|Inspiring thoughts regarding the Spiritual Guide – aspirant relationship|
by yoga teacher Nicolae Catrina
The essence of the relationship between the Spiritual Guide and the aspirant can never be known only from the outside, because in fact it can never be an object of knowledge for those who are not ready to identify with that ineffable, mysterious state experienced by an aspirant on the spiritual path. It is also necessary to realize that this relationship is not a concept that we can understand only with our mind. Even if we can speak about this relationship between the Spiritual Guide and the aspirant, defining it in different ways (some of them very subtle), all these are only “marks” on the path each of us has to walk in this direction. Basically, all these are just impulses from the mind that appear within the spiritual practice (Sadhana).
Only one heart: the Supreme Godly Heart
Truly speaking, we can never encompass only with our mind this ineffable, mysterious and fundamental initiatic reality (the Spiritual Guide – Aspirant relationship) because when we truly experience it, in its mysterious and sublime dimensions, it is then that we mainly experience the divine state of non-duality in which, for the aspirant, only God exists.
In reality this is the ideal modality in which we should relate to our spiritual Guide; perfect non-duality (advaita) where, symbolically speaking, there no longer exist two hearts (that of the Spiritual Guide and that of the Aspirant), but only one heart – the Supreme Godly Heart: The Eternal Heart of God the Father (Paramatman).
Doing this, then and then only, a complete inner certitude will awaken within us regarding the righteousness of the Spiritual Path we follow, as well as of the teachings of our Spiritual Guide. This certitude, generating miracles, will open our soul towards perceiving an uplifting state of absolute perfection regarding all the words and actions of our Spiritual Guide, because in that state of non-duality only God exists and, as we all know, God is in eternity perfect.
Spiritual practice full of aspiration, done having as support this ideal relation to the Spiritual Guide, will gradually transform that initial certitude in a profound realization of the Immortal Self Essence (Atman). At the same time, this mysterious process that transforms our being will be harder to express, to conceptualize or to explain to those who do not experience our state. For the human beings who do not have the same state as us, this process will be perceived from the outside in paradoxical or irrational forms. The sacredness of the spiritual guide – aspirant relationship, which “fills up” more and more our entire inner universe, will most often not be noticed – although for us almost any attempt to express it in a coherent and logic way for the others can be perceived as an “impiety” (in other words, it appears as an attempt to renounce the sacred for the grey and flat dimensions of the profane).
Above any spiritual initiation
For the human beings that have transformed enough, as a consequence of their engagement on the spiritual path, the essence of the spiritual guide – aspirant relationship resides therefore in the most intimate realms of our Immortal Divine Self (Atman). This essence represents the non-dual experience of the Divine Spirit, which spontaneously recognizes itself. Such a mysterious experience is impossible to describe in words, even for the one experiencing it, because conceptualizing it, thinking it or expressing it places us automatically in the rigid and suffocating trap (from the spiritual point of view) of dual logics (and also dualistic) in which a subject observes a certain object.
On the other hand, it is necessary to underline that the profound and intimate experience of the Spiritual Guide – aspirant relationship is almost always unique and belonging only to ourselves, in the same way in which any state of divine ecstasy (Samadhi) is always unique and at the same time complete in itself. As we said, it is always accompanied by that complete and unmistakable certitude about the righteousness and spiritual plenitude (or, to be more precise, completeness) of this direct connection, from Heart to Heart, with our Spiritual Guide, a secret connection that we spontaneously realize as being beyond any other spiritual initiation, because in fact it is the essence of any spiritual initiation!
Saying all these, it is also important to add that this certitude can never be mistaken with fanaticism or different obscure beliefs, due to its light, transparency, tolerance and unconditional opening to all the forms in which the Divine Truth presents to us in everyday existence.
The supreme initiatic mystery
If sometimes, on the way, certain doubts still appear within us (either about the Path we follow or about our spiritual Guide, or even about our possibilities of spiritual perfection on the respective path), this shows that we are not yet fully established in this supreme initiatic mysterious reality (which, as I had showed above, represents the essence of the Spiritual Guide – aspirant relationship, which awakens within us the spontaneous state of non-duality).
On the contrary, constantly seeking to deepen this supreme initiatic mystery represented by the Spiritual Guide – Aspirant relationship, we will gradually discover that enlightenment and even spiritual liberation become for us a gradual process, more and more natural and spontaneous (of course, this does not mean that it will not be necessary to make certain efforts). At the same time, this represents an open and mysterious, uplifting and brilliant process, which gradually encompasses the entire outer objective reality and is always characterized by love, honesty, compassion, complete confidence, wisdom and, last but not least, by a great simplicity.
