The past couple of days have been ugly for investors in stock markets around the world, including here in the United States. But I've been pretty much unmoved and unworried by the downturn.
Why? Because quite a few years ago I decided to embrace index investing, where you don't try to be smarter than all the other guys/gals who invest, you just have a goal of doing as well as the general investment climate.
A few years ago I wrote about this on one of my other blogs in "Index investing lets me relax in a stock market crash." And I've come to take the same approach to spirituality.
Here's links to posts I've written on this subject, along with an excerpt from each. They're listed in the order I wrote them.
Spiritual diversification, a sound salvation strategy (May 2005).
Wise financial professionals advise that if you want to save money for retirement, it’s best to invest in index funds. Increasingly, people do. But when it comes to saving their souls for eternity, most of those same people will put all of their spiritual nest egg into one basket—a single religion that they expect will support them both here and hereafter.
We here at the Church of the Churchless say, “that’s foolish.” Spiritual diversification makes as much sense as financial diversification. No, even more sense. For sometimes savvy (or lucky) investors do beat the market by buying stock in a single company. And they can prove it by having their CPAs work up a statement of net worth.
But no such proof exists in the sphere of spirituality. No religious figure can show you how his or her investment in a particular spiritual practice has paid off in terms of salvation. The claims made in supposedly holy scriptures such as the Bible, Koran, Talmud, Dhammapada, Adi Granth, Vedas, and so on are just that, claims. Unsubstantiated, unproven, unbelievable.
...In short, I’ve become spiritually diversified. I try not to set rigid boundaries around what I believe and what I do. I try to look for inspiration in lots of different places, people, and writings. I try to become aware of all that is real about both physical existence and whatever metaphysical realities exist beyond the world I know now. I try to be content with what the cosmos brings me rather than considering that I’m entitled to unique dispensations.
Here’s the interesting thing: my faith is stronger now. As I’ve lost faith in particular religious approaches, my faith in a universal spirituality has become stronger. Again, this is akin to how my financial philosophy has changed: I’ve lost faith in the value of choosing individual stocks and bonds, but I’ve gained faith in the wisdom of investing in the entire universe of equity and debt investment possibilities.
Spiritual investing takes nothing (May 2005)
There’s a difference between worldly and other-worldly markets that I neglected to address sufficiently before. When you buy a monetary index fund such as the Total U.S. Stock Market, you end up owning a piece of every single company stock in the United States. Thus diversification is accomplished in a manner that is easy to understand: own a little bit of everything.
But to invest one’s soul in the Total Cosmic Spirit Market means taking an exactly opposite approach: owning nothing. You diversify widely into the One by not clinging to any part of the Many—anything that can be demarcated by name or form.
“God,” after all, isn’t part of this world. Whatever or whoever God is, the unknown ultimate reality that is given this utterly meaningless name (which is why I like to put it in quotation marks) obviously isn’t something that we can point to and say, “There it is! And this is what it is like!” If knowing God were that easy, there wouldn’t be any divine mystery to unravel.
...Most religious believers like to think that the mystery of God is elusive except for the special revelation to which they, and they alone, are privy. Not true. There are no exceptions to maya. If you can give it a name or a form, nama or rupa, it’s part of maya. A revelation, by definition, is something revealed. That means you can point to it, describe it, define it, delineate it.
Thus the Bible is maya, illusion. All of it, New and Old Testament alike. Ditto the Talmud, Koran, Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching, Upanishads, Adi Granth, Course of Miracles, Conversations with God, and, naturally, the Church of the Churchless. Everything I’ve written on this weblog is part and parcel of maya, including that last sentence.
There’s only one way out of maya: nothing. You get out of an enclosure by finding the empty space—a door. The door is useful because it is empty. It isn’t composed of the same substance as the walls, floor, and ceiling. If it were, then it too would be part of the enclosure.
Something empty and hidden connects everything that can be sensed or conceived of. That something we don’t know is what we really want, not all the things and ideas we do know. It alone will satisfy, because only it is permanent, real, substantial. It goes by lots of names: Spirit, Tao, Buddha Nature, countless others.
Profitable spiritual investing (October 2008)
Last night I was with a group of people who discussed the ins and outs (not to mention the ups and downs) of investing in tough times like these.
I didn't have a whole lot to say.
Briefly I held forth on the Buddha-like nature of index fund investing, where you don't try to beat the market through some clever scheme but rather rest content with rising and falling in concert with the overall financial tide.
I told my friends, "If the world and national economy go to hell, so will our investments. If things improve, so will our portfolio. It's a humble way to invest, since you're happy to be average."
This is pretty much the same way I feel about my spiritual investing strategy now.
For many years I thought I could beat the system. That is, find a way to salvation, God-realization, enlightenment, or whatever, that would lead to a better result than others would enjoy who weren't privy to the inside knowledge I possessed.
