Writing down this post today has taken seven years of a spiritual journey. Ravi, a dear friend, inspired me to write this post. He is right when he says, why not share your stories and spiritual experiences. He reminded me again in my last post.
My devotional story is covered in the ‘Book of Faith,’ so I have faced this question very, very often: “Please share your spiritual experiences.”
Before you read further, please know that my understanding could be full of flaws, and I am a work-in-progress. I would not respond to arguments on this post; it has taken me seven painful years to arrive at this understanding. If you have questions, I urge you to reach out to your Guru; if you don’t have a physical Guru, you could reach out to the inner one. Stop not till you get your answers; if you persist, you will get your answers – the real one, your truth.
In his latest video, Om Swamiji shared a story. It is in Hindi, hence sharing the story here for the English-speaking audience.
There was a monastery on the outskirts of a village. For anybody to stay in this monastery, they had to first do a spiritual debate with the highest authority of the monastery. Only if you win, you can stay and as long as you like. Once the monastery head finds out that there is a highly qualified scholar-monk passing by the village who plans to come and stay in the monastery. Nervous with the thought of losing the debate, he decides to send his younger brother in his place. The younger brother is a person with limited knowledge and can only do things like cleaning, moving grain sacks and laborious work. He also has only one eye. “How would I face the scholar, I don’t know anything?” The monastery head says, “Don’t worry. If you don’t say anything, you will be fine. Just keep quiet.”
The scholar arrives and takes his seat facing the one-eyed young man. After a long silence, the guest scholar starts to feel nervous. He feels that I am facing a very learned man and I may not win this conversation. So he raises his hand with his index finger. The one-eyed young man in response raises his hand with index and ring finger. The guest scholar is wowed by the response and then he raises three fingers. In return, the one-eyed young man raises a fist. The guest scholar gets up and quickly walks away, realizing that he has already lost. The head of the monastery happily walks in looking for his younger one-eyed brother and pats his back. He says, “I am so proud of you, brother. I didn’t know you were such a scholar. I just met the gentleman when he was walking out; he was praising you. He said I raised one finger, stating that there is only one god, and you replied by raising two fingers stating that duality still exists. He raised three fingers in return stating that there are also three Gunas of Satva, Rajas, and Tamas and you raised your fist stating ultimately, only the Power of God prevails.”
The younger brother looked irritated, “Brother, he is a liar. Why did you let him go? I was going to thrash him now. In the debate, he raised his hand with index finger telling me that I only have one eye. I was shocked by his rudeness, but he is our guest, so I still was nice to him by raising two fingers stating that it’s great he has two eyes. Look at his audacity, in return he raised three fingers saying that in total between two of us we have only three eyes. Then, I could not take any more. I raised my fist to tell him that now I will thrash you!”
Swamiji says a person can understand any concept, any idea based on his capacity.
When I share a spiritual experience, do I know the capacity of the person to understand what I am conveying? The answer has always been no. I do not know the capacity of the person. And I feel only Siddhas can because they can feel the other person in their skin. Unfortunately, I cannot.
I was talking to Melissa last week, and she reminded me of what I had told her a couple of years ago. She had asked me the same question, “Di, how do I know if I can share my spiritual experiences with my friends?” I asked her to please answer these questions for herself,
- What I am about to share will help this person in his spiritual growth?
- Is my share going to weaken this person with jealousy or inferiority complex?
- Is it going to strengthen his/her faith, or you are leaving this person with a question – why has it not happened to me?
- If your experience is the outcome of your sadhana, is this validated by your Guru? And if yes, then have you taken his permission to share it with the world? (I added this one just now)
It’s already very hard and it takes a lot of courage as well as a brave heart to walk on the path of self-discovery. The least you’d want is to derail yourself. It’s not that I don’t share spiritual experiences, but these questions protect me from losing my spiritual purity. How?
By the time you answer the fourth question, you would have gone through a journey of self-contemplation to understand your intention behind the desire to share. Why do you want to share? Is it self-acknowledgment? Is it to get back to someone? To show that I am special? Or important? It’s hard to answer these questions because the human element in us can take us for a ride if we are not self-aware. But only we would know ourselves best and detect our true intentions, and I feel that these questions help. If the purity of intention is there, it’s a different matter.
On the other hand, it’s heavy to take and carry the Karma of being ignorant and unknowingly misleading someone. Imagine unknowingly you may hurt and do more harm to someone’s self-esteem. One may start thinking: “I was never good enough, and now I realize I am not even good enough to walk on this path.”
I was a toddler in Alice’s wonderland on my first visit to Sri Badrika Ashram. From the moment I stepped into that world, all I was listening to was people’s spiritual experiences. My organic mind tried to understand and grasp those new ideas and this newfound mystical world :D. I got introduced to the concept of Sri Vidya Sadhana and the likes. I was overwhelmed and exhausted with the overdose of information and stories. These were all well-meaning and few of the most beautiful people I had ever met before. Today, looking back, I realize it was an important experience that has led me to empathize with everyone on this path. As a seeker, I know what it exactly feels like, to feel intimidated by others’ stories.
I mean, millions of us have been inspired by the writings of spiritual masters. Someone gifted me “Autobiography of a Yogi”. I read the first two pages and couldn’t read further. It makes me wonder: Who takes the responsibility of coloring the mind of a seeker with all these stories? Isn’t it real and human to start expecting the same or at least similar experiences as those written in the books, even with a daily 10 minutes meditation? I remember meeting a youngster in 2018. He had been practicing meditation for the last ten years already. I was wowed with his knowledge and the number of spiritual books he had read. I am still in touch with him, and it pains my heart to share with you that nothing much has changed for him. He still carries with him what he has read in those books and waiting for those things to happen in his life.
Spiritual experiences are unfolding every moment around us, it’s not special for some exclusive people. Everyone is special, we so need each other to experience these miracles. Unless I can say thank you, how would I understand the miracle of gratitude? If I am not able to help you today, how would I understand the blessing of service?
If you ask me, what I look for when I meet fellow spiritual seekers, I always want them to hold my hand and dance with me in singing the glories of divine, maybe some devotion of yours will rub off on me to move forward.
Choice of words in practicing speech for the sake of compassion is Buddha’s way; making you think and challenge your ideas is Om Swami’s way. What is yours?
My daughter shared something extraordinary yesterday. The original quote is by Ram Dass – “We’re all just walking each other home.” Leaving you with that thought.
Thank you, Komal for helping out to make this post a flawless read.