation.
This internal dialogue throws a light on the labyrinth in which the seeker can remain his whole life, provided he has enough time and means – always alternating from one hope to the next, again and again the taste of completeness on his tongue, however, never finding the everlasting completeness. Because he does not know the cause but only the symptom, he cannot possibly find completion. The all-decisive question is: what is the cause for the feeling of incompleteness?
If the feeling of incompleteness was based on the fact that really something was missing, then one would just have to find the missing thing and incompleteness would be fixed. All seeking is based on this consideration. The problem is that nobody can say with certainty what is the missing thing, thus the seeker depends on trying out one thing after the other; a frustrating undertaking because most never find out what the missing thing is.
Vedanta, however, is based on the assumption that the feeling of incompleteness is not based on an actual incompleteness. Why it is there then? Answer: It is based on an error in reasoning – consisting in the assumption that just because it feels that way, something actually must be missing. However, it can also feel that way because we are unable to recognize our actual completeness. Vedanta says that we are already complete, nothing is missing but as we do not know this we constantly feel that something lacks. Because we do not know that actually nothing at all is lacking, we incessantly search for the missing thing that could make us complete – all the while overlooking the perfect fullness that we already are.
Now, there is no proof of the fact that it is so. It is written in the Upanishads, the enlightened maintain it, but who knows?? First of all it is a matter of establishing clearly that all answers can be right or wrong. Next it is worthwhile recalling our own life. Most already have tried out a huge amount of things and have had the same experience over and over again: what was promised may have arrived but it did not stay. The feeling that something lacks is still there. Of course one can continue one’s search in the usual manner, and maybe, maybe, at some point the right thing will be found.
However, one could also try something else: simply assume that one is in search of something that one already is. That one wants to have something that one already has. And then?
This turnaround is a small revolution because with one blow one can stop constantly looking around for new ways and methods somewhere in the psychological-esoteric-spiritual scene. It is not any more about activities, because no activity can get me what is there anyway already. I do not need to go anywhere anymore. Because activities are not the solution, I can put aside all those enumerated means. This does not mean that I stop meditating, give Reiki, sing mantras or book some kind of a session from time to time – I just do not expect anymore that anything like this will release me from the basic notion that I lack something. By the way, it also does not mean that everything I have tried up till now has been a pure waste of energy. Many of these methods help the seeker in the preparation on the path of knowledge (even if not all).
Now I can direct my attention to the one and only thing I really lack, namely the knowledge of what I am anyway already. And how do I do this? I turn to those, who do not seem to lack this knowledge any more. Only a teacher who knows about our true non-duality can help me to attain the knowledge. Why? Because I myself can interpret my experiences only from the perspective of my ignorance and thereby always come to wrong conclusions. If I could bump into the truth all by myself, I would have already found it. I necessarily need a corrective. Only someone who has overcome his ignorance can guide me to gain the perspective of the knowledge that I lack.
But could I not simply study spiritual texts? No, because in my ignorance I am not able to properly interpret even real sources of knowledge. Unfortunately, this is how it is. Of course I can and will go on reading spiritual books and listen to spiritual teachers, as long as I have not found ‘my’ teacher. But it is better to find him/her.
The next essay deals with the search for the teacher – which kind of a teacher I would need, how to find him/her and how the work with him/her may look like.