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December 2000


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An Essential Practice  

The manner in which some instructors talk about the way often bears little resemblance to the real growth and transformation that you and I experience.  From their words you would think that after using the slash and burn techniques advocated to fight your way through the jungle of your mind, you come upon a scene of utter perfection and paradise.  No weeds trouble the perfect grass, no predatory animals stalk you, nor are there any rain clouds to spoil the perfectly blue sky.  Most of all, and more important than any of these, there are no traps or snares, or anything to trip or slip on as we walk into the sunset.  Strange isn’t it, that many of those who are well known to us all, admit no fault in their path which, of course, you haven’t followed religiously if, in any way, you fall short of this sunset glow.

These five minute cures, for the overgrown and uncontrollable forest we call ‘human nature’ somehow never seem to work, because every single one of us on the path never experiences this permanent peaceful scene for very long before realising that the shrubs and weeds and traps have once again appeared, unnoticed until now, and have grown to obscure your view of peace and truth.

You see, to ensure our continued evolution, what we should really be looking for are fine, sharp, adaptable - and above all, access to - tools which will help us to control the ever present and continuous threat of this re-growth of the jungle that we fought so hard to control.  The roots of these troublesome and sometimes disabling plants can never be eradicated for good because they are absolutely part of the potential of human nature, of your very humanness.  They were potentials in each individual seed of human uniqueness; they had to be or there would be no completion available to us during our life.

Until we fully realise this fact, we have no hope of permanent and sustained evolution.  This realisation is actually one of the true foundations of real growth and transformation.

Again I will come back to a metaphor that I often use:  we must leave the light on and the door ajar to every room, every cupboard, every nook and cranny, of the mental mansion that we call ‘self’.  This is absolutely essential if you are not to suddenly find yourself felled by weeds that have grown around your feet whilst you looked at the beautiful vista before you; pestered by nagging biting animals that are invisible to the sight; or else fall asleep in this warm paradise and awake only to find oneself lost and disorientated in a new jungle of unknown proportions.

So what can we do about this very real problem for those on the path?

I wonder if you perform any kind of short daily ritual?  This is the whole purpose of personal ritual.  It has nothing to do with the elaborateness of it, or the sequence or offering, it has nothing to do with beseeching the gods for favour or transformation (for, after all, this can never be achieved by anyone or anything other than your very own self), but everything to do with your commitment to yourself and your path.  Again, it is nothing to do with those who hear or pay attention; it is the act of hearing oneself stating aloud and reaffirming whatever issues have confirmed their essential importance to you and your path.  Usually they are nothing to do with magnificent acts but simple affirmations that any true path walker would make, common to any true spiritual tradition.  Such a simple ritual should be held in the body, not the mind; it should bring forth the soul nature as the sun and warmth will nourish your overall consciousness and prevent, even for a short time, your one sidedness.  You are, after all, welcoming your passionate, sparkling, vibrant, sensual and joyful soul nature to invigorate your body, your mind and your life:  for your affirmations or statements during such a ritual should originate in your soul and not your mind.  The consciousness of all three, however, should be present.  Such an act secures any progress you have already made on the ever clearer path that you are following and ensures that you are much less likely to fall asleep, to trip, to become unaware long enough for any real damage to substantially delay your journey.

Do not think that I am advocating a kind of ‘purifying’ ritual.  This is not the time - every day - to make penance for your terrible fall from grace, for how bad you are as a person.  All this is nonsense, pure self indulgence.  Don’t let rituals from other religions taint the very simple, very real, very human few minutes that you will take to help you move one step at a time.  All you are aiming to achieve is an aid to helping you to become a very clear human being.

Without doubt you will, almost every day, feel that you are not acting/thinking/being how you should be.  But, occasionally, there will appear a vista of such magnificent beauty, of such vibrant stillness, of unbelievable clarity that such times will remain as unforgettable experiences that feed your path with energy.  To ensure you experience these times again in the future the performance of your simple ritual is the glue that helps to bind these experiences to your awareness:  a familiar thread through both good times and bad.  It provides a vitalising force for the many days when the last thing on your mind is your path - when getting out of bed may prove enough of an ordeal!

Related to this lack of vitality is the very important daily task of reconsolidating your mental defence techniques.  As much as it may be uncomfortable to confront such issues I can assure you, as can other pathwalkers, that it is quite apparent that there are definitely forces, beings, energies that are absolutely interested in maintaining the status quo with humans and their development:  they will actively try to discourage any individual who begins to clear themselves of erroneous thought and beliefs, anyone who ignites the light of truth within themselves.  Sometimes it is easy to defend oneself:  you feel vital and fully alive.  However, to incorporate simple and effective defence techniques, (perhaps symbols, magical animals, sacred objects, or more concrete and obvious items that are important or have significance to you), as part of your short daily ritual will prove very beneficial to your growth, especially when life is less than perfect, or your body tired and lacking vitality.  Do not ignore this aspect of your spiritual life:  it can be a major reason why people who have made good progress on the path seemingly go to sleep and do not wake up again for many years.  Sometimes they sleep for the rest of their life.

One other very real benefit is the fact that your ritual will always remind you that no matter how far you think you have travelled, and you may well have travelled a long way on your walk into magnificence, that a fall from grace is always possible.  This simple ritual, whose form and words will change as you do, can help you to recognise how very human you and your fellows are, how flawed, and yet how that, in itself, is not a bad thing:  it is very human.

Don’t forget this simple measure to aid your path.  It doesn’t take much time to perform and adds real concrete benefits to your life.  Do it for a few months and then stop:  its significance to your life and your path will become very apparent. 

Kala Ka la  2000

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