This post was originally a New Dharma Conference Call by Sat Shree.
Tonight I’m going to talk about building ‘Self’. I was reading an opinion piece in the New York Times, by a well known columnist, and he was describing the environment at university campuses and what constituted a better university. Universities, apparently, used to focus on building a ‘sense of self’ and the columnist was describing characteristics and methods of someone a hundred or so years ago in that university environment. Universities were teaching students not just information to get a degree or to make money or to become good at something specific in the world, but rather they focused on building the character of a person; building the sense of self. So, that individuals going out into the world could have some sort of resoluteness; a capacity to stand alone in the world with some sense of who they were, what they were up to, and how to make sense of what they encountered based on the values that were taught to them and to not just get overtaken by the current or the masses of the time. I was very impressed with this article.
The columnist described the qualities developed. First, a capacity for introspection, self-inquiry, to look within and see what is their nature. What’s going on in the inside? You need to take your focus off only the outside occurrence. So, of course, when you go to college, everything is about the outside. There are all these new people and all these new experiences and all these new possibilities. You’ve left your home and now you actually have a perfect opportunity to build a self but you have to have some capacity for self reflection. The second quality was observation; the ability to see what’s going on around you, objectively, rather than reactively or impulsively. How you should deal with it when you get thrown into this crowd or that crowd, this situation and that situation; when you get pulled along by this person or that person. Your ability to really notice what’s happening, objectively, in all these situations, is an important component.
You need to find an organizing principle: This means, what is it that gives you focus? What is it that gives you meaning, exclusive of anyone else. What gives you purpose? Then, to find for you, what is the purpose of living this life. What’s the purpose of existing? Not the purpose you were programmed with, not the one your parents gave to you, not the one your culture gave to you, not the one you learned in school, but yours. Then, live aligned with your head and heart. Learn to speak aligned with your heart and take action aligned with what you say. This principle of being who you are, taking a stand on this ‘who you are’ in the world, alone, independent, in your own authority, is crucial.
So, this is reflective of much of my teachings; it’s about coming to personal responsibility. Coming out of the “victim-hood” position we take, which we do primarily because we have not yet gone through this process. If our universities were taking our students through this process, we’d have a very different world now. It’s not that it completely disappeared; it was there when I was young. Back then, when you went to school, there were some professors who talked about this independent self-expression and your own uniqueness, your own genius. Finding the thing that, in you, was unique and to live, to strength and organize yourself around this principle. Now, this isn’t necessarily spiritual, but it is the path to becoming a mature human being because we find ourselves through this process, and until we build a sense of self, we’re just being swept away by the impulses and reactions and inclinations of whatever shows up in our life, at any one time. We keep seeking out, habituating ourselves to certain types of experiences without even questioning this habit. We just follow our impulses and whims, which are running us, without an understanding that these are not ours; they’re the automatic expression of the body/mind that comes with every human being. Unless we step in and have a say about where we’re going and where we’re not going, unless we begin to apply some effort to discriminate what’s important to us and what’s not and live aligned with that, then we’re just being cast into the wind, this way and that way. We are just puppets on a string, living a shallow, unexamined life with no direction or purpose, except what shows up out of the necessity of day to day living or the pleasure of what’s before you.
Last night, I was in my Samadhi, and in this particular Samadhi, I was very aware and I was being shown or reviewing my life. I realize that there were a number of points where I met a ‘resolute self’ in my life. One that stood in his/her own independence before God and oblivion and Truth. Oblivion and the ultimate reality is the same thing. Now, when standing before oblivion, nothing matters. You can live any which way you want to; it has no bounds. I remember feeling this, I remember feeling amoral; I had no boundaries, and I just lived for me. I was fifteen and I remember that I just hopped on a bike with nothing, no money, no clothes, nothing, and left home permanently (that’s what I thought). I rode 240 miles with no doubt, no fear; just me and the absolute, just me and my own resoluteness.
Where in the hell did that come from? I don’t know where it came from. Perhaps I’m an old soul, or perhaps I’d gone through the journey of the human life enough times that this resoluteness just came. What was showing up at the age of fifteen was what I wanted; my way, my life, not caring about anybody else. I wouldn’t say that it was immoral, it was just amoral. It didn’t have any boundary to it, it didn’t have a sense of danger or fear, but it was very determined and capable in whatever direction I pointed myself.
