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False Concepts About the Spiritual Path

As is true in many areas of life, there are more false concepts about something than true concepts, and this is certainly true regarding the spiritual path. Here Bodhinatha speaks on false concepts surrounding meditation and spiritual life, explaining our teaching, in a practical way, for approaching meditation properly and also describing the critical importance of overcoming anger for living a productive spiritual life.

Unedited Transcript:

Oh, the second subject, I was thinking about false concepts. As is true in many areas of life, there are more false concepts about something than true concepts. In this case, the spiritual path. There are more false concepts about the spiritual path than there are true ones. I ran into a few of them recently and I thought I would share them.

We became aware through email, one of our members is working with a neighboring family and the young man there is very keen on meditation. He wants to meditate, wants to learn how to meditate.

Of course, simple meditations benefit everyone. If our goals in meditation are very simple, then great! We encourage everyone to meditate. Meditation will quiet the mind down, make you feel a little more peaceful, give you a little more control of your thoughts. However, the kind of meditation that this young man has in mind is a deeper meditation, the kind that leads to profound realizations.

So, what is the problem? Well, he has a false concept that you can just start, sit down and meditate and if you get the right technique, you can really have profound realizations.

Of course, this is not our teachings. There are some things you have to do first. It is like starting in graduate school or something, rather than kindergarten. It does not work that way.

What do you have to do first? Well, in our terminology of course it is, charya - kriya that comes before yoga. But in just ordinary terminology, trying to explain it to someone - you need to be able to perform humble service, be a great thondar. You need to have cultivated a great love of God, be a great bhaktar. Those are our two prerequisites. Or, said another way, you need charya and kriya. We have actually gone through years of service and devotional practices before we can expect the profound nature of meditation to manifest. That is the correct concept.

But, there are prerequisites here. Even in the Ashtanga yoga, the eight-limbed yoga definition, you start not with meditation but you start with the yamas and the niyamas, which is another form of expression of good conduct, service and devotion. The yamas and the niyamas are the first step toward profound realization.

Here is another false concept.

We have sincere men who are on the path, going along studying Gurudeva's teachings. They get angry and have the concept, "Well, I get angry. So what? It does not influence my spiritual progress. Everything is going along fine, I just get angry. I kind of get upset and get it off my chest."

A classic example is the husband gets frustrated at work, by the actions of his boss. Of course, he cannot complain to his boss, he would lose his job. So, he has to hold it all within. All this frustration is there that he feels against his boss. He comes home and what does he do? He expresses it against his wife because he is allowed to do that. He will lose his job if it gets expressed against the person who he really feels it about. So he comes home and expresses it against his wife. Angry, verbal outbursts happen and hopefully nothing more.

This is quite common in some homes. It is just a pattern. Frustration builds up at work, the man comes home, releases it at home. It happens again and again. It is a pattern.

The false concept is that, "This in no way inhibits my spiritual progress. No, I am going along just fine on the spiritual path. I just have this little way of getting rid of my frustration. I happen to go home and dump it on my wife."

What is wrong with that? Well, he is not understanding that when you get angry at your wife, you are hurting her with your words and threats and this is creating a new negative karma, definitely. It is against ahimsa to hurt somebody with your words. It is creating a karma. It is causing her to experience to one degree or another, the lower emotion of fear and insecurity, drawing her consciousness down rather than raising it up. So, this again is creating a karma.

For the man himself, expressing anger stimulates the lower chakras which draws energy out of the higher chakras, above the muladhara. So the muladhara chakras and above are losing energy to the chakras below the muladhara.

The whole point of spiritual practices is to get the energy in the chakras of the muladhara and above. Anger is putting it below the muladhara. So what do we have? Two simple analogies.

It is like spending all day filling a bathtub and then emptying it. Filling the bathtub is like doing the spiritual practice, we getting energy above the muladhara. Emptying the bathtub is like getting angry. So, after the whole day is done, have we made any progress? Obviously not. The one action is countermanding the other. Even though we are doing spiritual practice during part of the day, the benefit is being destroyed during the other part of the day. At the end of the day, we have not made progress.

Another example, it always makes sense to those who are Capricorns. Working hard to make $200 in cash and then lighting it on fire! Okay, here we work all day, we got our $200 in cash. We come home and we burn it. Have we made any progress during that day? Obviously not. All the fruits of our efforts all day long have been destroyed in this one little action of burning up the cash, $200. Put it in the little pot and burn it up. It is gone!

That is just like working at spiritual activities, getting up in the morning, doing our puja and so forth and then letting ourselves get angry in the evening. We are destroying the results, the benefits of what we did in the morning.

Obviously, we are not making any progress. Obviously, outbursts of anger are not acceptable if you want to make spiritual progress and really say you are on the path. We have to control anger.