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Together for a Purpose

by Swami Suddhananda

The Light of Consciousness I was once, for a time, part of an organisation for teaching humanity's timeless nondual wisdom. What others did or did not do was not my concern. Whether others understood or not was not my concern. What the teacher or teachers did to hold the organisation together was not my problem.

When I finally understood the teaching and knew my essential Self, I was deeply grateful to the teachers, to the organisation and to the people within it, to my family and ultimately to God 'himself'. When I walked out of the organisation, I walked away knowing the wisdom within and with a heart full of joy and thankfulness. Today what I received has manifested in my own teaching work which is known as the Foundation for Self-Knowledge.

Whether students stay with me or move away, they too should keep the wisdom they have gained with them and also, if possible, nurture gratitude in their heart. Then they will be a decent person and a blessing to themselves and therefore cannot help being a blessing to others. Wisdom should be present in our every role as the situation demands, never ever forgetting one’s own essential Self.

However, when spiritual seekers have a little knowledge without understanding, or a lot of knowledge without awakening to What they really are, and think that they have arrived at the truth, they often become a wolf hiding under a sheep's fleece. There may be millions of such people in the world, but they don't bother us until we meet one in real life. Let me tell you about one such person that I had dealings with.

He was a smiling seeker, not one with a genuine, compassionate smile or one that revealed wisdom, but a disposition that showed that he was at least not grumpy. At the time, I was looking for young men and women to come and study the scriptures with me so that they could later on devote their lives to the propagation of the timeless wisdom of Self-knowledge.

I wanted to help them make the great transition from apparent confinement to limitless freedom, from mere pleasurable sensations to uncaused joy -- which is real happiness; from relative security to the unborn, undying life where limititations like time and space gently surrender to an Infinite embrace.

Swamiji This vision makes me always an inspired and enthusiastic person who cannot accept any type of defeat or suffering in life. I notice that where there's no such vision, people usually surrender helplessly to the miseries caused by ignorance.

Recognising the limitations of finite thinking and the relative nature of worldliness, I was willing to drop these limited, and therefore, limiting notions. When the teaching opened up the potential of limitlessness, "I" happily surrendered to be one with the Absolute. That was the most effortless, sweetest and most blissful transition ever to take place! Nothing more remains to be done and the song of the Infinite lingers forever and ever.

That inspires me to fill every life with the same song, which is already the universal song that is shared by everybody -- that of course includes you and me. Any human being can sing this song and that is what I have always felt. Because of my own experience of that wonderful, blissful and surprisingly easy transition, I have always felt that everyone else could do it and that it would also be instantaneous for them.

That was my mistake -- my over-enthusiasm. I still consider that everyone can make this great transition, but now I see it has to be in 'their' own time and not in 'my' time (this timeless moment). Each one will take his time because each comes with different kinds of collected baggage in their heads. They have different agendas, programs, plans and expectations in their heads.

And here I am , not only an awakened man, with intelligence and language to point to the Absolute, but also with access to people of various dispositions -- rich, cultured, not so cultured, businessmen, powerful, weak and humble at different levels. When most people come around to solve their immediate problem, I make an attempt to show them the real problem, which is within them. Many may agree with this ultimate analysis but the immediate need for money, power, convenience or companionship is more overwhelming to many.

Some like to be introduced to people within the gathering who can provide a job, some financial assistance or a reference to some seat of money and power. Most people have those two aspects in mind. Since love in the ordinary sense of attraction towards the opposite sex, is taboo in a gathering that deals with the search for the Self or God, not many have the openness to approach this subject, but some even end up in that kind of situation.

I know people who have found a job, financial gain and companionship through the Self Knowledge connection and then quickly disappeared from the scene. There are also many who enthusiastically remained in contact for some time and finally disappeared, not because they didn't gain insights into Self-knowledge, but because they didn't get the gratification, power and sense of importance that they really came for.

For such people, their thinking seems to have been, that if they received what they came for -- that is, immediate satisfaction of a personal agenda -- then they would linger for Self-knowledge. Conflict arises from that subtle expectation, when instead of knowing or understanding themselves, they wish to become nearer to the seat of power. Instead of discovering fulfilment in themselves, they want to find fulfilment in a powerful position or to shine in reflected glory etc.

Actually, it's quite evident that organisations in the field of religion, spirituality, meditation, yoga and Self-awareness etc. are really no different to secular organisations in that people come to them for different purposes even though there is a specific purpose for which they should join the organisation in the first place.

Let us take the examples of Rotary, Lions Clubs, Jaycees etc. in which each one of these organisations has a special program where the needs of others are considered before the needs of the members of the organisation. People from different professions join such organisations and their regular meetings then become convenient opportunities for people to meet who would not otherwise become acquainted.

It may not be possible to meet an income tax commissioner or a top industrialist in their chambers, but through the fraternity of a social or religious organisation one can easily meet all kinds of people from diverse professions and levels or prominence. There are many who join such organisations more to be served than to serve. They're what have been called: social climbers.

Just as many people feel the need to join organisations such as Rotary etc. to help others, at least in name, many people also love to belong to a religious organisation to show their interest in moral living and belief in God etc. But after joining the church or whatever, they strive to fulfil their personal ambitions and forget the purpose for which the organisation exists.

Some people, with their own agenda, deliberately set out to ingratiate themselves with those they perceive to have power and influence in the organisation they've joined, and otherwise use manipulative methods to try and assume leadership of the organisation when they don't have the understanding or the leadership qualities required for such a task.

People who join organisations that have been founded on and established with a particular philosophy, with no real intention of understanding and embracing that philosophy, inevitably become diversionary or divisive and can negatively affect the interest of other members. If they cannot receive what the organisation is offering, it's far better that they leave and seek what they really want elsewhere.

That is how the smiling youth, I mentioned earlier, turned out to be. Had he devoted time to understanding himself, in being 'present' with his deeper Self, he would have walked away from our organisation in due course to build his dream -- his utopia. He would have inspired many to share his understanding and his vision ... if he had one. Sadly this did not happen.

The wise appreciate the beauty of both smiles and tears as they are, like rays of sunshine or drops of rain. But we learn by experience that smiles and tears can be uncontrived expressions of genuine feelings or they can be used for convenience. The smile of the manipulative person can be as deceptive as their tears ... in either case they reveal a state of spiritual unconsciousness.

Somewhere down the line, the unconscious seeker forgets the purpose he had when attaching himself to the spiritual organisation. Or it could be said, that his ego-based hunger for name, fame or gratification reasserts itself over the temporary hunger he had had for self-awareness. He has to return to his original habitat, but he cannot go back without defaming Self-knowledge, because he thinks that by defaming it he will prove to others that he was not a failure.

He feels compelled to do this so that he can satisfy himself that he has discarded something useless and that he is not being discarded by something sacred and eternal. That may be a temporary solace, but he will always be haunted by the glimpses of Truth that he must have encountered at one time or another during his interaction with the wisdom of Self-knowledge.

There is suffering enough in not having seen the light of truth and living in ignorance of the great treasure within, but to have glimpsed the light and to have turned away from What was seen inevitably leads to far greater suffering, and finally, the greatest loss of all.

May such people who stray, ultimately come home to their true Self so that they may be blessed and a vehicle of blessing to all. The wise have said, if you get lost, and at the end of the day, you find your way back home, it's as if you never went astray.

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