At that point we will be able to experience naturally and directly extremely high spiritual states (which will become perfectly accessible for us, according to the level we reach) and if we study carefully, we will notice that these aspects are presented also in some of the most elevated spiritual traditions of this planet. For example, in the ancient tradition of Kashmir Shivaism, this is the spontaneous and direct “Recognition” (pratyabhijna) of Godliness in all details of our existence; or, in Tibetan tantrism, this is “The Supreme spiritual attitude” (mahamudra) etc.
The condition of “Spiritual Son”
Of course, in this direction, only direct experience can offer us that certitude of the non-dual state in which, apparently paradoxically, although we are fully abandoned in the sublime but indescribable experience of the essence of the Spiritual Guide – Aspirant relationship, we also realize that we are truly ourselves (even more then ever before); in other words, we are completely free from any dependency or constraint!
[This mysterious spiritual experience could very well be compared to the state of complete surrender of the individual will to God’s Will, which is almighty; also in this case, even if we might consider the surrendering of our will as something rather restrictive (when we can no longer do “what we want”), the truth is that through this we reach complete and perfect freedom – the Absolute Freedom of God the Father!]
If we have not yet reached this essential condition (which, in the Kashmir Shivaism tradition is called the state of “Spiritual Son” or, respectively, “Spiritual Daughter”, we will need, over and over again, many mental and intellectual confirmations or, in other words, we will need many wisdom treaties to offer us, at least partially (but never definitely!) a certain inner certitude that we are “on the right path”. Then, instead of the simplicity and naturalness of the condition of “Spiritual Son”, we will need, before making the smallest step forward, many explanations and “guarantees” which will make us confident about what we do and especially about the fact that our efforts are not in vain.
The divine “Magic” of the Eternal Beginning
For some (who are more tested and can even fail at some of the tests that appear on the spiritual Path), this almost constant doubt and mistrust in the power (efficiency) of the Spiritual Path that we follow is the main obstacle. Such an obstacle gives us the belief in a “quantitative” complexity of reality, pulling us further and further away from the wonder of the spontaneous, simple and direct Path of the “Recognition” of God both in our Heart as well as in the entire surrounding reality. If we are in this situation and we indulge in it, we will search for more and more complex explanations or different mental confirmations, most often forgetting that spiritual realization is characterized, first of all, by love, simplicity, complete faith, honesty and spontaneity!
Regarding this situation, the great wise man Lao Tze, which is the “father” of the Taoist tradition, said: “IN ORDER TO OBTAIN ORDINARY KNOWLEDGE (DUALISTIC), WE MUST ADD SOMETHING EVERYDAY; BUT IN ORDER TO OBTAIN DIVINE WISDOM, EVERYDAY WE MUST PUT SOMETHING ASIDE.”
Therefore, what is truly essential for our spiritual practice is the amplification of this state of superior certitude or, in other words, of complete faith in the Path we follow and in our Spiritual Guide. For this, it is very good, especially when we notice that the faith in the Spiritual Guide has diminished, to relate as often as possible to the magic moments of the beginning of our spiritual practice, when our effervescence, purity, love, trust and aspiration were fully blessed by the mysterious freshness of the energy of the beginning, or all the moments in which we had “top” experiences in the respective direction (in other words, we must relate to and to evoke in our inner universe the moments in which we savoured fully the unmistakable proofs of the Presence of the Divine in our relation with our Spiritual Guide).
Doing this often enough and living the mysterious states, full of freshness, which we have experienced at the beginning, we will surely discover, sooner or later, the divine “magic” of the Eternal Beginning regarding our relationship with our Spiritual Guide and we will enter again its sacred space, in which, on the background of love and giving, any Divine Wonder is easily possible.
The hidden treasure of the complete trust in God
Doing this, we will discover or rediscover again the hidden treasure of complete faith in God and in our Spiritual Guide. In the same time, we will awaken that spontaneously liberating ecstatic simplicity of the heart surrendered completely to God. Doing this, we can be sure that all our doubts regarding the Spiritual Guide, such as excessive criticism, lack of contentment, misunderstood perfectionism (applied destructively, instead of constructively) etc., will disappear as if by magic, being alchemized into Light, Love, Honesty, Goodwill and Truth. In this way, we will discover that this indescribable brilliant simplicity is complete in itself. All these transformations are, without doubt, available to each one of us and they are possible only through the complete faith in the Spiritual Guide. This faith is the solid basis of the complete realization of the Immortal Divine Self (Atman) and all these will bring the Plenitude of existing in God’s liberating Grace.
On the contrary, if due to the severe lack of faith in the Spiritual Guide we will wrongly consider, due to our wild imagination, that the path we follow here and now is full of imperfections and mistakes, shortly afterwards the direct and easy Path to God will be blocked, by ourselves, because our Heart will be covered by the impurities of the insecure, frightened, oscillating, suspicious and dualistic mind, with our inferior desires and choices, which will gradually destroy this mysterious, uplifting, subtle state of grace (therefore, so fragile), specific to the pure, spiritual state of “Spiritual Son” (in other words, specific to the ideal relation to our Spiritual Guide).
