Why practice when you can celebrate?

I stood by the door of the School for Being Orientation to pick up a folder. I didn't know what the school was about but I had heard a bout it the day before and 'being orientation' sounded good. Moreover, it was only a ten-minute walk from my house. The woman from administration told me that a three-day course was beginning the next day.

This workshop would give me a picture of the training needed to become a being-orientation counselor. Being-orientation councilor? Expensive; three days for E285. But I saw the fact that I was just in time as a sign of pre-destination. And, 'being-oriented councilor' sounded good as a job prospect. It would be a reasonable follow up to my study of psychology. I had been without work for a few years and I viewed looking for work like climbing a mountain. Could I actually do something? I got the shivers just looking at job vacancies. I would rather lose myself in computer games. I could be the boss there. In addition I did some volunteer work just to feel a bit useful.

Luckily I could rationalize all this from the advaita point of view; consciousness doesn't worry about a job. This rest was not destined to last very long because my advaita teacher warned me about the advaita-shuffle. That means the removing a troublesome subject to the 'level' of Consciousness where it appears to be solved; a spiriting away trick.

Why follow a way of becoming?

The possibility of beginning on a six year training to become a being-oriented guide gave me courage again. It was certainly very expensive, but that would only serve to motivate to seek work. The next day I sat in a circle with thirty other participants. Many stories from people who felt that there had to be more between heaven and earth; they had read the books by Hans Knibbe, the founder of the school. For some of them it was 'the joy of recognition'. Another lost advaita person was walking around. He spoiled my party immediately with the question: 'Why a six year way of becoming, only to come out at being, where you already are?'

After the round of introductions it was time for bio-energetic exercises and meditation. That wasn't new for me. I had been meditating for years at the School of Philosophy before I came in contact with advaita. The meditation consisted of the repetition of a mantra that you could not disclose (thus Ram with a long a). I meditated on that mantra for six years, half hour in the morning and a half hour in the evening. And that wasn't everything. There was also the stillness practice, physical work with attention to the work surface, calligraphy of Sanskrit letters, seeing your self in the other, and a whole lot more. All that practicing gave me a feeling of direction. You worked towards a goal. You rise to become a tutor or teacher via a hierarchy of not meditating, meditating and reflecting. Because I had no other social status I wanted to become a teacher. I didn't succeed in that but others who had been in the school for a much shorter time than myself did succeed. That didn't cause my ego to disappear, but to protest. I also missed answers that would give insight into questions while I did find wisdom in books such as 'Consciousness' by Alexander Smit. Finally I stopped with the School'.

Dancing through beautiful gardens

Nevertheless I allowed myself to be seduced by a school and with a tremendous feeling of déjà vu I participated in the workshop of the School for Being Orientation, ready for the visualization exercise. With my eyes closed I allowed myself to be lead. 'Imagine you are walking through the land of being. You see a path before you. At the end of the path stands the house of Being. You open the door and there stands the figure of Being.' I saw before me the dancing Shiva. 'Make contact with the figure.' Four arms embraced me. 'Be absorbed in the figure of Being. You are the figure of Being itself.' It had always been impressed on me to never make a notion of Being. As a result it had unconsciously become something empty and neutral. Now I experienced an intense fullness of smell and color. Moved along by the current of sensual warmth I allowed myself to be danced though beautiful gardens. My skin was no longer a boundary and I melted into the whole. There was only enjoyment where the dancing arose.

Suddenly my adventure appeared to be a farce

This experience pepped me up immensely. It inspired me to take another stand in life. In that I didn't need so much to reach something, but to let myself go. My euphoria suddenly disappeared during the closing address by the group leader. In the address she spoke about the training for that attitude; twenty minutes meditation every day, and in addition body work every day. One needs to remain practicing even after the six-year training. Even she was not yet finished after fifteen years. That didn't seem like anything that I wanted to get involved with and after that I only heard a sort of blah, blah, and blah. Still, at the same time I also found it attractive to get involved in the program. At least you would have a roof over your head for six years. And after that you have the status of being-oriented instructor.

When I got home I called an advaita friend for advice. My question, which was seriously intended, got a humiliating laugh as answer. 'How can you capture what precedes all images in an image? That illustrates again how people can become stuck in their practice.' Suddenly my adventure seemed like a farce. I saw before me how I stood there dancing with my arms spread like wings and I felt a certain embarrassment.

Dancing the dance

In the frugal weeks after this workshop something started to bother me. It didn't feel good to be spiritually busy and not work. I suddenly thought: 'enough of that advaita; first a paying job and then we'll see further'. I used the volunteer work as spring board to get over all sorts of resistances; calling people, organizing things, bringing out ideas, receiving criticism. I let myself go in my 'ego-pursuits', but with certain playfulness. Anyway, it looked more like a Shiva dance than an advaita-shuffle. I got more and more satisfaction from my work so that I had less time for computer games. My feeling of self worth grew again and my allergic reaction to job offers disappeared. Meanwhile it was no longer about results, but just about dancing the dance. Nevertheless a good paying job fell in my lap from an unexpected corner.

Why not just celebrate?

As far as the seeking is concerned, the many exercises from the School for Philosophy had brought me no insights. It was more of a straitjacket. With an advaita teacher, not having to do anything was on the contrary relaxing. In that being relaxed the feeling of trust in already being home grew. In the visualization exercise I experienced a similar feeling of not having to reach anything, but of just letting myself go. Sometimes things happen during spiritual exercise, but the same thing can happen by not practicing. Maybe it is about the place from where you practice. In my case a lot of the spiritual practices came out of a lack of trust, or that there is something just over the horizon that you have to reach and then... That is practicing out of mistrust of yourself because you still do not accept that you are already home. However, I don't see anything wrong with practicing as a kind of 'celebration'. Enjoying listening to the sounds in the woods for example. But is that still practice? Does practice still exist? Why not celebrate at once?

[D. the Doer]