More and more it seems that the traditional Vedanta method of slowing working through our identifications and illusions, slowing breaking them down and uprooting our default beliefs, is more helpful than just pointing out the ultimate which is that you are already whole, that reality is already whole. Either that resonates and we're just nodding our heads in agreement, or we're left scratching our heads because from our perspective it just doesn't make any sense. Unless we just make a leap of faith, these absolute pointers are somewhat limited.
So let's just have a conversation, over several weeks, about our ideas, our beliefs, our assumptions. Let's start taking them apart - feel free to comment and we can have a discussion about it.
The most important thing we can do in spirituality is to really be honest, really get to the bottom of our existing ideas. We tend to overlook this and then try to plunge headfirst into the pointers or challenges - leaving these ideas in tact while trying to make sense of the teachings. It's a recipe for frustration. Therefore let's start by really getting to the bottom of what we now believe reality is, what we NOW believe that WE ARE, yes? It is critical to really understand what we THINK we are.
We believe that the universe came about in a big bang, a infinitely small but infinitely powerful particle exploded and expanded in all directions - this became the universe - a collection of parts - each created individually - each existing individually - from nothing each part is created, then it runs it's course and eventually ceases, dies, dissolves. This means the universe is an infinite collection of separate existences, THINGS, parts, pieces.
Eventually bodies spring up one way or another. A Body is a product of the mother and father, cells combine and that original "cell" fertilizes, grows, morphs into a fetus, the necessary organs form and eventually that fetus kicks it's way out of the womb - then we call it an infant. After 9 months we say it's born.
At this point we must stop and really take a good look at what our beliefs are about this "thing", this fetus, this infant, this mass of cells, this fertilized seed. We believe the mother and father are "people" - what does that mean? They are individuals, entities, which is a fancy way of saying - they are separate. They were also born and grew to this point. Once this seed is fertilized, it grows the proper way and eventually a "person" is formed, another "life". Therefore this fetus is another person, another life, another entity, therefore another separate existence, yes?
From these two seeds, the mother and father, the new separate existence is born. This existence was not there before. It did not exist, then because of this process it began existing, yes? From nowhere it came into existence - then it will exist a while and ultimately will cease to exist again. Isn't this entity what you take yourself to be? Isn't this root idea of beginning, this temporary nature of existence, isn't this the root idea you have about yourself? Isn't it in fact the idea you have about reality? This universe of things? Isn't your root idea of reality that it is made up of separate, individual, temporary existences?
Now consider that you are entertaining spirituality, not just spirituality in general, not some New Age thing where we must all hug and get along, but serious spirituality where we are questioning your very existence as a separate being, inquiring "who am I"? Are you running along in this search, trying to find Wholeness or Oneness or somesuch, while retaining this idea that YOU, in fact EXISTENCE itself, is separate?
Can you see that continuing to have this default set of assumptions or beliefs in tact while pursuing and hoping after some generic idea of "Oneness" is fantasy? We wonder why we "aren't there yet" or just have an "intellectual understanding". We must really get to the root idea of what our ideas are, uncover them, really get a good understanding of this idea we have about ourselves and the universe. We must be serious and earnest about it.
Consider what you take yourself to be, then consider what you are searching for, or consider what this teaching is telling you. You were never born, you are not separate, you will never die. How can you reconcile that with your beliefs about what you are? You cannot do it, ever. So something has to give.
The advice is to put all these pointers aside for a while, just do some serious soul-searching - pun definitely intended. Don't stop until you have a crystal-clear picture of what it is you take yourself to be, of what it is you take reality to be. For Vedanta says that reality is Advaita - Advaita means "not-two". Reality is already nondual, not separate. Reality is called "Brahman" - and ultimately there is no difference between Self and Brahman.
So before we can really understand this we must truly understand where we think we are now. Ponder that with earnest and we'll begin to dive into these ideas over the next several weeks.