Diksha (Deeksha) - Section A – Article #27
- Sewers of the Mind -
by Kiara Windrider
“The mind is like a sewer,” said our teacher and guide, as he began to share Bhagavan’s teachings with us. “We cover it up with a golden lid, but the stink comes through anyway. It fills the entire house, but we are so busy admiring the golden lid that we don’t perceive it. We do not know who we are. The lid is composed of other people’s concept of ourselves, which is the only way we know to refer to ourselves. We get attached to these images of ourselves.”
“Instead of cleaning out the sewer,” he continued, “we keep staring at the golden lid, which only takes us away from what we know ourselves to be, all the miserable, self-serving, loveless insecurities, comparisons, judgments, lusts, and pain that we try so desperately to cover up and mask. Someone tells us how helpful we’ve been, so we try and go around helping everybody, however empty we feel, just so we can feel good about ourselves. We believe we are nasty, so we project that out into the world around us, so people will treat us like we believe we deserve to be treated. We are always reinforcing our concepts about ourselves.”
“These concepts are like a dead rat in the middle of the room. We sweep it under the rug, but the stink is there. So we cover it up with a bigger rug, or spray perfume into the air, but eventually the stink will come back even stronger. We need to find the rat and remove it.”
“The biggest stink comes from our concepts of spirituality and enlightenment. We substitute the experience of enlightenment for concepts of enlightenment. We think enlightenment is saintliness, so we try to move towards saintliness. We think enlightenment is knowledge, so we try to move towards knowledge. We think enlightenment is perfection, so we try to move towards perfection. We lock ourselves up in the prison of our own mind – all our concepts, expectations and ideals.”
“When the deeksha is given it has to break its way past all your self-concepts. If you can begin emptying out these concepts, and honestly witness the truth about yourself in your unenlightened state, that will help. Start looking at your masks and cover-ups, all your manufactured emotions, all your self-reproach, all your insecurities. It is only when you authentically see yourself for what you are that the grace can come.”
“When we see ourselves in our vulnerabilities, when we allow our deepest fears to surface, we are no longer dangerous to ourselves or to others. Paradoxically, it is only when we accept our ugliness that we can be truly free. We become like a little child. We no longer need the golden lid to cover up the stink, and can go clean up the sewers instead. This is what the first couple deekshas will do,” added our guide. “They will help you open up the sewers.”
“Cleaning them out is simply a matter of honest observation. It is like peeling an onion. The onion is being peeled, but even when you get to the bottom, the peelings are still there. Enlightenment doesn’t mean the onion disappears, it means there is no concept of an onion left to hide behind. We see our fears, but they do not rule us, we see our lusts but don’t cover up, we see our insecurities, but accept them.”
“We do not have to get to the bottom of our sewers,” continued our guide. “That is the trauma of perfection. If we only see one of our neurotic dramas all the way through it is enough. The grace will come. Do not make another expectation about how or when it should happen.”
He looked at me directly. “There is a difference between metaphysical knowledge and empirical experience,” he said. “We metaphysically create the ideal of a ‘soul’, and create immense conflict in our minds the more we try and live up to this ideal image. The bigger our image of perfection, the further away we find ourselves, the bigger the masks we have to put on, and the more conflict and pain we suffer. The longer we are on a spiritual path the more concepts we have built up, and the harder it is to let go.”
“Empirical knowledge is about being true to yourself in your experience of the moment. The more honest you are with yourself, the more you will see how the unenlightened person is built up of masks, expectations, and ideals, all of it to cover up deep insecurities and self-reproach, core loneliness, and loss of soul. Start with that, explore that. The deeper you go into this core of ugliness, the less you will feel the need to fear it, and the more you will come out of your conflict and suffering.”
Our mind is such a little thing in the vastness of experience, I realized. We hold on to our little thoughts when the whole universe is rushing by. We let metaphysical concepts choke us when truth is so very simple. An enlightened person, when he looks at a tree, is simply looking at a tree. The unenlightened person builds up concepts about it, like ah, he is in cosmic communion, he has become one with the tree! There is nothing to become. Enlightenment is to see reality as it already is.
“Sometimes we go about pitying ourselves,” goes an ancient Ojibway saying, “and all the time we are being carried on great big winds across the sky.”
The first deeksha was to be given that evening. Our guide warned us again that the purpose of this deeksha was to make us examine the sewers of our mind. Until an alcoholic ‘hits bottom’ he cannot overcome his slavery to alcohol. Likewise, unless we fully experience the slavery of our minds, why should we seek liberation?
As we sat in the teaching hut, two more guides came in. As they began to open up to Bhagavan’s energy, they started going into high states of divine ecstasy and their bodies became channels for Bhagavan’s grace. As we went forward one by one, these deeksha guides placed their hands upon our heads, and initiated the process of neurological restructuring.
After the deeksha was given we were asked to go into our rooms and lie down. Gradually, a great sense of uneasiness began to grow within me. My social persona began to dissolve, and I began to see in great detail the games I played with people in order to manipulate them and get my own way, all the while attempting to present an image of myself as kind, loving, wise, honest, and spiritual. I saw my judgments and comparisons, my jealousies and resentments, all the while desperately trying to convince myself I was spiritually evolved.
