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Why Bother with Satsang or Spiritual Teachings?

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I received an email with a question that comes up in some form over and over again. Here is what someone wrote to me in response to a recent newsletter that asked for support for our transmission, teaching and free ebook programs:

"In "Nothing Personal" I learned that the real "me" is Consciousness within my Heart and also ultimately just God. Why is there Satsang?  Much less supporting it with contributions?

Here is my response:

This is a great question. My sense is that there are many levels of truth and that they are all true simultaneously. Many people are stuck in the practical and personal levels of truth and so the role of most spiritual teachings is to point to the much bigger truth of our ultimate nature as pure consciousness. But the small truths are still true, and so there is still also a place for all of the ordinary practical considerations of human life.

No matter how enlightened someone is, they still need to prepare and eat food, go to the dentist, do their laundry and so on. And so there is also a place for spiritual teaching or satsang and also for contributions to support it. But of course, if you do not have any problems with your teeth, you do not go to the dentist that week. And similarly, if you do not have any doubts or illusions about your deeper spiritual reality, then you would not need to go to satsang for pointers to your true nature. You might still enjoy satsang, but you would not need it.

I also still experience a deep gratitude for my teacher, Neelam, and so I regularly contribute to supporting her in her continuing to teach and help others, even though I do not attend her events any more. And this is true for me even though I also clearly recognize that all she did was point me to my own nature. She did not "give" me anything.

There is only truth, and there is no right or wrong experience of the many levels of truth. So if satsang and/or contributing to worthy teaching efforts has no relevance or meaning for you, then it simply is not true for you at this time. But it is still part of the truth that these activities have value for others and that on a practical level they need support to function.

You might also enjoy this piece I wrote about a similar question: http://endless-satsang.com/self-souls-and-different-levels-of-reality.htm

And finally, all of the different levels all appear within the same totality. There is no separation between the levels and it is only a question of what your awareness is focusing on in a particular moment that creates the appearance of a different level. You are always free to move in and out of any perspective as the moment seems to require. My sense is that the ideal is a total flexibility to move in and out of all of the different levels. Getting stuck in any level is limiting whether it is the relative level where problems and other people exist, or the absolute level where it is all seen as an illusion. Again because many people are stuck in the relative, spiritual teachings typically point to the absolute. But it can be equally a limiting place of suffering to become stuck in the absolute, and a good spiritual teacher will point someone back to the relative when they see someone stuck in the absolute.

I hope this is helpful.

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The Many Dimensions of Love

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Q: I've learned that Love is inherent and always exists, but I have not learned that I can love all situations.  It seems to be a seed that is within me that certain situations evoke... like music, or trees, a particular person, etc.  I even feel the flow of  love for words and philosophic conversations; but they, too, are objects.

So my question is:  Do you think we need an object to experience the flow or mobilization of our love going outwards?

A: This is a great question. My sense is that love is an inherent quality of our Being that is always present. In its essence, it is simply awareness and acceptance. I would suggest that even in the situations that you say you can't love, you are still loving--being aware of and accepting--your judgment or resistance to the situation. The flow is still happening, but it is not flowing to the underlying situation. Instead it is flowing to your resistance or thoughts about the situation. And yet, it is still love!

The difference with the things like music and nature and a new lover is that we allow that flow to be full and complete. There is no hesitation or any divided attention in those moments and so we experience a fullness of love and attention and acceptance. What a gift when the circumstances match our conditioning and we can love fully!

It is also possible to love this fully when the circumstances do not match our preferences. The trick is give that fullness of attention and acceptance to whatever is present, and if judgment and resistance are present, then you can start by loving those. What happens if you get intensely curious about your fear, anger, pain or confusion? And if you really do not like what is happening, what happens if you get very curious about the experience of not liking what is happening? What are the specific sensations, thoughts, contractions, impulses, and desires arising in the moment? If you give these a fullness of attention and acceptance, is the experience any less satisfying than when you give that quality of attention to a beautiful piece of music or your favorite pet?

As for your more philosophical question as to whether we need an object for the flow of love to happen, my sense is that we do need an object. That is probably why consciousness went to all of the trouble to create an entire universe of objects including thoughts and subtle inner experiences to serve as objects of its limitless capacity for love.

However, it also seems possible to drop into the source of love and simply sense the limitless capacity for love itself, before it moves out into awareness of objects. In the deepest stillness and silence of pure potential for love, there is no longer any awareness or even experience. There is just limitless potential for awareness that in that moment is completely at rest. You "experience" this not by seeing or feeling the source, but instead you experience it by being it. "Being it" is not better than feeling it or experiencing it in its movement as love, but it does shift your sense of self....you realize that you are the source of both the love and the universe of form that serves as objects for love. That can be a huge relief to discover that you are the source of love as it then no longer matters whether you are experiencing it or not. It is similar to how it would feel if you had a printer that printed legal money....you would no longer worry if there wasn't any in your pocket or bank account as you could always just print some more!!