I know that working with most of you; this part of you has either been submerged or never allowed to come forward. Forget religion, forget morality, forget ethics, forget society, forget the whole kit-and-caboodle, and just be there with the fact that one day you’ll be dead, that one day bad things could happen or good things could happen. Now that’s truth. There’s the other side, which was God, and no doubt about it, I had a sense, programmed in me very young, that there was an order, there was a plan, there was such a thing as God, but at this age, that was in the background, because it was too easy to get locked into this sense of rules, and ethics and moralities and become intimidated by all the authority and history of those around me.
That stage, that period of my life, was the adolescence and I believe I lived it well because I literally broke out of the whole box. In many ways, I was more enlightened during that period than most of my adult life. Even the first part of my spiritual path, I was so enchanted with all the awakening and all the subtle plane experiences and all the dimensions that I was going into, that I was lost in God’s Labyrinth. I was lost in this endless play land, which they call the middle kingdom. It wasn’t until nine years later, after the spiritual path started, that I came back to this resoluteness. This sense of, I won’t say me, but it was more ‘I am’, and I was free. I knew I was free because I had lived thirty years bound. Even though I was once free, I had chosen to get married, have children, do my architecture, do art, do astrology, travel, and have businesses. I did all these things and made other people important, made what other people thought important. I worried about hurting other people’s feelings, and worried about doing right. Then, after nine years into my spiritual awakening, it came right back to ‘it’s all a dream’ ‘it’s all made up’ ‘it’s all fabricated’. When it comes down to you and the absolute, there are no boundaries, there’s just you. When I look at this, I now understand why it’s so difficult for people to do the spiritual path because there is not this resoluteness that comes from knowing yourself, from having created a self. From having moved through the different stages of human maturity, and having come to your own meaning, your own purpose, and your own values.
In the Bhagavad Gita, in the second chapter when Krishna is first revealing the nature of the yoga of the Bhagavad Gita, the nature of the ultimate spiritual path, the complete spiritual path, he describes the uniqueness of this path in verse 88: The intellect is focused on one goal in this approach, whereas it wanders in different directions in other approaches due to endless desires; restlessness, impulses, reactions, unexamined conditioning, habits of being and reacting, trying to be safe or trying to get something. Hold onto something to protect you. They’re left unexamined. They get in the way of your ability to be present with this ultimate transition which takes a complete reordering of your life aligned with that highest truth that you can access. You can’t give yourself completely to this unless you know what it is that you have to give. If you do not know what is blocking you from this resoluteness then you’ll never be able to have the capacity to stay focused in this journey.
We’re talking about the end of time. We’re talking about a serious, ancient root path to your original reality; to your original nature. This is not just, you know, “Is it in my star chart? Is it in the I-Ching?” This is you creating it out of nothing, aligning the pieces of your life for this purpose; heart and mind, body and soul, as clearly and intelligently, and as much as you can. Of course, it’s clear as you travel, but the nature of this route is murky at first, but it gets less murky over time, and then you have flashes of understanding that what you’re doing is in fact the correct action. Then you forget this understanding, and the old habits come back, and it gets murky again. Then you recover yourself and on and on. It’s the nature of things, but it’s murky and murky, then clearer and clearer, with flashes of revelation that let you know where you’re going.
At some point, the intellect, the psychic intelligence becomes clear enough that it’s present continuously, guiding you when the distractions come up. Telling you what’s true and what is not true; where you’re bullshitting yourself and where you are not. Where you’re projecting onto others and where you’re not. You begin to get clarity about the nature of your situation, about the process that you’re in, but you need a sense of self and the ability to stand alone, just you and the absolute, just you and God, and stay in relationship with that. If you can already stand alone with the absolute, you don’t need a teacher except to assist you, and then your resoluteness chooses the teacher and uses the teacher for your own purpose rather than just using the teacher as a way of bypassing the process. It’s about coming to your own authority, to truth, to the “I am”, to whatever extent is available to you. Now, truly, this is not possible unless you’ve been engaged in a maturing process in the course of your life.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by this, or overly judgmental toward yourself, because there are very, very few people who have this resoluteness. Usually, it comes out of great pain and suffering and sometimes it just comes through this capacity of personal self control, self restraint; living purposefully, but it always has a component of peril. The things that I do matter, what I do or don’t do matters because I have a sense of what the absolute is, I have a sense of what God is, and this is what I say matters. We live accordingly, so it’s not like looking for what you can get away with, finding ways to sneak around the teacher’s notice, or other people’s notice, because you’re your own conscience, you’re your own teacher, and evaluator.