I watched my aggression and rage, then watched the suppression of my aggression and rage. I watched the conflicts within my mind as I struggled to forgive, still resentful on the outside, still plagued by guilt inside. I watched my need to be perfect, to be special, to be unique. I watched myself reacting defensively to any assault, real or imaginary, towards the cherished spiritual identity that I had so carefully built up over the years.
I began to witness with utter horror the immense insanity and ‘ugliness’ of my mind, which Bhagavan defines as any kind of self-centered activity. I could see this extending into even the most spiritual of motivations. Was I being good because I was conditioned to be good? Was I striving to impress someone by my saintliness? Was I helping because I was afraid to say no? Did I love because I wanted to be loved back? Did I want to be recognized for being wise or wonderful? Was I feeling so empty inside that I had to run around from workshop to workshop filling myself up with every high that came my way? Did I talk about dying to self only to use it as yet another building block in my spiritual edifice? Did I want to be in total charge of my life, even when I stated I was in service to the Divine? Did I feel the need to achieve enlightenment by my own efforts, so I could finally proudly place the crown of enlightenment upon my own head?
I saw how needy and inauthentic my entire life had been. I saw that this wonderful personality that I thought myself to be was nothing but a mind-controlled robot. As I continued to observe, I noticed that over the years I had built a whole set of identities around myself. The spiritual identity was the worst one of all. I was a spiritual teacher and a healer. I was sensitive and compassionate. I was a good person. I had a mission to heal the world. I was wise and loving and deep. I saw that I had become so identified with this image of myself that these very identities became a mask. I found myself carefully protecting this image lest someone see through me into a place that was vulnerable or uncertain, angry or lustful, unloving or fearful, ordinary or shallow, depressed or shy.
I saw my desperate needs for approval, for acceptance, for love. I noticed how I was eating up the world around me in order to survive. More is beautiful, bigger is better. I noticed how true this was for me, whether this had to with a material identity or with spiritual experiences. I noticed how I was dressing up my vices to become virtues. My fear of others becomes my need for ‘solitude’. I cultivated ‘humility’ because I didn’t have the courage to stand up to abuse. I ‘loved’ because I was too afraid to be alone. I embarked on a mission to ‘save the world’ because I didn’t have any other planet to go to. I couldn’t find any love anywhere. I recognized how unloving I really was, how fragile and hollow my ego was.
I realized that I didn’t really like people. I related to them for what they could give me, whether it was love, things, money, recognition, or opportunities for advancing myself. Perhaps they would recognize my light or tell me some nice things about myself. Or perhaps it would give me a chance to tell myself I was better, wiser, more advanced, more learned, more loving than they were. Or perhaps I get to feel touched and warmed by their light, because I really didn’t believe in my own.
I didn’t much like myself either. I saw that I was forever comparing myself to others, and my sense of self came from how I felt others perceived me, and whether I thought I was good enough or lovable enough or beautiful enough. And so of course I had to put on my best face at all times. I had lost my sense of spontaneity and childlike wonder. I had lost my ability to live from my soul. Indeed, I doubted if I had ever really known my soul. All I knew was a spiritual labyrinth of the mind.
Then things got really insidious. Afraid of giving up its hold, the mind began to generate uglier and uglier versions of itself. I found myself experiencing enormous depression, self-condemnation, paranoia, and pain, desperately feeding this last illusion as if it were the only thing that was real. I found myself re-living the deep conditioning of ‘original sin’ from my teenage years. I was a worm crawling in the dust, worthy only of suffering. Indeed, it was this suffering alone that redeemed me, and the more I suffered the more I was redeemed. Suffering became the ultimate meaning of my life.
I went further back to the conditioning of my early childhood. My needs didn’t matter. Others mattered only. I didn’t exist for myself. I was nothing. I was powerless. I was empty. I suddenly realized that my lifelong struggle for enlightenment had its origins in this longing to give meaning to this emptiness.
That was it. I had reached the bottom of the sewage tank. There was nothing more the mind could churn up. I drifted off into sleep.
Strangely, during the course of this deeksha, I felt an enormous wave of relief each time a realization hit me. It was a relief to crawl out of my hole of self-pity and self-condemnation, it was a relief to take off the masks of spiritual ego, and it was a relief to see the ugliness of my mind so that I no longer had to maintain the struggle. I saw that the struggle was only the ‘me’ trying to convince itself I was good as opposed to something else that was ‘not me’ that I could identify as bad. I was continually projecting this bad onto other people, or to outer circumstances, or to shadow aspects of myself that were somehow part of my ‘subconscious self’.
When I could see myself in all my ugliness I could finally come to terms with reality. I wasn’t frightened by it anymore. I no longer needed to resist it, or even to take it personally. I even became a bit bored of the whole drama. After all, it’s not even my own mind. “Strangely,” our guide had said, “when you see your ugliness clearly you no longer need to act it out. When you see your ugliness clearly, you no longer need to behave in an ugly way.” When I gave up trying to ‘look good’, I could truly be myself. The war with the universe was over!
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