By Swami Sankarananda
Gautama the Buddha tells us that there is suffering, and we have but to open our eyes with compassion to see it.
He tells us further that the cause of suffering is not what we see externally, but rather our attachment to false images. In some faiths this is called the worship of false idols. The great one further tells us that we may transcend the suffering by knowing the truth of this world, and that we may know this truth through our own practice.
Perhaps we try; perhaps we try very hard. We may be good, compassionate, deeply loving of family and friends. We may be generous with our time and money, donating much to charity. We may pray or meditate often; perhaps we have other practices as well.
And yet we still suffer so.
We still see the world a certain way, and we find it very hard—seemingly impossible—to completely trust the teacher and the teachings.
Trust seems so very difficult, and yet what are we to do? The mental world is false; all of these images are projections—three dimensional holograms. There is clearly some truth, yet it cannot be seen by our eyes; it cannot be known from the outside. All of the great teachers point to this for us and logically it must be so, but we cannot see it.
Science’s quantum theory, now accepted as a basic law of this universe, tells us with unquestionable lucidity that matter is not matter. Matter is energy, or perhaps simply the information underlying even that. Yet we, seemingly inexplicably, see matter alone. This must become the most important issue for us to deal with. For until we deal with this, we live in a dream world haunted by ghosts. We live with images of our minds, and in constant fear of the boogey man who will take us or everyone we love away.
Truth can be known.
We see untold examples of those who know the truth—teachers and saints. They tell us it can be known; they show us that it can be known. So the problem is with those who do not see truth. The problem is not outside; it is within us.
They see it. They tell us that we can see it, and yet we do not. When we recognize this we know the battle we must fight. This is the battle which determines our real fate, and the fate of the world that we know. External battles are not important. It is only this internal battle.
To win this battle we must state, “I want to see the truth that the Buddhas see! I no longer want to believe in the false. I no longer want to be ruled by fear and anger, passion and greed.” When we state this, when we dedicate ourselves to it, there is no doubt that we will win. In fact truth has already won. More correctly still there was no battle; there is no battle; there will be no battle.
Truth is; false is not. What is false only covers truth; that is all that it can do. It cannot stain it. It cannot touch it. It cannot harm it in any way. Imagine space—the sky surrounding us. The stars wage a battle for supremacy of space, and yet the space is not in any way damaged or usurped. No matter the birth or death of a star, no matter asteroids ending the life of planets, no matter dark energy nor black holes. Supernovas may not injure space. This space is the truth of the universe.
It was. It is. It will be. Just as you are also the truth of the worlds.
The subconscious mind (and what is a subconscious mind other than beliefs and images?) simply covers up the heart, the intuitive mind and the deepest Self. It is the same as the stars in space—our bodies are only space. It is only our thoughts and beliefs which cover the truth. The true nature of the world, then, can only be known by going beyond our own thoughts and beliefs.
We cannot trust the truth into existence, for what we think of as trust is a belief.
In other words one can not see the truth of this world as the sages do based upon any belief that one adopts. Trust is not what is called for here. We must go beyond trust. We must directly experience the world which the great teachers tell us of. This is the only way to know truth.
How can we go beyond even trust? By following their teaching completely, for their teachings exist in order to lead us to our own silence—the place beyond belief or idea.
The truth is silence itself, and we have only to be silent to know it. What is this silence? It is the absence. The absence of what? Belief, judgement, emotion. Absence of what is considered to be one’s self—complete acceptance of whatever is, in this moment.
Let us consider acceptance for a moment. “What can I accept?” “What can I not accept?” What ludicrous questions these are! Have you considered why it is that we can not simply accept whatever happens? After all, what is our choice?
Yes, we can of course try our best for a certain outcome, and certainly we should so this, but do we have any ownership of how the outcome actually comes out? If it comes out the way that we wanted we love to say, “I did that.” If it comes out a different way we then say, “I did my best but someone else messed it up.” And yet doesn’t this all just cause us to be miserable?
