Spiritual Journey

Rev. Dhammananda, Mahayana Buddhist monk, South Korea, BYB Diploma Course student 1996

“A spiritual man lives from moment to moment without planning, free like a cloud floating in the sky. He lives without a map and moves without a map for the future. The real thing is not the goal, but the beauty of the journey, the travelling itself. If you are too concerned about the goal, you will miss the journey. The journey is life. It is an infinite journey. There is no beginning and there is no end. In fact there is no goal. It is the creation of the mind. Every moment is the goal.” This quotation is from Rajneesh.

The scriptures and books of the masters contain many nice sutras and quotations. Some say spiritual life is not related to any religious morality, or to anything good or bad, and that even a lot of sadhana is not necessary. Some also say that sutras and quotations are useless and should be thrown out. Taoism says, “No discrimination. Only when you stop liking and disliking will things be understood.”

I also followed that kind of idealism or philosophy but without any experience of higher consciousness. It was very nice to quote such things to other people. I felt very happy because I used to think I was in a higher state. Some people really believed that I was a realized or special being. I told them, 'I am Buddha itself. Buddha and I are no different. You are also the same and everything is void. Why do you worry about that kind of thing? It is like a bubble of water and the dew of the morning. They will disappear as soon as the sun rises. Our life is like that. It is illusion. Why are you crying? Don't worry, be happy!'

So I became very optimistic. I always smiled. I didn't care about money or clothes or food. I tried to be satisfied with whatever I was given. But I knew there was still anger, greed, desire and the basic instincts inside me. When there were nice people around me who thought as I did, with whom I could fulfil and live my ideas, I was satisfied. But once there were unpleasant situations or serious problems, I could only manage the first two or three times with that idea. After that I would become involved and my mind would also become agitated and upset.

Then my friend advised me to forget it because everything is impermanent. 'Why are you worried about that kind of thing? It is like the bubble of water and the dew of the morning; it will disappear as soon as the sun rises. Our life is like that. It is illusion. Why do you cry? Don't worry, be happy.' What! He seemed to be ridiculing me because I had become too involved and had lost my rationality. I shouted at him, 'Go away! Please leave me alone otherwise I will kill you.'

So I understood that a nice philosophy was not enough to get rid of all my suffering. I tried to find a way to become free from suffering. For a long time I searched for a method here and there. I learned many different kinds of practices, for example, mind control, TM, Taoism, Dan Hag (a kind of modern Taoism), Ki-Gong, etc.

Then I heard of a great master who knew the past, present and future and could cure diseases, and who could also give high spirits to his followers, protecting and teaching them. I thought, 'How nice! I should go and see him.' I said to Rev. Ananda, one of my teachers, 'Rev. sir, I have heard of a great master who knows everything. I'd like to see him.' 'Do so,' he replied.

After some time I heard of another master who could give healing powers like Jesus Christ. Even though the guru had died, that power to heal could be received through initiation. By wearing a small yantra as a necklace, one could use this power to heal without even touching the patient. I thought, 'Oh, how nice! I should go and find out about it.' So I said to Rev. Ananda, 'Rev. sir, I'd like to go and learn about it.' And he replied, 'As you like.'

After a while I saw a book about a famous master who could open his disciple's sahasrara chakra in one second during a secret initiation. The cosmic consciousness could be experienced, no more small self, no more suffering. One could become a God within one second! I thought, 'Oh! How nice. I have to go and learn it even though it is very expensive.' So I asked Rev. Ananda, 'Rev. sir, I want to go and learn that method.' He replied, 'Yes, you can go but I don't have any money for you.' 'It's okay,' I said, 'I can manage. Thank you very much sir.'

Some time after that I noticed there was a supreme master from the Himalayan mountains – such a beautiful, great and humorous master. She had came to our country to give us enlightenment immediately, free of charge. Wow! What an amazing master she was! Just from seeing her picture my mind and body started to shake because of that deep impression. Just by hearing her tape I felt my heart purified and freed from defilement. Her eyes shone with the light of enlightenment. She said, 'I will remove all your previous karma, then there will only remain this life's karma. Otherwise you can leave this body and I will give you enlightenment immediately.' I thought, 'I must go, I will become perfect, an enlightened being.' So, I told Rev. Ananda, 'Rev. sir, I have very good news. There is such a nice master waiting to welcome me. I must go and become enlightened.' He replied, 'That sounds very nice. You can go and learn it.'

So after learning from all these masters I thought maybe I was an enlightened being. But I also didn't know because as one Zen master says, “Before practice a mountain is a mountain and water is water. During the practice the mountain is no longer a mountain and water is no longer water. After enlightenment the mountain is just a mountain and water is just water.” One who is enlightened also eats food, drinks water, goes to the toilet, even gets angry sometimes, just like a normal human being. We don't know who is really enlightened because some saints are so normal. They can also play social roles like father or brother, even beggar or prostitute.

But Rev. Ananda said, 'Oh, why are you so foolish? Even if Jesus Christ came again, do you think you could become enlightened at once? So many people had eyes and ears but even so they couldn't realize Him. They even killed him. There were also many devotees and disciples who followed him but how many disciples were enlightened? Even if his father, God Himself, manifested in the form of guru, do you think you would get enlightenment from Him immediately when you are not ready? If you are not ready then it's none of your business. So please awaken from your dream of making a fortune at one stroke.

'First of all you must prepare yourself. That is really important, nothing else. Even though the guru gives light, if your candle is of poor quality how can he impart that light? If he does light your candle, it will produce a lot of smoke or a bad smell, and will also be extinguished easily rather than shining brightly. If you are ready it will come without guru or God. So, please, awaken from your illusions.

'Remember what Lord Buddha says: “Man is his own master and there is no higher being or power who sits in judgement over his destiny. One is one's own refuge, who else could be the refuge?” He admonished his disciples to be a refuge to themselves and never to seek refuge in or help from anybody else. Whatever good you do will definitely give you a good result. Whatever bad you do will yield a bad result. So do your own sadhana step by step by following the noble eightfold path: (i) right understanding (samma dittihi), (ii) right thought (samma sankappa), (iii) right speech (samma vaca), (iv) right action (samma kamanta), (v) right livelihood (samma ajiva), (vi) right effort (samma vayama), vii) right mindfulness (samma sati), (viii) right concentration (samma samadhi); and by following the eight steps of ashtanga yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi, basically with karma yoga and bhakti yoga.

'Please awaken from you dream of making a fortune at one stroke. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of human beings. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa died of throat cancer because he took on the karma of others. So what? Am I free from karma? Some masters don't have a successor. Does this mean that their power or their enlightenment is not enough? No. You have wandered enough. If you wander again and talk about foolish things then I will break your legs and tear your mouth and never see you again. Okay?'

There is another quotation from Rajneesh. “The spiritual path is a pathless path. It is not ready made. We have to find it. Nobody else is going to help us. Buddha walked his way! Mohammed walked his way! Jesus Christ walked his way! Ramakrishna walked his way! But those paths are not going to help us because we are not them. We are unique. By walking on our own feet and by leading our own life, we can follow it. You are alone, you came alone, you will go alone. No one comes with you when you are born. No one goes with you when you die.”

Therefore, it doesn't matter what my way is, whether my life is spiritual or not. I only have to proceed from my own level, step by step, until the achievement of void, of dhamma, of complete perfect void. So from now on I will keep mouna and wander no more, otherwise my mouth and legs will be in danger!