...Mystics and theologians often speak of God as unspeakable. They urge us to think of God as being beyond thought. Rather than seek a divine light, embracing darkness is recommended – the via negativa.
I'm no longer so big on embracing Nothing. I still love the notion of emptiness, of becoming a receptive vessel that can be filled with truth, happiness, knowledge, and other good stuff (including money).
However, the notion that there's a Nothing on the other side of Everything – Christians would call this "God," Taoists "Wu Chi" – maybe this is just a meaningless concept lacking any foundation in reality. People who want to make money don't ask, "What is the ineffable source of wealth?"
They just invest. Not in nothing, but in something. Hoping to get more of it: something.
...The ultimate questions of life basically are answered (or ignored) by "Things are what they are; the universe is what it is." That's real spiritual index investing.
Why atheists are more "spiritual" than religious believers (November 2014)
Maybe this statement seems paradoxical to you: I feel more genuinely spiritual now that I've stopped believing in God. But it makes good sense to me. Here's the main reason why.
I no longer feel special.
Virtually every religion and spiritual path considers that its adherents have a special relationship with God or whatever other supernatural entity they believe in.
There are so many chosen people on Earth, they vastly outnumber the unchosen, the non-special group I'm pleased to be a part of.
I understand that feeling special has its own delights.
In my case, I was a member of an India-based spiritual organization which taught that those approved for initiation by the guru had been "marked" to return to God/heaven after a karma-cleansing meditation process.
For about 35 years I embraced the enjoyable belief that, out of all the billions of people on this planet, I was one of a relative few who were the special beloveds of the supreme being.
Of course, devout Christians, Jews, and Muslims feel the same way, along with countless believers in other theological belief systems.
Eventually I started to realize that all the talk I was hearing about being "humble servants of the Lord and the guru" was, to put it bluntly, a crock of shit. Genuine humility wasn't much to be seen among devotees of my spiritual organization.
Since members of this group were told over and over that they've been singled out by a higher power to learn cosmic truths and experience realms of reality not available to other human beings, naturally a pervading sense of "tribal" pride was evident throughout the organization.
We were the cool kids in the spiritual lunch room. Other faiths were inferior, since they didn't have the direct connection to God we did.
I'm happy that this form of egotism has been discarded.
Sure, I've still got lots of other self-centered tendencies rattling around in my psyche, as we all do. But to get rid of The Big One, a belief that God had chosen me to be his best buddy for eternity, whereas my infidel wife wasn't going to get the same afterlife prize -- this increased my humility quotient by a lot.
Now I don't expect that I'm going to have any different sort of afterlife anyone else does. Namely, I strongly suspect, none at all.
I also don't expect that there is any power guiding my life which isn't also directing the lives of every other entity on Earth.
Thus I've embraced a sort of "index fund" approach to spirituality.
Meaning, I don't try to beat the market. I don't assume that I have any special knowledge, any special talent, any special relationship with reality. Whatever laws of nature apply to everybody else, I'm content with.
"Since members of this group were told over and over that they've been singled out by a higher power to learn cosmic truths and experience realms of reality not available to other human beings, naturally a pervading sense of "tribal" pride was evident throughout the organization."
This rings true. In our Sangat about nine or ten years ago there was a newer Satsangi of only four years who had been a devout catholic nun for decades. I remember a phone conversation with her. She was both disappointed and distraught that Baba Ji had said Sant Mat wasn't the only path to enlightenment. He had said there were other paths also. But she bemoaned that after all she had been wrong all those years praying to Jesus, and she thought she had finally found the one true Master, only to be told this wasn't the only path. So then what is the true path?
It took me a few moments to figure out why this would be a bad thing to her.
"Look," I tried to explain, "you weren't on the wrong path before and you are not in the wrong path now. All that love you showered on Jesus, that's God's love in you. It comes from within you that is divine. You didn't make that love. Just as you didn't make yourself. It's perfect, it's a gift, even though we don't understand it. Nothing was lost. It's just moving the same money from one bank to another, and with each wave of sincere love. The account grows and grows. It hardly matters what bank you keep it on. You put it in the bank closest to your home. That's a great place. "
Posted by: Spence Tepper | December 07, 2018 at 09:17 PM
This above article says it all perfectly. The three paragraphs above just before the heading "profitable spiritual investing"
The point I was making, in the comments at "the absurdity of sach khand", before it got into a lengthy discussion about the eternal (non ending) nature of the universe, was exactly what Brian has written much more clearly above: namely that everything here is maya, no exceptions. Not even the universe.
And the way out is the empty space, the not-maya, which cannot be described. This is exactly what sant mat guys call "shabd" except they have made the classical mistake of giving it a "form" (light and sound) so they are chasing it, once again falling into the same trap of making god a noun.
