It does not matter what we use to achieve
self-justification: the wisdom of sacred books, diagrams or charts,
mathematical calculations, esoteric formulae, fundamentalists
religion, depth psychology, or any other mechanism. Whenever we
begin to evaluate, deciding that we should or should not do this or
that, then we have already associated our practice or our knowledge
with categories, one pitted against the other, and that is spiritual
materialism, the false spirituality of our spiritual advisor.
Whenever we a have a dualistic notion such as, "I am doing this
because I want to achieve a particular state of consciousness, a
particular state of being," the automatically we separate ourselves
from the reality of what we are.
If we ask ourselves, "What is wrong with evaluating, with
taking sides?", the answer is that, when we formulate a secondary
judgment, "I should be doing this and should avoid doing that," then
we have achieved a level of complication which takes us a long way
from the basic simplicity of what we are. The simplicity of
meditation means just experiencing the ape instinct of ego. If
anything more than this is laid onto our psychology, then it becomes
a very heavy, thick mask, a suit of armor.
It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual
practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means
stepping out of ego's constant desire for a higher, more spiritual,
more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue,
judgment, comfort or whatever it is that a particular ego is
seeking. One must step out of spiritual materialism. If we do not
step out of spiritual materialism, if we in fact practice it, then
we may eventually find ourselves possessed of a huge collection of
spiritual paths. We may feel these spiritual collections to be very
precious. We have studied so much. We may have studied Western
philosophy or Oriental philosophy, practiced yoga or perhaps studied
under dozens of great masters. We have achieved and we have
learned. We believe that we have accumulated a hoard of knowledge.
And yet, having gone through all this, there is still something to
give up. It is extremely mysterious! How could this happen?
Impossible! But unfortunately it is so. Our vast collections of
knowledge and experience are just part of ego's display, part of the
grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in so
doing, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as
But we have simply created a shop, an antique shop. We
could be specializing in oriental antiques or medieval Christian
antiques or antiques from some other civilization or time, but we
are, nonetheless, running a shop. Before we filled our shop with so
many things the room was beautiful: whitewashed walls and a very
simple floor with a bright lamp burning in the ceiling. There was
one object of art in the middle of the room and it was beautiful.
Everyone who came appreciated its beauty, including ourselves.
But we were not satisfied and we thought, "Since this one
object makes my room so beautiful, if I get more antiques, my room
will be even more beautiful." So we began to collect, and the end
result was chaos.
We searched the world over for beautiful objects - India,
Japan, many different countries. And each time we found an antique,
because we were dealing with only one object at a time, we saw it as
beautiful and thought it would be beautiful in our shop. But when
we brought the object home and put it there, it became just another
addition to our junky collection. The beauty of the object did not
radiate out any more, because it was surrounded by so many other
beautiful things. It did not mean anything anymore. Instead of a
room full of beautiful antiques we created a junk shop!
Proper shopping does not entail collecting a lot of
information or beauty, but it involves fully appreciating each
individual object. This is very important. If you really
appreciate an object of beauty, then you completely identify with it
and forget yourself. It is like seeing a very interesting,
fascinating movie and forgetting that you are the audience. At that
moment there is no world; your whole being is that scene of that
movie. It is that kind of identification, complete involvement with
one thing. Did we actually taste it and chew it and swallow it
properly, that one object of beauty, that one spiritual teaching?
Or did we merely regard it as a part of our vast and growing
I place so much emphasis on this point because I know that
all of us have come to the teachings and practice of meditation not
to make a lot of money, but because we genuinely want to learn, want
to develop ourselves. But if we regard knowledge as an antique, as
"ancient wisdom" to be collected, then we are on the wrong path.