Friday, October 21, 2016

About Conceit - Spiritual Pride

When I hear “I have been 40 years on a path”, “I have been meditating for 35 years”, “I sat in satsangs for 25 years”,  In most cases it does not evoke in me a feeling of reverence and respect, what one, who exclaims, probably secretly expect.

I have been seeking intensely for 15 years prior to waking up, first through Gurgieff way, and then through Vipassana meditation, and how long it took for me to let go of every wrong expectation, ideas and beliefs, and finally let it all go, don’t bring pride of being a special, in a contrary, I feel like a fool. 

The path with all it’s twists and turns seems so clear now: why I turn this way, why I went this direction.  For me every turn and every backroad was absolutely necessary to let go of those beliefs. Something needed to be seeing and cleared, and the only way that I saw at that moment was exactly the way I took.

If someone took 40 years to walk the path, it was absolutely necessary for them to take 40 years, and if someone walked the path in no time at all, it is just right for them. No pride should be attached to the years walked on the path. What to be proud of? Of 15 years crawling on backroads in a mud of the mind’s constructed bullshit?

Buddhist believe that one of the 10 fetters, translated as the chains that keeps us bound to this plane of existence and force to be reborn, is conceit - the spiritual pride. I was guilty myself of it, so I can write about it in a clear way for others not to fall into this trap, and if you happened to fall, look at it in a new perspective.

I have very much respect for the path and anyone who walks on it for long time, for anyone who crawls and grinds every obstacle to the dust, before proceeding further. I have just the same respect for anyone who walks, skipping and whistling joyfully with a flower in their hair, gently caressed by the wind.  Just like I have respect for 20 y.o or 60 y.o - respect for the being itself, for life, not how long and in what way one particularly lived. Everyone will live their share of life in their unique way, and every life has a deepest respect.

My 15 years serving my time on the path didn’t make me any better, maybe it imprinted in me more pride that I had to deal with later.  I noticed how I perceived myself as a “hard core” meditator, who sat hundreds hours in meditation, if not 1000 or more. I didn’t count, but it is easy to count, since I was so consistent for years in my daily 2 hours meditation and sat particular number of retreats each of 12-14 hours meditation a day.  At some point I meditated around the clock, in any state, walking or sleeping. I don't want to count, what’s the point?  What's difference it makes now, when I know that from the seeking on the path to enlightenment it can only take one breath? I can only laugh at myself for being so stubborn in my ways, and laugh at the whole notion of the path.

In fact, when I finally let go of seeking, it was a time when I was in a retreat meditating around the clock. Luckily, at that particular retreat I had a little book of a the nine century zen master Huang Po, who relentlessly was telling me on every page:  “Let go of the conceptual thought, and the Enlightenment is there”. He was saying nothing about meditating for half a century. He was repeating again and again on almost every page that Enlightenment is a sudden event.  So one of those days I gave up. All and Everything. And then I laughed innerly in so much freedom! What a fool! What a beautiful fool! What an amazing hide and seek game it is! Why is to be proud for going through the game 15, 25, 40 years instead of seeing the way out of the game in 2 clear turns!  This along can cure the conceit fetter of being overly proud of your “serving the time”!

People find stories from the path so fascinating - mind likes to be entertained. The more epic story - the more attention you can get. I remember watching one of the teachers on “Buddha at a Gas Pump” website, it took him the whole interview to go through his story, clearly he was himself fascinated by it. He also sounded as he recited it numerous times, it was polished to every detail to produce a strong impression on the listener, the seeker. The whole story screamed: “I am very special!”, almost “I am a chosen one!”.  I was disappointed to spend nearly 2 hours listening to the story that easily could evoke doubt, one of the the other fetters/chains, if that wouldn’t be completely eliminated by my own knowing of reality by that time.  Only in his second interview he started to lay out his understanding and suggested practices to achieve it, projecting the authority of the almost only one who knows the right path. I thought it was very misleading set of interviews, though I understand that for every teacher there is a student, and vice versa.  In my early years of integration I did many mistakes, and gave some interviews in the times when I should kept my mouth shut and look further. I can just smile at the whole game of waking up and the whole game of wrapping the mind around what comes after that. Hold on to the rails and have a joyful ride!