Some of us are lightworkers, preparing for Ascension. Others are lightholders, seeking enlightenment. Of course Ascension is enlightenment, but some lightholders prefer the latter term and not the former.
Lightworkers, lightholders, Himalayan yogis, dervish dancers – all sincere paths lead to the same, one God. One of the reasons Sri Ramakrishna incarnated was to show the truth of that statement. He tells us:
“I have practiced all religions – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity – and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu sects. I have found that it is the same God toward whom all are directing their steps, though along different paths….
“Wherever I look, I see men quarrelling in the name of religion – Hindus, Mohammedans, Brahmos, Vaishnavas, and the rest. But they never reflect that He who is called Krishna is also called Siva, and bears the name of the Primal Energy, Jesus, and Allah as well – the same Rama with a thousand names.
“A lake has several ghats. At one, the Hindus take water in pitchers and call it ‘jal’; at another the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani.’ At a third the Christians call it ‘water,’ Can we imagine that it is not ‘jal,’ but only ‘pani’ or ‘water’? How ridiculous!
“The substance is One under different names, and everyone is seeking the same substance; only climate, temperament, and name create differences. Let each man follow his own path. If he sincerely and ardently wishes to know God, peace be unto him! He will surely realize Him.” (1)
There are also some elements that are common to all paths and, in the interests of helping to create a cross-cultural spirituality, I’d like to look at one of them.
That commonality is that all paths stress the importance of the heart, the center, the middle, the balance point, whether as location or as quality.
As location, the middle or center is the heart. Knowledge of it unfolds. One can go as deeply into the heart as one can possibly imagine – and beyond what one can imagine – or so I’m told.
To say the heart is to say the Self. (Or no-self if you prefer.) Many of us picture our soul as being shaped like our body. If the soul were shapeless, like a light, would we still consider that our soul? And is that light any different from our heart? Heart, light, and soul are one and the same.
Another way of saying that is to say that the heart is the seat of “I.” The “I” thought, according to Ramana Maharshi, arises in and from the heart. Once we follow the “I” thought to its source, we find the cessation we’ve been looking for.
As quality, the heart is associated with love. Kathleen might say that the whole matter of spirituality “is blindingly simple. The answer is love.” Love is senior to anything that can be said – with one exception.
That exception is that the end of life, the event that occurs in the last moment of individuality and brings with it the loss of individuality in God, is to know ourselves as God. We can make love our path to that knowledge, but there’s no substitute for the realization that we are God.
As quality, the heart is also the seat of moderation, balance, equanimity, serenity.
The heart, the center, the balance point is distinguishable from the extremities or peripheries of emotion and belief. People who hang out in the peripheries and extremes tend to have busy minds, which mitigates against enlightenment.
People who abide in the heart are equanimous and serene. They have a quiet mind, which as far as I know is the ultimate in spiritual practice. It’s as far as we can go under our own steam.
In the quiet mind, the truth is known. In the still pond, the moon is reflected. In a windless place, the flame does not flicker. The place of quiet, the place where the mind is still and silent and God is realized, is the heart.
When we talk about being present, staying in the moment, being in the eternal Now – none of this would be possible without abiding in the heart and having a quiet mind.
In the quiet mind, no vrittis or waves of thought arise from us. They can pass through from outside and not of our own making. But if we observe them without attachment or engagement and speed them on their way, we remain quietly in the heart.
In the moment of knowing, enlightenment, and evolution, God meets God. For that meeting was all of this – everything outside our window, everything inside our heart – created. Our purpose is to know ourselves as God and Mother/Father God’s purpose in creating all of this was and is to encounter Her/Himself in a moment of our enlightenment.
In terms of qualities, what pulls us away from moderation and a quiet mind is our attachment to our many desires. There’s lots to enjoy on this planet – food, drink, music, art, sex.
Until we choose between attachment to these pleasures and knowing God, we remain in an endless cycle of desire, lifetime after lifetime.
I didn’t say “abstinence.” I just said “attachment.” That’s an important distinction.
As one teacher said, the problem in spiritual terms is “I want” or ego and desire. What it wants is the fulfillment of its many desires.
We don’t have to surrender them. But we do have to surrender attachment to them. We walk the middle way, not of total abstinence, but of moderation, non-attachment.
Falling back into the heart, we’d reach a place of balance, I’m told, which is equanimity, which itself leads to serenity. Arriving at a still and silent mind, we’d find the answer to all our questions.
After six unsuccessful years of ascetic practices, Buddha heard a man in a boat say: The string must not be too tight or it will break. It must not be too loose or the vina will not play. That stray remark (and many years of meditation) opened him up to the way of moderation and balance, the Middle Way.
The middle, the center, the heart, the stillpoint. Moderation, balance, equanimity, serenity. All of this is bound together. All of this is a commonality of all the paths I know of.
As lightworkers, we often don’t think of ourselves as being on a path per se. We think of ourselves as servants and stewards. Of course that is a path (karma yoga, seva).
Ours is an active path, building Nova Earth. Because it is, I suggest we think of our path in an active way: as mastering the ground we stand on. (2)
As lightworkers, we’re mastering the middle ground, the ground of moderation and balance. We can be met on that ground. We can build on it. We can take a stand for workability on it.
We stand on the middle ground because we know where it leads and we want what it promises: a still mind and enlightenment. And we stand on it because we strongly suspect and trust that it’s the most solid foundation upon which to build the mutual cooperation our global roles require of all of us.
(1) Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 35.
(2) I have in the past suggested that the appropriate path for lightworkers who share the activity of writing is emergence. Looking now at a more active phase of lightwork, I suggest that mastering the middle ground is also important. It isn’t a case of either/or, but both.