'Be a student not a follower' Jim Rohn
"The search for truth is neither new nor old... Nobody is a founder in it, nobody is a leader in it. It is such a vast phenomenon that many enlightened people have appeared, helped and disappeared."
As a bee seeks nectar
from all kinds of flowers,
seek teachings everywhere,
a quiet place to graze, seek seclusion to digest
all you have gathered.
Like a madman,
beyond all limits,
go wherever you please;
a live like a lion,
completely free of all fear.
A Tantra of Zogqen
In Jack Kornfield's fine book, A Path with Heart, he opens with a passage from the writings of Carlos Castaneda. Don Juan, the master guide, says:
"Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use."
A Path with Heart, Jack Kornfield, p 12.
The most important thing is not to get trapped in what I see everywhere in the West, a shopping mentality: shopping around from master to master, teaching to teaching, without any continuity or real, sustained dedication to any one discipline. Nearly all the great spiritual masters of all traditions agree that the essential thing is to master one way, one path to the truth, by following one tradition with all your heart and mind to the end of the spiritual journey, while, of course, remaining open and respectful toward the insights of all others. In Tibet we used to say: knowing one, you accomplish all. The modem faddish idea that we can always keep all our options open and so never need commit ourselves to anything is one of the greatest and most dangerous delusions of our culture, and one of egos most effective ways of sabotaging our spiritual search.
Finding a Spiritual Master / Teacher / Guru / Mentor and Following Him / Her
When you have explored the great mystical traditions, choose one master and follow him or her. Its one thing to set out on the spiritual journey; its quite another to find the patience and endurance, the wisdom, courage, and humility to follow it to the end. You may have the karma to find a teacher, but you must then create the karma to follow your teacher. For very few of us know how truly to follow a master, which is an art in itself. So however great the teaching or master may be, what is essential is that you find in yourself the insight and skill to learn how to love and follow the master and the teaching.
You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, What did that man pick up? He picked up a piece of Truth, said the devil. That is a very bad business for you, then, said his friend. Oh, not at all, the devil replied, I am going to help him organize it.
I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices.
© 2002 Krishnamurti Foundation of America [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
P.O. Box 1560, Ojai, CA 93024
Again and again we need to appreciate the subtle workings of the teachings and the practice, and even when there is no extraordinary, dramatic change, to persevere with calm and patience. How important it is to be skillful and gentle with ourselves, without becoming disheartened or giving up, but trusting the spiritual path and knowing that it has its own laws and its own dynamics.
Dont be in too much of a hurry to solve all your doubts and problems. As the masters say: Make haste slowly. I always tell my students not to have unreasonable expectations, because it takes time for spiritual growth. It takes years to learn Japanese properly or to become a doctor. Can we really expect to have all the answers, let alone become enlightened, in a few weeks?
The spiritual journey is one of continuous learning and purification. When you know this, you become humble. There is a famous Tibetan saying: Do not mistake understanding for realization, and do not mistake realization for liberation. And Milarepa said: Do not entertain hopes for realization, but practice all your life.
"There is only one journey. Going
Rainer Marie Rilke
The inner journey
The teachings tell us what it is we need to realize, but we also have to go on our own journey, in order to come to a personal realization. That journey may take us through suffering, difficulties, and doubts of all kinds, but they will become our greatest teachers. Through them we will learn the humility to recognize our limitations, and through them we will discover the inner strength and fearlessness we need to emerge from our old habits and set patterns, and surrender into the vaster vision of real freedom offered by the spiritual teachings. Sogyal Rinpoche
When little obstacles crop up on the spiritual path, a good practitioner does not lose faith and begin to doubt, but has the discernment to recognize difficulties, whatever they may be, for what they arejust obstacles, and nothing more. It is the nature of things that when you recognize an obstacle as such, it ceases to be an obstacle. Equally, it is by failing to recognize an obstacle for what it is, and therefore taking it seriously, that it is empowered and solidified and becomes a real blockage.
(Q) What is the right road for me to take which I have not yet found?
(A) As indicated, first know what is thy ideal! There is none other. Let it be in the spiritual forces, not in the material. Seek to know the Christ Consciousness!
(Q) Why are there opposing forces in me that cause conflict and confusion?
(A) As has been seen through the experiences in the earth; yet will to do that thou knowest today, and then it will be given thee what to do tomorrow. 1167-2
Seek first, then, within self as to what is thy ideal. Hold fast, thou, to that strength as thou perceived that prompted the hearts and minds and bodies of those that served their fellow man without seeking for self-glorification. And with thy ideal set in the spiritual things, ye may find and ye will know the truth that was in Him. For the truth shall indeed make you free, when ye come to the understanding of same as ye apply it in thy relations to thy fellow man. 877-1
At that moment the holy revered White Mahapadmakumara instructed the assembly saying " In cultivation, the key to realizing the Buddha Jewel Sambodhi is a quiescent mind; that of realizing the Dharma Jewel is purity of body, speech, and mind; and that of realizng the Sangha Jewel is refuge in a True Buddha Guru"
When little obstacles crop up on the spiritual path, a good practitioner does not lose faith and begin to doubt, but has the discernment to recognize difficulties, whatever they may be, for what they are—just obstacles, and nothing more. It is the nature of things that when you recognize an obstacle as such, it ceases to be an obstacle. Equally, it is by failing to recognize an obstacle for what it is, and therefore taking it seriously, that it is empowered and solidified and becomes a real blockage.
- Sogyal Rinpoche
Searching can become an obsession
We all have the karma to take one spiritual path or another, and I would encourage you, from the bottom of my heart, to follow with complete sincerity the path that inspires you most.
If you go on searching all the time, the searching itself becomes an obsession and takes you over. You become a spiritual tourist, bustling about and never getting anywhere. As Patrul Rinpoche says: You leave your elephant at home and look for its footprints in the forest. Following one teaching is not a way of confining you or jealously monopolizing you. Its a compassionate and practical way of keeping you centered and always on your path, despite all the obstacles that you, and the world, will inevitably present.
The search for truth is fraught with obstacles and disappointments. Sincere seeking means making many choices along the way, and selecting one way at a crossroads means foreclosing another way. Even though mistakes and errors sometimes arise-even though gains along the way are offset by losses-keep true to your search and the ideal that inspires it.
17 / Seeking, The I Ching
For more details see our related page on Pitfalls on the Spiritual path
Putting off practice
While having every intention of studying and practicing Dharma,
you may well keep putting it off until tomorrow
or the next day, day by day, all your life.
You must avoid a whole human lifetime forever planning to practice.
"We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal and then leap in the dark to our success."
- Henry David Thoreau
It is not enough for you to read or believe the truth. You need to experience it for yourself. You need to know it!
Be still and know that I AM GOD!
Hopefully the fact that you are looking at this page means you are interested in finding the Truth for yourself.
The path to the Truth can be different for everyone. On this journey one experiences many paradigm shifts (points of view on life change). This is especially true as the ego becomes toned down.
So one day you may be annoyed with a person. The next day you realize that person needs help and the only reason you are annoyed with them is because you are annoyed with yourself - people don't like in others what they don't like about themselves. So the day after that if something 'bad' happens you either put it down to karma or you bless the people involved!
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