The spiritual adventure

"Freedom begins where ignorance ends." Victor Hugo

The spiritual adventure

The ego wants to be rich, or to be famous, or to be loved, or to be powerful, or all of these simultaneously. The ego gives up the pursuit of one particular desire only to pursue another more intense, more promising one. If its desire is oriented towards spirituality, then the ego wants to free itself, to spiritualize itself, to transfigure. Whereas it is destined to disappear, to leave an empty space.

As soon as it approaches a spiritual teaching, as soon as it joins a group, an ashram, a religious community, an order or an initiation school, then it seems to the ego that the spiritual adventure, ‘its’ spiritual adventure, begins. Will its expectations, its frustrations, its wounds, its doubts and questions finally be resolved, find their fulfilment? It devours books, multiplies meetings, encounters and collective activities, possibly travels back and forth from West to East, gets involved in an organization, meditates, exercises, identifies with great figures reputed to be ‘spiritual’ who become its models, in short: it has the clear sensation of transforming itself, of walking a path, of ‘progressing’.

This ‘adventure’ seems more like a more or less conscious routine, a dizzying ride on a roundabout, than an authentic Way of self-knowledge. The wooden horses of the colourless roundabout of day to day life have, for the occasion, been repainted in blue (the colour of Krishna) or in purple with golden underlining (the colour of the priest-king in ancient Egypt). The thundering fairground music has been replaced by a recording of Tibetan gongs or the chorales of Johann Sebastian Bach. But the unnoticed circular dynamics remain the same: the so-called ‘adventure’ is just spinning round.

The characteristic of this frenzied waltz is that it gives the impression of moving forward. Whereas it is much more a matter of accumulating than of stripping oneself; much more a matter of filling oneself with intellectual and sensory information than of growing in consciousness. Of course, the flashing lights don’t show exactly the same colours at each turn of the roundabout; different pieces of music follow one another. And the sensation of a wind on the face, proportional with the speed of the roundabout, participates in the exhilarating illusion of a journey towards a sublime goal. Everything is undertaken to forget and make you forget the despairing and sterile repetition of the hours. The ego clings a little more to its so dear ‘wooden horse’ at each turn of the roundabout.

There are all kinds of roundabouts, with all kinds of colours, and all kinds of themes; some are huge, others are tiny, some are fast, others are slow; with accompanying music in all kinds of tones, smooth or pompous. This gigantic ‘amusement park’, the human society, contains countless roundabouts. They fill every available space, except the narrow places between them, where people crowd together and stand about, waiting for their turn to climb on to one of them.

Here, every taste, every quest, every temperament can be fulfilled. Countless are the roundabouts dedicated to the themes of love (sex, family, friendship, charity, religious devotion, etc.), wealth (finance, property, luxury, collections, personal development, etc.), power (military, economic, political, occult, etc.), celebrity (sports, arts, science, intellect, spirituality, etc.).

You can of course ride another wooden horse on the same roundabout, or even switch to another roundabout as you want. The competition between them seems fierce. However, on closer inspection, though they may look so different by their sound and visual scenery, all the roundabouts belong to only one owner, a single organizing ‘holding company’ named: MAYA. Its slogan: ‘always more!’ Always more sounds, more noise, more speed, more bright and multi-coloured lights flashing tirelessly; always more hype, deafening announcements, teasing winks, just like those American or Japanese boulevards dedicated to entertainment, lined with giant animated neon lights. The sole vocation, the sole mission of this vast, sprawling enterprise is to stun the masses and individuals with an ever greater, ever more accurate and personalized technological control. Because it is thanks to your energy that the roundabout you’re standing on can keep on turning. It would never occur to a manager’s mind to run it empty, with no customers, and therefore at a loss. Without customers, a roundabout will have to collapse or adapt.

The spiritual adventure really begins when one gets off the roundabout, out of saturation, inner discomfort, disgust, disappointment, disillusionment; when the call to inner silence, to the immobile centre of all the roundabouts of existence, becomes more powerful than the joyful cacophony, more powerful than the desire to ride an umpteenth ‘wooden horse’, to take on a new role, a new material or spiritual identity; when one is finally withdrawing; when the cup of dual experiences is finally full to the top; or when one is simply ejected by the centrifugal force of the roundabout, for lack of grasping, for lack of motivation. Because nothing keeps us stuck on a roundabout but our own motivation to be on it.

What do we discover once we get off the roundabout? Or better said: what do we rediscover? The starry or sunny sky, the trees or the buildings, the grass or the asphalt, just as they’ve always been. It’s a return on steady, solid ground. The Earth also spins around, but with a natural pace, with no intention. It sends us back to our repressed cosmic dimension, forgotten in the drunkenness of the ceaseless whirl. What then remains of the so-called ‘adventure’? Nothing, except the sensation of having dreamed, of having been lost inside a labyrinth, of being a castaway washed up by the waves on an improbable shore.

No more landmarks, no more habits, no more citadel to be conquered, no more knowledge to gather and structure, no more experiences to glean in the fields of fragmented existence, no more ‘progress’ to make, no more images or rewards to collect. Nothing to gain; nothing to lose either. Magical balance! Huge, deeply peaceful emptiness! Silence of the thinking, surrender of the will! Infinite, serene desire with no goal! The ‘amusement park’ which, as its name suggests, ‘amused’ us, is fading, gradually erased from the memory itself; it remains on the restless surface of this ocean of human passions towards the bottom of which our own desire to BE inexorably attracts us. Happiness with no shadow, and no comfort! Ultimate openness, so much desired, and so much feared also!

The spiritual adventure then really begins, that is to say a new inner life, a completely different pace, a completely different perception. Far from any roundabout. The energy from which everything originates, which creates and nourishes everything, including the countless roundabouts of existence, is then met, rejoined, experienced, embraced. It is returning home, returning to the heart, to the centre from which we once fled out of immaturity, out of the need for experiences.

The authentic spiritual adventure inevitably leads where one would never have imagined or desired to be. The spiritual adventure is an immense open space, a territory both unknown and recognized, with no horizon or paths; it begins after having consciously passed the last road marker, right at the edge of the coloured map of the ‘known’; it begins where the paths of thought and imagination fade away, are lost, diluted into the unembraceable immensity of the Universal Life.

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Date: November 19, 2021
Author: Jean Bousquet (Switzerland)
Photo: Pixabay CCO

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