It seems that consciousness itself wants to experience the entire spectrum from purely being the source of love, to feeling the fullest flow of love to the objects of manifestation, and even to experiencing how contracted and narrow love can become when it is narrowly focused on a fearful thought. Perhaps the purpose of the different dimensions of love is to create contrast so that we can more consciously and completely discriminate and know the many dimensions of love. If we were endlessly dissolved into the source of love, we would not even know what love is or what it is capable of. When we move in and out of the depths of love and beyond, then we come to know love and even embody love, as well as always ultimately being love.

I hope this is helpful :)

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Small Truths Are Still True

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Q: I have an opportunity to be trained for free and employed as a life coach. This is like a dream come true for me, a job I have always seen myself doing. However I always imagined myself working on the spiritual side of things with people, however as a foundation, coaching needs to begin with basic lessons of breaking down false belief systems, discovering real values, goal setting....but I am so "non-dual" focused and my "beliefs" tie so strongly to non dual teachings that I can't summon the energy to learn about these concepts/techniques and implement them in a practice that I know could be secondary and not wholly healing the person.

However I work an unpleasant job, and this line of work would be a great stepping stone towards developing my own practice in non dual teaching or spiritual guidance. I feel that I just don't value the personal realm enough and it causes me to feel unmotivated to learn these things, even though on the personal level it could benefit me greatly, I just can't get behind it, so to speak. Any advice would be appreciated.

A: I would first simply point you to your own heart as the best source of guidance. You can read more about how to "listen" to your heart in part two of my free ebook, Living from the Heart, available here.

The truth is whatever opens your heart and quiets your mind. However, all there is, is truth. So even if a smaller truth contracts your heart (or sense of self) and makes your mind busy, it is not wrong or false.....it is just less true. So when it comes to a practical question like this one about your career/employment, it can help to realize that there are different sizes of truth and so any approach you are considering may have some truth.

Also, when it comes to relative truths like this, the important thing is the overall climate of truth. If you focus on the advantages of a new career, your heart may open, but if you focus on the disadvantages of a possible choice, your heart may contract. So then the question is, "What is the overall experience of my self that this new direction seems to give me?" Does it open you most of the time, or does it cause a tightening most of the time when you consider it?

Another point is that it can be hard to get a clear idea of how true a practical choice is if you consider it in isolation. It helps to compare it to other options. For example, you may want to compare how true it feels to learn how to do coaching in comparison to how true it feels to stay in your same job. And there may be a third or fourth option that is even truer than either of those.

The good news is that there really is no wrong choice. Even if you follow your mind and its fears and doubts into a direction that tends to cause a lot of contraction, the even bigger truth is that your Being and your awareness cannot be harmed. You will even ultimately learn and benefit from the experience no matter what direction you go in. It helps to remember this much bigger truth as that can allow you to hold the entire question lightly. It simply will not matter that much to your eternal soul what you decide to do for a job in this lifetime! And paradoxically, it is when we are holding things lightly that our inner guidance and wisdom can operate the most effectively.

Finally, this perspective of bigger and smaller truths also applies to the philosophical dilemma you are having with the specifics of the coaching approach. The truths shared in most coaching approaches may be smaller truths than the truths shared in nondual groups and mentoring, but again they are still true, and they still have their usefulness. I would also question any assumption you may have that even after you get your coaching credentials that you will be limited to only doing what you learned as a coach with your clients. I would suggest that you can bring everything you know and everything you are to any activity including life coaching.....so maybe once you have gone through the process of getting the needed credentials, then you can create your own version of coaching. The people who can benefit from what you have to offer and who you are will naturally be drawn to you, and conversely you may find that the ideal approach with your clients is to have as many different and flexible ways of working with them as possible. It may be that meeting people where they are and helping them with the more practical limitations they are facing will be just what they need to then be able to hear about and embody deeper nondual truths.

To me the ideal is not to always experience and act upon the biggest truths, but to be completely flexible and able to respond to whatever truth is appearing in this moment. If someone's car is stuck in the snow, it may not be the best response to ask them, "Who is it that wants to get unstuck?" The ideal and flexible approach would be to help push them out of the snowbank.....and then if they are interested, explore with them the experience of their own awareness and being. The small truths of life are still true no matter how big and nondual our perspective is.

I hope this is helpful.

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The Endless Satsang advaita blog by Nirmala is a place for occasional musings and also answers to questions via the contact form on here.
Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have for this nonduality blog.