Posted by: Osho Robbbins | December 07, 2018 at 11:35 PM
Maybe some unknown dealings of Babaji Gurinder Singh Dhillon surface up.
Posted by: Juan | December 08, 2018 at 02:12 AM
Quote Osho Robbins:
" ... everything here is maya, no exceptions. Not even the universe.
And the way out is the empty space, the not-maya, which cannot be described."
Yes, Osho Robbins, that is exactly what Brian seems to be saying. (Somewhat surprisingly, I have to say.)
I'm afraid I don't agree.
To think of this as "maya" would be to imply there is something that is not maya. If what we see around is all there is, then it makes no sense to think of this as illusion or maya merely because this is transient.
As for "the way out" -- why, we're now firmly in beliefs-land when we start thinking and speaking of "a way out" of all this. If this is all there is -- then there is no question of any way out of this, except that our consciousness ends at one point, at which moment of annihilation we cease to register anything more.
To think and speak in terms of "a way out" clearly implies a whole worldview for which there is no evidence.
While the above, what I said, is my view on "what is" -- nevertheless, I confess, I devote a not insubstantial portion of my day to specific practices (based on three separate systems) that seek to uncover exactly these layers, that I'm saying there are no grounds to accept.
So, while it seems both you and Brian are wrong in thinking and saying these things -- you're basically sharing beliefs for which there is no evidence -- nevertheless I do hope that something along those lines might actually turn out to be the case, and that my "practice" -- humble and ineffectual though it is -- might let me share in some form in that greater reality.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | December 08, 2018 at 05:38 AM
"Malvinder said the board meeting was held to decide to recover the money from the Dhillon group. However, he claimed that Shivinder went to the Hanumen Road office and tried to disrupt the board meeting in order to derail the recovery process, though he is not a board member. Malvinder said when he came to know of the episode he rushed to the venue. As soon as he reached there, Shivinder assaulted him, he claimed.
"Shivinder, on his part, denied Malvinder's claims as" false and fabricated " and said it was Malvinder who hit him.
Had they only followed Brian's advice and invested through index investing so this would have been avoided., but no, they had to have it all.....
Fraud and flawed characters..The Dhillon legacy.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | December 08, 2018 at 08:13 AM
@ Brian - I agree with that post.
@ Spencer - disheartening this is. But I agree with you too. Flawed and loads of brain washing
Posted by: Arjuna | December 08, 2018 at 09:55 AM
Hi Osho and Appreciative
Osho you wrote
"namely that everything here is maya, no exceptions. Not even the universe.
And the way out is the empty space, the not-maya, which cannot be described. This is exactly what sant mat guys call "shabd" except they have made the classical mistake of giving it a "form" (light and sound) so they are chasing it, once again falling into the same trap of making god a noun.... "
And Appreciative, you responded
"As for "the way out" -- why, we're now firmly in beliefs-land when we start thinking and speaking of "a way out" of all this. If this is all there is -- then there is no question of any way out of this, except that our consciousness ends at one point, at which moment of annihilation we cease to register anything more.
To think and speak in terms of "a way out" clearly implies a whole worldview for which there is no evidence."
Let me offer a third view I call Oneness.
The universe is really one thing. It can be reduced to one thing called energy, in one form or another, and space, in a very large span of time which we occupy moment by moment in different places here.
It takes many forms.
And we are witnesses to a few of these through these biochemical vessels.
We can see only a tiny fraction of the individual forms, places and actions that fill this universe. We can also conceptualize what we've learned into a larger understanding of our connectedness to this time, this location, this body, this idea, these beliefs, this whole.
Our mind can make symbols and put them together in different ways, so we can invent things that didn't exist before.
All of this is reality, though we only witness a small part. And science has confirmed some things, but there is much that science doesn't know yet.
To call this illusion would require another benchmark for reality which, in comparison one would make the claim for illusion.
Today I see something I didn't see yesterday. By comparison, yesterday I was in a little more illusion, and today I'm in a state of more reality. I got to this place through some learning and reflection. That's how I know that now I see things differently.
I didn't leave. Well, I'm no longer living yesterday, but I didn't have to do anything to get to today other than live through what has taken place between yesterday and today
The world is the same world, same reality. A layer of my own illusion has fallen away. I've entered a place, psychologically of greater clarity. But the world is the same and I'm still a part of it.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | December 08, 2018 at 01:00 PM
THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JEEVAS (Souls + ego)
No singel exception
They will all return to the one (Brian's 'existence'). , . . ALL
Each atom, each quark
no other destination
There is just some difference in Time to exit
That'sall - All of us will enjoy, smile about it , what happend here.
But U must believe it - We really must - to hav it ended in a reasonable period
because what we believe ( think quantum ) will come forth
Posted by: 777 | December 08, 2018 at 05:44 PM