No masters. No gurus. Nothing should stand between you and your spiritual cause. Most self-proclaimed gurus and masters are interested in only one thing – your money. Those who aren’t, are usually interested in lording power over you. Anyone who is called a guru, or a master, has created a power dynamic. There is an unspoken relationship where the master/guru is viewed as “greater” and the aspirant “lesser.” Between the office of master and student, there is often a hierarchy of titles, each considering themselves greater to one, and less than another. Such antics will remove one from convergence with their True Self.
Requirement for Individuality
The True Self can not be subjugated, to attempt to do so (by submitting to a foreign power) will only blur the connection to one’s Greatest Potential. Connection with the expanded Self can only be expressed through the work of Individuality.
The very act of submitting to another’s will, acknowledges their authority, not your own. One instantly looses their personal sovereignty.
To reach the expanded form of Self, Freedom is required. Liberty is required. You are not your just your body. What constitutes your nature is etheric and expands outwards into eternity. But don’t take my word for this. The spiritual practice itself should reveal this to any and every initiate.
No one should take responsibilities for you. No one should stand in the gap for your mistakes, and no one should tell you how to live your life. Even if their advice is sound and correct, if a person mentally submits to the spiritual authority of another, they damage the connection to their own highest Self.
Mundane vs. Spiritual
What of mundane masters? The apprentice submits to the will of the master teacher. A student submits to the will of the teacher, or parent. An employee submits to the will of a manager. We are so conditioned to this behavior in the mundane world, it’s no wonder people seek spiritual slavery, submitting to yet another master.
There is a great divide between the mundane variety of submission and the spiritual. To submit to an employer, agreeing to come to work at a certain time, or agreeing to sit in a classroom and listen to a lecture, these forms of submission do not tarnish the connection to the greater Self. The greater Self is not relegated by such mundane matters.
However, when dealing with the sublime truths of spirituality, submitting to the authority of a guru or master will take one off the path of Self Realization. You are your own guru.
This path is hard. The freedom makes the path more challenging. It’s similar to choosing to learn a challenging subject on one’s own. Many prefer to be told what to do, so they seek out a master to explain what foods they should eat, what mantras they should speak, and how they should dress and talk. But such behavior only aligns the student with the spiritual path of the master… instead of their own. In essence, one is performing for the master, and not gaining the merit for their own growth.
So what of teachers? Spiritual advisors or teachers are fine, as long as one doesn’t allow put them in a position above them. Someone explaining the practice of Kriya Yoga, or Taoist philosophy is fine, as long as they don’t undermine one’s Individuality.
The teacher is not always to blame. There are many a student that become overly submissive, putting the teacher on a pedestal. This too is coercion, but on the part of the student, seeking to influence their teacher by prostration or accolades.
For most, the idea of a guru, unlike a teacher, is to be revered as god incarnate. Their word is taken as something of greater value than the word of disciple. If you need to understand this for yourself seek the guru, seek the master but observe the control they have over the sheep that follow. Their flocks give all their reasoning and personal Sovereignty over to the guru.
Not all gurus are this way, but even in the best scenarios, the guru takes responsibility for your spiritual path. They take ownership for your decisions and hardships. Rather than you discovering what you need to do, they give you the steps for your growth. By standing in the gap for you, the guru removes your personal sovereignty. Often the aspirant attempts to become a simulacrum of the guru, rather than their own true self.
This is most evident in organizations where members say, “I’m allowed to do [some activity] because the master was fond of it.” As a member of a well known, modern religion, I recall hearing someone say those words to me, “you’re allowed to tap your foot while studying, as the [name of the master] was fond of doing that himself.”
Such a philosophy sets the boundary of one’s identity to be defined by the boundary of the leader, master or guru. Such roads lead away from the Self, not towards it.
Steps to Individuality
The first step towards Individuality is in the recognition that the True Individual is not the body. If one were to think as an individual human, they may ignore the cries for help, from others. They would be more body centered and less concerned with the problems of society and environment.
However, when the spiritual expression is thought to be great and expansive, then it encompasses the environment, it mixes with others. While we aren’t “one” with others in a literal sense, we do share the spiritual space with them. The greatest of our own nature, is equal to the greatness of another. Their limited expression might be hostile, angry or even hateful…. but the greatest expression (that expansive Self that reaches into eternity) is equal to mine, to yours.
Recognizing what the Self is is the first step. The true Self being the totality of existence, from the limited human expression, through the spiritual body, expanding outward into the depths of the physical and non-physical universe. This recognition is not handled by one’s intelligence. It is a direct experience.
Once we understand the Self, the next step is accept that our Gnosis, our answers, come from within. This is not a path of faith. We don’t “believe” or “hope” in something, but we seek a direct experience of truth.
This second step is the dismissal of all masters, and gurus. Teachers and books they are fine to a degree. Such instruments help set the foundation of a spiritual path, but they don’t define it. Definition comes from acting as an Individual – hence the requirement to dismiss all who would interpret your gnosis on your behalf.
Reason and experience are part of the third step. Aspirants and seekers have found a teaching process, now they put it to work. The real work is always in isolation. In this stage an individual creates their own path through trial and error. In time they may give up one belief for another, but the path is theirs. Trial error is the hallmark of this step.
The process is unique to each person. Mathematics, mysticism, emotion, non-emotion, these could all be forms of the work of an Initiate. It just depends on the individual.
While the spiritual processes will be unique to the individual, meditation (single pointed concentration) will be an aspect of any true spiritual path. Without meditation a person couldn’t focus long enough to discern their own truth. Mindfulness will also be a useful tool to anyone on the path, as it offers a way to concentration through whatever one is directly experiencing.
The most important part of this stage is to be open to change.
Letting go is the next step. By sitting in contemplation, the Initiate will begin to have emotions and thoughts rise up. These are often things that need to be dealt with. Often these are elements of our life we need to move past. They could be family, friendships, or physical possessions. Whatever holds a strong fetter upon the soul, will come out in the quietude of meditation. Unless they are cut, severed and removed, those patterns… those programs will repeat and keep us captive.
There’s another step… and it is the step of unity. In my personal life, I had to go through a stage of removing the past influences from my life. In the void, I found myself… my True Self. Once found I began to reclaim unity with that Self…. and I also felt free to once again study material I had previously removed. As it was no longer a control factor in my life, those old religions were studied for their worth, and not their dogma.
By repeating the steps, the aspirant is disentangled from body identification alone. They are released into a space of freedom. From that space they practice outside thought enforcement of masters and gurus. They let go of those elements holding them back, keeping them from their Individual nature.
Repeating the steps the Individual rises up. One’s conscious awareness is recognized not just as a body, and not just as a spirit but in the totality of it all.
Although I’m biased in saying so, I believe this to be a process of Individuality in its most generic form. If you are told what to do, how to do it and how to interpret something, you are certainly not finding yourself, but becoming an imitation of another. Beliefs themselves have their own keys… to understand alchemy one would have to know what each image represents. To understand Hinduism, one might need to listen or study from various teachers to get an idea of the faith. However, the ingestion of truth is truly personal, at least if one is seeking to find and express themselves.