I was recently awakened to my lack of writing when my publisher Women Unlimited shared a book review of my memoir Fallen, Standing; my life as Schizophrenist by Ammu Joseph, an independent journalist based in Bangalore. In The Book Review; A Tough Hill To Climb , Ammu Joseph ends it the para with:
"I hope she will eventually write that book, especially because it is difficult for the uninitiated...". Like her, I have had many individuals pursuing me, asking in hope when would my second book be published. Quite frankly, I have delayed it not consciously but where creativity and life is concerned I consider them my path of spirituality. This means that everything has its own time and cannot be forced. I cannot write something in order to meet a market value, to not lose out on my readers nor to convince anyone of my journey. I write as and when I am driven to it unconsciously and not of conscious needs. Besides, given I literally do a million things a day - ignoring this exaggeration I do NINE things a day. Just 3 is enough to wipe any normal person out but I am built and I live differently which allows me to pursue them: Not being social, my extreme lack of interest in other people's social life or the need to have one has always given me that time and space.
But this blog post is not about my second book as of yet. It will connect to my other post. This post is about another para Ammu Joseph highlights "Among the several interesting aspects of her personality which she alludes to but does not elaborate upon is her spiritual life, which evidently grew out of a bizarre encounter as a teenager with an Aghora tantric..."
Once again like her, I have had many individuals asking me questions regarding this, wanting to know more about this part of my life which I have always avoided disclosing & the few times I do, I carefully select what needs to be disclosed. Call me old school or even ancient for that matter, but my learnings have been that way. I find spirituality like any other practice a market in itself. Those who attain a title from a reputable organization or person bears credibility and authority to convince anyone that you can turn into a levitating monkey by following certain criterias based on their own personal lived experiences. No one stops to think about how everything including spirituality comes with a context. One first attains it in order to deal with one's own shit. And as long as we continue excreting literally as we consume regular food, we will continue having shit to deal with literally and metaphorically. Therefore, spiritual wisdom or gyaan as is sold can often disillusion people as it has the subtle power to help us cope with our life troubles yet as a catch-22 in itself, it has a stronger hidden power to turn us into abra ca dabra candidates of the biggest psychological illusion - that exist in our minds OR correctly said our brains. This is called spiritual bypassing.
When individuals get in touch with me for counselling, I only focus on the psycho-spiritual and not on the spiritual. This is because I am myself yet not fully healed. I cannot be unless I distance myself from the cause of my trauma and disappear into a cave to meditate 24/7. This to me is escapism too and yet realistically a possibility very few can pursue. In fact, a lot of spiritual ideas that flood our modern world today through social media is a continued promotion of an escapist model. I often wonder how can people be so happy all the time - what in god's name are they smoking up because I definitely cannot be happy in a world filled with grief.
Grief is real. It tells us how suffering connects us all and awakens us from this illusion of love and happiness as some divine intervention meant for those who can afford it. Even to be in 'love' with some godlike being is a drug in itself that causes an invisible addiction. This removes responsibility from the person's life and allows them to feel they have been liberated. I know addiction from the roots of recreational drugs, to obsessive intrusive thoughts, to psyche-meds, to dangers of material desires and spiritual siddhis. In fact, I still do struggle with these because it is not something that can be easily removed by burning incense, chanting or praying. People need to understand the difference between rituals and inner spiritual work. The former intertwines with divination work. From augury, tarot reading, witchcraft, taseography, satanic cults, the list is quite endless. We have brains for a reason - to research and logically connect the history of spiritual sciences with agriculture, in time periods where science did not have proper tools to proof why the moon or stars could influence us psychologically.
I often role-play situations in my mind where one of these spiritual folks would meet one of my students. The thought of it sends me bursting into laughter. I would feel really sorry for someone telling one of my boys 'Oh have you heard of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. It really helps,' followed by a lengthy explanation of karma and how it can turn his life around. I'm quite sure he'd role his eye and have a bunch of gaalis (swear words) thrown at them. I am not sure how this chant would help someone who is struggling for their daily wages or just to get past a day of violence.
Those preaching this - the leaders of these groups need to provide strict do's and don'ts to newbies. I have nothing against these chants. I have been doing it since 2006 (for those who have preached it to me without being asked). After which I moved to Vajrayana Buddhism and received my initiation. Although, when spiritual practitioners try preaching their glory of divine interventions to me - you can imagine my face and words spurting out in my head too. It's no different than the response my students would have.
This business of chanting, of rituals have always been one of a social gathering. A human need in itself - where we gain confidence, knowledge, the opportunity to practice with another a specific skill set until we have fully mastered it. However, this takes time. In the old days, no student was allowed to give advice, leave aside share their knowledge with someone else before having mastered their knowledge as wisdom. Today, this does not happen. One twisted gymnastic like pose can turn you into an instant yogini. It is unfortunate that this new-age adaptation of the term has taken it out of context entirely. I avoid all such accounts as I find it misleading and a misrepresentation to practices once held to be sacred. Yoga was never about mastering 10 or 100 poses in a crash course. True yoga never looked at poses or styles. Just mastering one pose was necessary first over weeks or months before learning another.