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Time with a Teacher

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Time with a Teacher

        Spending time in the company of a good teacher is very important in the practice of yoga. Chapter 6:23 of the Bhagavad Gita states, “yoga must be practiced with faith, with a strong and courageous heart.” In essence, this means that satsang with a Guru/teacher is very important. We must never give up on our sadhana, as we must always study and practice to be better devotees. Buying a few books on spirituality will never really help us; it may provide us with consolation, or temporary relief from our dilemma, but it will not ultimately change our condition of suffering.

        To really have a shot at changing our orientation towards life would require a dramatic shift in our priorities; we would have to become a lot more devoted to God, and less devoted to ourselves. In order to ultimately to become enlightened, we would have to devote our whole life to God. The problem is that most of us do not know how to devote ourselves, or practice, and furthermore, most of us don’t even want to practice. Truly, it was by the grace of my Guru that I was given the chance to learn how to practice. This grace provided me with the tools to realize more intense forms of happiness.

       Many people that I have talked to, particularly Westerners, don’t seem to think they need a Guru. This is the myth that propels the self-help movement. The message generally is “I realized happiness on my own and so you can you!” I can testify from my own experience that frequent and direct contact with a spiritual friend is essential to the enjoyment of real happiness. As Bodhidharma once said, “Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.” I find this interesting because a lot of people in the self-help movement seem to be saying that they don’t need anyone to help them but themsleves. I am definitely not one in a million in this context of whom Bodhidharma speaks, neither were most of the great sages that we know of, including Gautama Buddha. In this context, the true devotee of God is a devotee first and a teacher second. Being a teacher is not a status, just a function, and at the end of the day the teacher is just a devotee. Life is the real teacher! Life is  what is communicating to us and teaching us in every moment and through everything, and most of us need intensive contact with a teacher in order to translate this communication into a language we can understand.

       The human Guru is a part of us, as they are a representative of our greater nature. Without the human Guru there would not be the opportunity to realize Nirvana. I cannot, and will not, be able to ever separate my spirituality from my Gurus, as they are a progressive expression of different stages of awakening in my own spiritual journey. If you have ever spent any time with one, you know what I am talking about.  Don’t believe the self-help myth: we all need help. How can the ego grant itself such graceful gifts such as enlightenment? Truly, it is God that gives us everything that we have and need. The true process of initiation is always through the direct transference of wisdom from one initiate to another. Realization is best served through the direct communication of an adept.

 Please visit https://www.alt-yoga.com/alternativeyoga to view some of Hermes more recent work. Thank you


The Transcendence of Selfishness

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The Transcendence of Selfishness
Selfishness or self-absorption is a form of suffering which leads to dis-function. The transcendence of selfishness makes us capable of functioning. Spirituality involves responsibility, the more awake you are the more strength you have to stand up for what is good and true. Spirituality is about facing your responsibilities, not avoiding them. A spiritual friend or teacher is needed in order to provide us with constructive criticism, so that we can transcend our selfishness and enjoy positive self development. By developing the capacity and appreciation for constructive self criticism, we can enjoy more enlightenment in our daily lives

                                                                                                           Hermes


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The Pitfalls of Sadhana

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The Pitfalls of Sadhana

They [people] like not being afraid; they like feeling safe and secure. But what I’m saying to you is that you are already safe and secure in God, and you basically have identified with things that are temporary, and associate that with your security and that’s why you feel threatened.  Conditional existence has no security; there is no stability in anything that is temporary.  Our existence is only momentary, it’s like grasping at something that’s here for a moment and then it’s gone. 

So we get into that kind of process, through the process of being born. We become identified with objects, states, conditions that we find consoling.  

It basically springs out of individuation.  Out of that comes the desire to seek.  So when you are talking about happiness or enlightenment, you are talking about completion, actually being full.  It’s like having everything you want out of life and not being afraid to die anymore. 

Basically, the whole society is driven on people avoiding this understanding.  In essence, the ego tends to avoid Reality.  So the ego survives by living in fantasies, or illusions. With actual teachers, their job is to communicate Reality.  And ultimately, when we are talking about Reality, we are talking about something that you can’t communicate through words. 

So the problem is that people have a lot of ideas about what Reality is, that are false.  So people are living in a false reality, they are deluding themselves.  And the reasons you have so many misconceptions in spirituality is because all conceptions are false.  Basically, enlightenment can’t be achieved.  So when people say they have achieved it, they are deluding themselves.  It’s actually a big risk, under ‘sadhana’ [picks up sheet of paper and reads], *it says, ‘one of the big risks of sadhana, spiritual work, is increased ego.’  Because what happens is that you start thinking you are ‘spiritual’, when you are still just as egoic as you were before. But now you are calling it ‘spiritual’.  Sort of like saying, ‘I’m being spiritual now,’ when they are seeking just as much as they were before.  So you find that, just like you were saying in that movie, people will spend time with gurus and follow them around and that whole time they believe they are being spiritual, when really they are actually brainwashed.    

*Hermes is referring to one of the pitfalls as outlined in samasti sadhanaSadhana is a spiritual practice done for the purpose of attaining higher aims such as liberation (moksha) or enlightment.  Samasti sadhana is the higher form of niskam sadhana, of which is only possible with a correct guru.  Samasti sadhana benefits both the individual and the community, instead of solely the individual who is practicing sadhana as in the other forms, I.E. niskam sadhana, and vyasti sadhana.

(This is a transcript from a talk given by Hermes in 2012)

Copyright © Hermes 2012

 


Spiritual Life Transcends Ego

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Spiritual Life Transcends Ego

Conventional religion and spirituality are very different than spiritual life. Having spiritual, or religious beliefs is not the equivalent of living a spiritual life. Sadhana, or spiritual practice, requires us to move beyond belief. When we are no longer afraid, we embrace the divine directly. The direct experience of God transcends conditional thought patterns. Exclusiveness and provincialism are egoic fallacies, which only exist to reinforce the illusion of separate existence. All perceptions and beliefs are aspects of the ego, as they must ultimately be transcended for happiness to be realized.


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