Of course, you are going to do it wrong most of the time until you figure out what it takes to get it right. So, the other part of this resoluteness is not to be discouraged, but to stick with it, to persevere; to gather the correct information about the nature of the journey. To look at your own life and to see the things in you that are not yet strong enough and that need to be met, need to be strengthened, and need to be addressed so that you can go forward when new things come up and overtake you, ultimately distracting you.
I know it’s rare what’s happened to me, I know that it’s probably been the combination of many lives and as my teacher put it, “[that] very few people have had the realization in the West that Sat Shree has had.” I’m constantly looking at people, recognizing how difficult it is to come to this resoluteness in a world that indulges our every whim and our preferences and our desire for comforts, making it so that we never have to make a real choice. We just slide along from one thing to another, and never really have consequences.
Within your life, if there’s been any one thing that you’ve striven for out of your own authority, and you’ve been able to redesign your life to bring it forward, (a career path, an accomplishment, or a series of accomplishments) that is sufficient to strengthen you, giving you the capacity to realize that you’re your own boss. You always were your own boss, but it’s just that you gave that away without knowing you had a choice. So, maybe it will look like selfishness to other people or maybe it will look like insensitivity, but when you come to the resolution, you have to stand alone, and you need to have the capacity to self-question. Not for the purpose of invalidating yourself, but only to verify that what you are experiencing, or what you understand, is accurate to the nature of what it is that you are seeking to attain and to create; to bring into existence for yourself.
This is what I find when people come to me. I see where they have not come to their own authority and I see where they’ve been floating along in life. Now they have come to a point where it matters that they know who they are. You must understand that the choices you make have consequences when you enter this arena of the spiritual path with me [Sat Shree] because I can’t hold your hand, I can’t save you from yourself if you’re not focused on where you are going. If this doesn’t work, it just means it’s not your time. It just means there may be more lifetimes for you to live and maybe there’s something else that you need to complete. If this is the case, then you should complete those lifetimes and accept the consequences. You should do the thing that you think is more important than God or Truth. If you’re unwilling to do this, what’s happening is that you’re keeping one foot in the world and one foot on the spiritual path. Every time you take a step onto the spiritual path, the foot in the world will snap you back at some point or another, like a rubber band.
Without the resoluteness to put both feet on the path of spirit, then you’re constantly being pulled back into whatever it is that you have not examined in yourself, something you’ve hoped for or desired for or longed for or are addicted to, etc. It keeps pulling you back, which is why you’re not always moving forward. One thing I’ve noticed is that if someone keeps taking a step into the spiritual path, and they get snapped back, and they take a step again, and they get snapped back, eventually that rubber band gets fatigued and at some point it will break.
However, you can assist that process by noticing the parts of you that are embedded, stuck, clinging to something in your human life. Find what it is; that wishing, that hope, anything that takes you back into that false hope, false dream, will keep you stuck or, at best, you’ll be dragging yourself along. It takes tremendous resoluteness because it’s not natural. It’s not natural for the human being to go on a spiritual path. Not from the vantage point of the human being. From the vantage point of the evolutionary consciousness, it is absolutely natural, but if you’re a slug, for example, living in the mud and the slime, it’s not natural to become a butterfly or a bird.
Maybe that’s the step you have to go through, though. It’s like the first fish that landed on the shore that struggled to breathe air. It was a transition that the fish didn’t know was a transition. It thought it was dying but it wasn’t quite dying, instead it was developing lungs, and a few thousand years later, feet, hands, and arms. So, we’re engaged in a process that doesn’t seem natural to what we’ve lived up until now. Go back to the old comfortable and familiar. If it’s not comfortable and familiar, it can’t be right, right? This is the habit of the human existence. It requires resoluteness, intelligence, and perseverance. The striving for clarity, objectivity, and self inquiry – this takes every bit of you, ultimately.