With introspection we know that if we accept our mind is quiet and we are happy. And if we don’t accept, our mind is judgmental. We are in agony. Bringing this back together is our key lesson. We are not to strive for trust, for we cannot find trust. Trust by its very nature is to be absolute, and yet it is not, because the nature of our mind is to doubt.
Trust then is a word which expresses what is not possible in our mind, not until we know truth and the mind is silent. “Why can’t you just trust me?” Because it is not possible.
“Trust the teaching.” It can’t be done. We are instead to strive for acceptance. In acceptance, silence dawns; in silence understanding is. In silence there is no longer a question of trust.
The teaching, then, is to take whatever comes, with equal gratitude.
It is no more complex than this. When we achieve acceptance we find our way home. This is the magic formula of all of the sages. Acceptance equals silence. Acceptance equals peace. Acceptance equals joy, the knowing and being of our natural state. Complete acceptance equals the state of no-self, or Self Realization. In complete acceptance one is in the Kingdom of God. In complete acceptance there can be no separation.
How may we learn to accept completely? Through pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is known as a walk to a place or for a thing, and it is walked without worldly support and in full acceptance of whatever comes.
A pilgrim knows and accepts that his or hers is an arduous journey in which anything can happen including bodily injury or death. They commit to the journey despite the dangers as they understand the goal of the pilgrimage is more important than any possible negative outcomes. I walk such a pilgrimage, literally, as I walk for peace for all. And yet it is not necessary to walk literally—-one may take one’s own steps towards complete acceptance.
Following of the Eightfold Path of the Buddha, or the real Ashtanga Yoga (including the critically important Yamas and Niyamas), or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, or any of the countless paths which are given by the greats—these are all pilgrimage. Here the term pilgrimage is expanded. For any successful journey to find complete acceptance inside will require us, little by little, to drop the supports of the world.
This dropping the supports of the world, is absolutely required.
Dropping the supports of the world is the only way to know what the world really is.
It is the required journey to find the truth which is, after all, what we are. Why take it? Because nothing else will ever satisfy us. Because we will always suffer until we do. We must know the truth. This is all that can satisfy. We must experience it directly. Step by step, little by little, let us drop the baggage which we carry in our mind, let us learn to accept completely and let us know what is finally to be known. Only then is there absolute faith; the surrender of our mind to a truth which is higher and deeper than it, a truth which is always.
We may see this journey as comprised of four steps, taken in any order, and continually
repeated until, at last, we are home:
1. Inspiration. The amazing, mind boggling examples of the great teachers and saints
in this world are here for our inspiration. Read, contemplate deeply and be inspired.
2. Purification. We must cleanse ourselves of all of the beliefs and images which
cloud our view. This is accomplished through sincerely following the Eight Fold
3. Examination. Looking closely inside and outside utilizing our intellect in order to
peel away all false images.
4. Positive Action. Beginning with our own thoughts, our words and our deeds strive
always to serve. Never to fix, simply to serve, and to serve simply.
Let us join together in this great journey home. Let us go beyond trust to what is called absolute faith—that which is known in the silence. Step by step, we may all know truth and know the love, the peace, that is in our own universal heart. Let us be truly fear-less.
Swami Sankarananda came only recently to Yoga after what most would call a successful life, having found that satisfaction is not a byproduct of success. He shared a lifestyle with many in the world, experiencing all of the stress and strain of striving 24/7 for “the American Dream.” Rewarded for this hard work with continual promotions, he eventually became President of a high technology company which he led to nearly one billion dollars in annual revenue and yet he found himself unfulfilled, without balance or any real happiness, and no visible path that might provide either of these except for a burgeoning practice of Yoga. Choosing to turn inward, through learning and serving of others, he took his vows as a monastic of the Swami Sivananda lineage. He has given up all possessions and walks on a pilgrimage for Peace serving through meditation/prayer and in simple ways presented along the path. His first U.S. coast to coast pilgrimage started in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2014 and completed in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey at the September 21st celebration of Peace Pilgrim’s works. He continues to walk, to serve and to share.
Editor: Sherrin Fitzer