The trap of the exacerbated ego
If we fall and we get lost in this state, then our selfish, hidden desires will soon create and even strengthen our own limiting ideas regarding a so-called spirituality that we project in our own likeness. Soon afterwards, we will begin nourishing different weird ideas regarding the Spiritual Guide – Aspirant relationship, ideas that we will aim to justify and confirm by combining or interpreting in a more or less distorted way the different spiritual information we have gathered from many sources but which we “have digested” only partially, because we approached them mainly with the mind and not with the Heart. Indulging in this state, we can get lost and can even drop the Spiritual Path, because we will not be able to truly open our soul to God, because we will lack faith. Then, we will often make huge efforts just to keep ourselves in a weird, artificial condition, which is our (selfish) idea about a so-called spirituality projected in our own likeness or about the Spiritual Guide – Aspirant relationship, as we see it when we are astray.
Indulging in this state we will regress and we will get lost and, sooner or later, in order to stubbornly defend these personal ideas, we will start criticising (first in a very subtle, hidden way, then in a more obvious, even aggressive way, ending with denigration) the Path, the Spiritual Guide, the revelations he made, the methods he offered, etc. In the final phase, if we will not do anything to come out of this cunning, tragic and complex trap of the exacerbated ego, we will leave both our Spiritual Guide as well as the Spiritual Path, justifying our gestures in different ways.
The key of the spiritual realization: faith and responsibility
Besides this, the problem is that this state will generate within us very strong “partisan” reactions: we will fight hard to support or promote our ideas, our weird points of view, our absurd convictions, and this inner crisis will grow and we will never know the ecstatic peace of complete simplicity and complete acceptance of life. Moreover, we will often feel an intense inner tension – which, due to our exacerbated ego, we will never admit to the others – and tiredness; afterwards, our consciousness will not be able to rest or centre in itself, because it will be occupied and fascinated by the weird ideas we have adhered to and which we “must” protect at any price or to constantly have them confirmed.
An ancient saying of eastern wisdom says: “Any aspect of reality, any being, any object appears, from our point of view, exactly as we look upon it.” For those who are and indulge themselves in this state, this saying helps to understand what actually happens with them. The fundamental key of spiritual realization, as affirmed by all genuine spiritual traditions, is to reach that complete faith in the Spiritual Guide and in taking the responsibility for all the events we experience, because all of them come to us exclusively according to God’s Will, because in reality they appear in our existence only because we fully deserve them.
That is why the great wise men say: “Every human being always has what she deserves.” When we are “armed” with this superior attitude, with honesty, humbleness, goodwill and love, we will successfully overcome all the spiritual tests we will be given and each time we will discover (even if, at the beginning, not always immediately – due to certain uncontrolled momentarily reactions) the hidden and profoundly initatic meaning of each important event of our yogi life, even when all appearances show very clearly that we have been seriously misjudged, or when we have the impression that we are not appreciated enough, as we consider that we deserve, etc.
Our perfect mirror
[In this direction, it is essential to remember what most spiritual traditions say: “In the complex and indescribable relationship with us, the Spiritual Guide is always, whether we want it or not, our perfect Mirror, which objectively shows us to ourselves, exactly as we are here and now, and not how we imagine ourselves to be or how we would like to be or to seem to be! Knowing this, it is essential to realize that the mirror is never to blame for what it reflects. As it is a perfect mirror (and, as we all know, the consciousness of a spiritually liberated being is often compared to a perfect mirror), it will never reflect us differently then how we are, in order to “please” us or to gain our sympathy: whatever the risk of this reflection, it will always offer us the Truth and only the Truth about ourselves! Besides, that which it shows us, whether good or bad, about ourselves, does not affect at all its state of purity, because the mirror never identifies with what she reflects in complete detachment].
Then, truly, as the great yogi and wise man Sri Aurobindo said: “Our entire life will become a form of yoga [a certain spiritual path]”. To this we can add that, in fact, it is about an extremely fast and complete form of yoga, because we practice it with our entire being and full of surrender and honesty – both to ourselves as well as to our Spiritual Guide, and also to God Himself.
Of course, we do not claim that we have exhausted this subject. These few ideas can only make a short, even imperfect, summary of the ineffable, mysterious and full of Grace reality of the ideal relation to the Spiritual Guide (in other words, the reality of the state of “Spiritual Son”, “Spiritual Daughter”, respectively). But these marks can indicate the direction towards which the search for this essential condition of the initiation in the Supreme Mystery of God’s Heart is very fruitful because, ultimately, through the Divine Grace that manifests through the Spiritual Guide (or, better said, “embodied” by the Spiritual Guide), the secret state of Spiritual Son reveals itself to be the state of Son of God.