Of course, you can be dragged along on the coattails of the teacher for a while, but soon, if you have your foot in the world, and you find yourself outside of the sphere of the teacher, it’ll slowly bring you right back to where your foot (or toe) is still stuck in the world. No stone unturned. If you stay with the teacher long enough, then he’s going to drag the whole content of your human life along with you and you’re going to have to meet it in every other day with the teacher, or the people around you. Your issues will constantly be confronting you and you will not be able to hang on, to stay stuck, for very long. One must choose one side or the other.
So, learning to stand alone with you and God, and if standing alone means needing to leave the teacher, then you should leave the teacher. Many people give themselves over to the teacher with not a clue as to what they are doing, when they’re not really there, and they are just going along for the ride, even if it’s a psychic ride. It is still just a new area of distraction and entertainment. Without that clarity about your purpose, without some resoluteness about what you’re up to, then you cannot be with me in the way that you need to in order to reach the goal that I see for you. Of the vast majority of seekers, very few can be with me. It just becomes intolerable for them; unacceptable. If you’re just coming here for what I have to offer or for what you understand I am doing, then you cannot know who I am. You cannot know who I am until you are what I am. You can only have your approximation of it. So, it is also possible to be resolute in your willingness to have the teacher guide you, but it cannot be a passive surrender. It has to be a dynamic surrender; one willingly given again and again if necessary. To travel as far as possible at any one time and, no doubt about it, because once you begin to travel this path, the distractions are endless. The distractions of the God dimension, the planes of beings and forces and gods and energies; the domains of total enchantment, the revelations where you feel so powerful and all knowing.
Without resoluteness, you’ll never make it across the middle-kingdom even if you can make it across the path of the human addiction. All you really need, even if you don’t have any of the other qualities that I’ve said, is sincerity of purpose and an aspiration to move into the direction that you sense is possible. You must take the consequences of your choices as your own and be responsible for your own choices and decisions; you must learn from them instead of coming up with some explanation or excuse for them.
So, if you simplify your life, start cutting away the content of your life, those people who are part of the content of your life will become angry with you or will implore you or beg you not to change, but instead to stay as you are, so they can have whatever they had with you still. Without the resoluteness of purpose, you’ll feel guilty and you’ll feel that you can’t do this. You’ll feel like you have to take care of your responsibilities. It’s very hard to know what the right action is when you come and start emerging out of this dimension of rules and morals and ethics and people’s opinions and their judgments and their shallow, superficial sense of what you should be doing and shouldn’t be doing.
It’s very hard to break out of this because of this whole idea of guilt and sin within our culture. Who am I to be different from everyone else? So you build a self through self inquiry, observation; through finding and organizing a purpose. Through creating a direction, a way to live, and a way to act that’s aligned with the best life that you have available to you at the time. A sincerity of purpose.
This is what Dharma is. You have to find your innate character, your innate nature, because without your innate nature, you can’t know what the path for you to walk is. This is significant in these times because people do not know their Dharma because they do not know themselves. They take on attributes their parents wanted them to have, or their friends are expecting them to have, and this is where the whole of society is going to pot, because there is nobody standing up from their own authority. No Martin Luther King Jr., no Gandhi, nobody who knows from within their being what it is that they need to do and stand for. This is what’s missing in this world. It’s not necessary to become enlightened.
It’s necessary to live consistent with your truth, with your dharma, and it will always be a sacrifice. It will always be a service, it will always be an act of self-giving, because only in self-giving (giving up our ego, our preferences, our comforts, our beliefs) is the truth able to manifest itself in you. It’s only then that God can find its expression through your unique form, your unique person, your unique genius. You, through this process, will gain the clarity to know what that is and, at some point, you will know who is living you, who is playing your flute, who is the Supreme, is God, is Truth. All you’re doing is delighting in being an instrument.
So, it’s good to remember what we’re up to. It’s good to keep these principles in mind. Use the Bhagavad Gita to give you clarity on the path. Ask questions of each other and of me, and of yourself. To discover, “Am I doing this? Am I on the path?”, “Am I in equanimity? Do I know God? Am I paying attention? Am I completely committed to this principle of now? What’s true? What’s real?”
So, I leave you with these words. As I’m speaking my own unique genius, it’s only one note of thousands of notes. So it’s not the only truth, it is this expression today, at this time of the universe, through this form. Tomorrow, the next day, you’ll get another note. This was tonight’s note; tonight’s song.