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April 02, 2009


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Such questions you pose!! It's a topic I've been exploring too. Maybe we simply are what we are. Period.

Very well written piece, its what i've always believed.
Can't really understand these self-help books, people are what they are.
Even Buddhism seems to deal with the ideas of unrwrapping and overcoming egos to alleviate suffering.
Surely, I, me or the inner self is the whole person including all faults and egos, if we strip that bare - the very charsimatic individual is lost.

The lack of an individuated consciousness doesn't change things as much as it might seem. You drop the self or ego and commune with God or "just this" or whatever you want to call it. Same difference. You can call that Naam or Sunyata.

I basically agree with Kirpal Singh. The inner core of all religions are the same. And that would point to some universal spiritual principles. In it's simplest form they would be: love for God and love for God in man. The rest is really just experiences captured in various metaphysical structures that all lead to the same result: communion.

Ned, I'd question the universality of your example, "love for God and love for God in man."

For sure, Buddhism and Taoism don't subscribe to that principle. HInduism also (Vedanta variety), if "God" is taken to mean a personal God. Ditto for Neoplatonism, which isn't a religion, but a philosophy.

So when supposedly universal spiritual principles are examined closely, we see that there's a lot more individuality in various practices and paths than many people think.

The keyword is "love", Brian. By universal principle, I mean "selflessness and compassion". And you can find that at the center of all religions, the concept of God not-withstanding.

Whether the ideal is to become a Sat Guru, a Bodhisattva, Wei Wu Wei, a Raja Yogi a Saint, or even a Philosopher-Ruler the names change but the faces stay the same. And the means to get there is also the same. It is described as Sahaj, Mu-shin, Grace, Logos etc. And all of them talk about seeing the light within and merging with it. Not to mention, they all speak of a master/disciple relationship as the foundation of spiritual practice.

So I would say there is a lot more in common than there are differences. They certainly have their own unique understanding, methodology and conceptual frameworks. But those aren't the principle behind them; they are the details in the foreground.


The need to keep a diary, in the Kirpal branch of SantMat is interesting.

---Is this a required activity, from the Master? Not sure if the Charan branch requires a diary.
---Does one record their sound and visual meditation experiences in this diary?
---Are these written results reported back to the Master, or some other group leader?
---If this process is correct, then there is a (subject-object) mental activity involved in the diary writings.
---However, during the actual meditation experience, is there not any kind of cognitive process occuring? Could you, Ned clear this up for me?
---What is the mechanism or bridge, from the actual meditation experience, to the mental actvity involved in writing down one's experience?

Thanks for a reply.
Best wishes to you,

ned, again I disagree. I think you're making up a commonality between religions and spiritual paths that doesn't exist. For instance...

The necessity of a guru or master doesn't universally exist. Yes, most talk of the need for a teacher. But often the teacher's purpose is to say, "You don't need a teacher." This is the case in Buddhism, Zen particularly.

The necessity of having inner experiences of sound and light doesn't universally exist. Taoism, for example, is much more centered in the here and now than a then and there. It doesn't distinguish between the esoteric and the exoteric. Experiences are experiences, whether they seem "mystical" or "mundane."

I can resonate with your attitude, because I've held onto similar concepts myself. I'm just suggesting that if you looked more closely at what you consider to be common denominators between various paths and philosophies, you'd find that they are wonderfully distinctive, not identical.

ned, a P.S...

In addition to Buddhism and Taoism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are other examples of religions that don't have a master/disciple relationship at the core of their spiritual practice -- nor do they preach the need for inner mystical experiences.

So I'd suggest that the commonalities you're talking about really are within certain varieties of Hinduism, Yoga, Sikhism, and the like, plus some fringe mystical movements within the major world religions.

Again, I think it's a mistake to view religions through one perspective, looking for signs of certain common denominators, no matter how minimal or vague, then claim that all religions have the same foundation. Actually, they don't.

to Ned and Brian,
communication is tricky. I think you two are missing each other in some ways. Ned sees that there is "a lot more in common..." while Brian writes that "they are wonderfully distinctive, not identical." Ned hasn't claimed they are identical, nor has Brian said there are no similarities. Buddhism, and zen does in fact place great importance on the teacher: "Because the Zen tradition emphasizes direct communication over scriptural study, the Zen teacher has traditionally played a central role. Generally speaking, a Zen teacher is a person ordained in any tradition of Zen to teach the Dharma, guide students in meditation, and perform rituals. An important concept for all Zen sects is the notion of dharma transmission: the claim of a line of authority that goes back to Śākyamuni Buddha via the teachings of each successive master to each successive student." This may not be a master-disciple relationship, but it certainly falls on the spectrum of teacher-student paradigm. BTW, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam may have had the master-disciple relationship as a centerpiece in their mystical traditions, which have in large part not become mainstream. See Sufism, and the relationship of Shams Tabriz and Rumi...Judaism and Christianity seem also to have their own mystical traditions. Even the "succession" of John the Baptist to Jesus and the 12 disciples smacks of a master-discplie lineage and relationship.

I am sure there may be differences in these traditions, but it seems to me that to polarize the argument along the lines of "yes" or "no" misses the point.


If you happen to read this...

Btw, I just sent you a private e-mail message which has failed and bounced back to me.

So you must have changed your personal e-mail address.

So plese send me a brief e-mail mesage asap, so I can then send my message to your new address.

You should still have one of my e-mail addresses (which are all still active and have not changed).


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