On Individualistic Spirituality

In my opinion, on some social networks there appears to be a tendency to avoid challenges altogether in order to protect beliefs.

The rationale seems to be that the intent of the challengers is merely to « make wrong, » and that those who challenge are just not « confident in their own beliefs. »

But what then if the intent is not to « make wrong » ? What if the intent is to shed a different light ? What if the prompting comes from the heart and not the ego ? What if the ego tries to ignore the overwhelming need to challenge, but ultimately fails ? Should we abstain from challenging simply because we are confident in our own beliefs ? Should we simply let others cope on their own however they can ?

To me, there’s a major flaw in this abstention. In fact, it would be correct if we were not intrinsically related to one another. But we are…

In my view, there is a form of individualistic spirituality that seems to be rampant these days. In the vocabulary of Buddhism (I use it because it’s the one I know), this would be the equivalent of the Hinayana, which is the so-called « small vehicle » which leads to the so-called « small nirvana. » In my understanding, its hallmark is detachment, whereby one can free themselves, to a certain extent, by recognizing how their attachments cause numerous sufferings.

But this detachment is also a form of attachment, and the detachment cycle must culminate in detachment, not only of attachments, but of detachment itself, and even from the notion of attachment-detachment. This is necessary in order for true engagement to take place, wherein one can truly invest themselves in worthy objectives without egoistic concerns for their own sake.

In Buddhist terminology, this is equivalent to the mission of the Bodhisattva who vows to free not only themselves, but the whole world. This lofty undertaking is not merely an apparently noble but ultimately rhetorical gesture. The Bodhisattva makes the vow because there’s no other choice. When one truly realizes how they are indeed their whole world, then individualistic liberation becomes nonsensical. Why do you think the original Buddha kept on preaching and teaching and setting up schools after enlightenment ? How can one seriously claim to be in any way enlightened while parts of themselves are left utterly in the dark ?

In other words, the so-called small nirvana is all well and good in theory, but in practice, exactly because we are one, exactly because I am you and you are me, exactly because there is no outside, exactly because there’s only this one infinite consciousness that we all partake in, large parts of the world crumble around the Hinayanist while they revel in their navel.

If it were not true, who would need to seek enlightenment ? People would have learned detachment a long while ago and the matter would have been settled for all eternity. But obviously, it is not the case. Small nirvana is actually child’s play. It’s not even one tenth of the battle. « *eff* you » is not the ultimate spiritual way, it’s the way of those whose understanding doesn’t reach beyond their own ego.

In doubt, try it for yourself. It doesn’t take much effort to sever one’s outflows. Anybody with sufficient determination can achieve this in a matter of a few years, and probably even quicker than that if they really mean it. Then, try to remain silent if you can, try to remain aloof. And when occasions for repentance keep arising despite your sainthood, then you’ll know that you cannot let your brothers and sisters in the dark without suffering the sorry consequences.

But thankfully, such a thing cannot happen, exactly because we are all one, we are irresistibly attracted to each other, we are overwhelmingly compelled to interact so as to dispel the utterly dark parts of ourselves.

I exhort you, do not be mistaken, this has never been a « I’m-okay-never-mind-the-others » kind of thing. There’s only one mind. Either all of it is enlightened, or none of us truly is. Either we all go, or nobody goes.

Obviously, there is still work to do. And here is my challenge to you : stop resting on your laurels and start fighting for real !


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