The yearning to burst through culturally imposed boundaries is rapidly turning the population towards gateways never before opened. As centuries old scripts of Pali, Sanskrit and Tibetan are translated into contemporary roadmaps, insight previously available only to the pious is now streaming into the mainstream marketplace. Dissolving divides between East and West, these modern messages are morphing the internal landscape of our lives, providing keys to unlock doorways leading to our greatest potential.
Although now virtually every codified spiritual tradition now dances beneath our fingertips, with this new rhythm also comes more — everything. More traditions, more teachers, more options and more opinions. The once unknowable may be delivered to our inbox within seconds and riding tandem with this light-speed emergence has arrived new way of learning.
Attempting to keep pace, the fastest route to assimilation has transmuted into the 10-Step, quick fix method of alleviating our problems and achieving mental calm. Yet, the speed propelling us in the direction of serenity is counterproductive to its very attainment, specifically the driving force toward attainment. Mistaking information for knowledge, the challenge very often lies within the commodified version of our approach.
At the time these traditions were developed they were not designed for mass distribution, consumption or digestion. Widespread marketing tools were not yet conceived and oral transmission served as the most prevalent means of communication. Those qualified to do so, could explain in exacting detail, the practical meaning supporting the words being handed down — practical for the time. Groups were formed to study and debate, while the concepts were deeply meditated upon.
The wisdom drops imparted, even in the centuries in which they first appeared, often required interpretation and certainly, analysis. Accepting this insight, much of which is complex, without critical evaluation, was never the fundamental intention. Words merely provide seeds of understanding; the cultivation occurs through learning to listen not academically but with an open heart.
But how do we do this?
These age-old Masters walked the path for themselves — very unique and individual ways toward self-realization. As more solutions to happiness enter our periphery, it is imperative to continue focusing our attention into two key directions, towards simplicity and self-mastery. This means slowing down and choosing wisely that which we allow to enter our mind stream. It’s through purposeful selection that we reduce the information we attempt to amass and gradually move our attention inward.
The path is this easy and it’s also this hard.
Constant re-tuning of our attention away from life’s seductive distractions and steering towards only thought form and behavior which advance personal growth is the heart of personal development. It’s our natural source of power — transforming information into experience, understanding, and ultimately, wisdom. Redesigning these cross-cultural and cross-millennia messages into a modern atlas, alerting us to twenty-first century potholes and shortcuts is the purpose of a guide or teacher. But it is Self who is the ultimate Guru.
Focusing on specific methods of study or a tradition to follow doesn’t mean that we are entering a narrow path of elitism. It merely means that in order to develop self-mastery we have to choose. Just like travelling from New York to LA, eventually we must select the route we will take — which doesn’t always equate to the fastest. It’s important not to rush the process, take some time and savor the ride.
The path is not to be mistaken for the destination; it’s merely the vehicle we’ve chosen to make the journey. And a good teacher can act as a spiritual GPS, understanding our present location and imparting personalized instruction. It is however, personal practice that fuels our movement forward, bringing clarity to the scenery we encounter and constantly re-energizing our efforts. Thus, allowing us to penetrate the truth beyond words — as the Masters of the past originally intended.
~ by Christine Fowle