One of the greatest misconceptions about spiritual practice is that it is selfish. Unfortunately, the world is full of pseudo-spiritual “paths” that really are nothing but self-indulgence. Real practice is the opposite. When we actually do it, the world changes on a deep and subtle level.
It’s hard to fathom this. Few people want to grasp that by turning inward and giving up our hate, we change the world. The truth is, these people would rather have spiritual practice be something they do for themselves alone, as small selves. When confronted with the reality that the stakes are higher than that, that practicing carries the added weight of responsibility to the world, they don’t want to take on that accountability. But we are all accountable in this way, whether we like it or not, and whether we practice or not.
God enlivens the world; that means God enlivens all vibrations, including the most prevalent vibration of the moment. In Indic traditions, there are three foundational vibrations, which combine like the primary colors to make up the manifested universe: tamas (inertia, ignorance, and darkness), rajas (activity, desire, and pain), and sattva (calm, clarity, and brightness). Right now, the world is steeped in tamas—in ignorance, complacency, and destructiveness. As tamas moves toward rajas, our actions are colored with this darkness, which manifests as hate. How does that affect each of us? Tamas and rajas will influence us based on the makeup of our small selves and how detached we are from them. The more we are detached, the more we move toward sattva—wisdom, discernment, and peace—and so we are able to see tamas for what it is and respond appropriately.
Whether we are active in our hate or complacent and therefore passive in our hate, we are sharing in the vibration of darkness and ignorance. We are contributing to the evil in the world. The only way out of evil is to shine the light of sattva on it. Then, with the conscious awareness of our agency, we work to still by facing and being with this vibration of darkness. Each of us needs to still for all of us.
This is true because, from the standpoint of the Absolute, each of us actually is all of us. We are the Self of All. In that sense, every person exists simultaneously as a manifested being and as the Unmanifest. We exist as manifested beings in relative reality; here, we each appear as separate entities existing in time, living and dying and performing actions both good and evil. But in Reality we are the Absolute, which is pure Love. The Absolute gives rise to the manifest. Just as Christ said that everything, both good and evil, comes out of the Heart, all manifestation comes out of the Absolute. God is All.
From the standpoint of Absolute Reality, there is no good or evil. Everything is God. In relative reality, though, we enact different parts in the cosmic play. Some of us will do mostly good and some of us will do mostly evil. We are all in the Great Game, and we are accountable for what we do as characters. We live as individuals in a universe of cause and effect, and we must reap what we have sown. It all ultimately balances out, but at some points the Great Game tilts into tamas. This provides an opportunity for the good to rise up and right the balance, just as in World War II people arose and joined together against the evil of Nazism. Without such evils, goodness gives way to complacency, which then gives rise to outright evil. These cycles are just cause and effect playing out, so that every character in the Great Game has a chance to choose God or not.
This is what we are seeing now. For instance, ISIS is clearly evil, but in truth God dwells within its adherents just as much as in the most saintly people on earth. Ebola is a natural evil, and it, too, is a manifestation of the Absolute. But in relative reality, we cannot pretend we are in the Absolute. In the Great Game, the good must be accountable and stand up for Truth; otherwise, there is no redemption for anyone. We can actually make a difference. All of us.
But how we go about making a difference makes all the difference. Standing up for Truth must begin within each of us. We can only take appropriate action outwardly if we have realigned ourselves with God inwardly. We cannot come from some self-deceiving place called “our truth”; we have to throw our idealistic notions into the fire of Truth. Only when we accept where we are, redirect our will, and surrender to Love can we free ourselves from ignorance and hate, and discern right action.
By turning inward, accepting our own self-hate, and working to be still rather than project that hate outward, we contribute sattva to the world. This is the spiritual practice enjoined on us by so many traditions, scriptures, and teachers. By using our will, we redirect our attention back into the Heart, the cave of the Self, and rest there. From that stillness, we can see and act clearly, without attachment.
Baba was here to help bring the world back from the vibration of evil. He spread his message and awakened the spiritual energy in hundreds of thousands of people. Though only a few wanted what he really had to offer, most people who encountered him found their lives unexpectedly changed for the better. For each person who received Baba’s grace, the world shifted. It was then their task to practice inwardly and continue in their own lives the work he began. Those who truly practice know there is nothing selfish about this work. They know that each step they take toward God moves everyone in that direction.
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