|A panoramic view of Bodega Bay.|
As a living being on the human side of the wall looking at the path towards formlessness, I have been observing there appears to be as many different styles, approaches, and manifestations as there are individuals on the transformative path. What is the ideal model for a spiritual teacher? What is the ideal model for a disciple/seeker?" At what point is one considered transformed into the other? Do we all agree on the characteristics of a perfectly baked cookie? Does this become yet another opportunity for discernment, digestion, and surrender? All the steps along this specialized path have involved these actions to nonaction, but my list for the physical has not diminished while I am aware of inhabiting a body. I still need to eat healthfully, brush my teeth, exercise, etc.
At this point in my journey, I appreciate all the variations, but I do find comfort in learning from a living example/Master who "walks the talk" of the scriptural ideals. Gurudev made it clear from the beginning that anyone who inhabits a body is going to have perceived flaws and that it is part of the embodied evolutionary design. Maybe because of my limited capacity, I prefer not to see the flaws in the categories of ethics, morality, and "right" action as outlined in most spiritual texts. It is not to say that I couldn't learn from a person with 93 Rolls Royce's (Osho) or someone who has indiscrete relationships with his/her disciples (too many to name), or any number of other variations of perceived less desirable actions, but my preference is for someone who shows how it can be done. The list of a Master's qualifications is personal and in contract with the Divine and so far, the list only exists in the wake state.
As a child, I believed in the supervising/parenting adult as the life leader. At some point, I accumulated my own observations, experiences, and discernment and began to observe from a different perspective. The parent as the authority and guiding example may or may not hold at that point. I am learning that spiritual leaders are no different--stepping stones. Gurudev NEVER speaks of himself as the guru or the one at the end of the food chain. He always gestures towards the Divine Genealogy and the formless beyond.
As a student there have been questions around how to integrate the seemingly different worlds. At first there was a state of confusion, since it was so different than what was familiar--not unlike adjusting to India as a physical container. Now as some of the dust is settling, I experience the principles as fruits ripening within. There appears to be an organic path that arises from the old desires and actions. I needed the old fruit as a contact or as markers of awareness. As a deeper, energetic connection to the Divine "solidifies", the old connections wither, the old fruit drops away, new fruit emerges, and the cycles continue. Is this the path of purification? Probably and I will need to live through many, many fruit cycles to follow the path of Ramakrishna, Gurudev, or others. The dying of the fruit becomes a point of rebirth, so it is not felt as a loss but as an opening to something more sacred and pure. The path of renunciation isn't felt as a sacrifice, but as an opportunity to come into contact with the abstraction of the formless. As a child, we may have played dress-up to emulate our parents and now we play renunciation to emulate the Divine.
Most of the current world nature is about materialism, so I personally need the living example of what is possible. Reading it in the books is one aspect, but sitting at the feet of it is another. Would I have thought to stand if I hadn't seen living examples or would I have continued to crawl? Within myself, the tolerance for "bad" behavior is minimal. I understand it, I possess it, I witness it regularly, but now, it is clearly observed as an obscuration--more fruit cycles in the cue of spiritual evolution.
As I continue to observe, read, and digest, I see that we are all fruit trees in varying stages. We may even sit at the base of the most sacred fruit tree and may not be ready to receive the inspiration for change, so thank goodness for all of the stages in between. In this exercise of examining spiritual teachers, students, and the path, the Principles continue to apply. Thank you!