Throughout the decades, various spiritual teachers have encouraged us to turn away from the world and everything that constitutes the illusory as opposed to the real.
We’ve been continuously encouraged not to embrace the world as much as we embrace our growing spirituality, and the case has been made that worldly things are temporary and only lead to unhappiness, whereas spirit is permanent and, if ceaselessly focused on, can lead to everlasting bliss.
According to a lot of spiritual teachers, once we get a taste of spiritual bliss, we tend to stop caring about the world. We start to care more about finding spirit and discovering ourselves as God, and the illusory aspects of this reality cease to interest us.
Most seekers will want to go as deep as they can once they get a taste of spirit, and they might see the world in a new way that causes them not to respect or appreciate it as much.
This quote from Paramahansa Ramakrishna is a good example.
“After enjoying divine bliss, one looks on the world as cow-droppings.” (1)
This second quote expands on the idea.
“If a man enjoys the Bliss of God, he doesn’t enjoy the world. Having tasted divine bliss, he finds the world insipid. … Can worldly pleasures and sex pleasures be compared to the bliss of God? If a man once tastes that bliss, he runs after it ever afterwards. It matters very little to him then whether the world remains or disappears.” (2)
I appreciate what these quotes are saying, which, in my eyes, is that spirit is a more refined reality that’s more worth our time and energy to focus on.
The painful and ultimately illusory nature of this world could cause us to want to turn away from it when we become spiritually aware, and there are plenty of quotes from various teachers and texts that encourage us not to focus as much on the world as we do spirit.
I think those quotes intend to convey that it isn’t as worthwhile to focus on the illusory aspects of this world as it is to focus on the spiritual aspects we’re rediscovering. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this world – it’s what people have done to it that makes it hard to live in.
I’ve said before that earth is as heavenly as we let it be, and we can create heaven or hell here if we want. The thing about the third dimension is that it’s connected to ‘both’ realities – the heavenly and the hellish, and our quality of life here is determined by which reality we feed.
We don’t gain anything from focusing on the cultural aspects of our society that seem designed to keep us from socially and spiritually progressing, but the conditions we humans have created on earth shouldn’t necessarily speak for this world as a whole.
The awful things humans have done on earth don’t have to diminish its beauty and heavenliness – unless we let them. If we abandoned the earth in favor of a greater spiritual reality that exists beyond our conscious perception, I think we’d do just as much damage as if we focused solely on the distractions that come with living here.
We don’t want to be overly dualistic, even though duality seems to be the earth’s nature, and we can embrace this planet without getting lost in the cultural distractions and distortions so many spiritual teachers have warned us about.
I do think the distractions are what they intended to warn us about – not the earth itself. I’m sure most spiritual teachers recognize that the earth can be heavenly or hellish, and some of them have probably encouraged us not to abandon this world, but instead, to use our spirituality to make it better.
This third quote from Ramakrishna also encourages us not to lose ourselves in the distracting aspects of life on earth. He uses sexuality as an example.
“Sex-life with a woman! What happiness is there in that? The realization of God gives ten million times more happiness. Gauri used to say that when a man attains ecstatic love of God all the pores of the skin, even the roots of the hair, become like so many sexual organs, and in every pore the aspirant enjoys the happiness of communion with the Atman.” (3)
Can you imagine what that’d feel like?
It seems like it’d be much better than the physical pleasure we attain from sex, and the great thing about it is that it’s a deeper, more meaningful pleasure. Now, imagine if you could attain this ecstasy from right here on earth by staying aware and refusing to be distracted.
I think it’s possible, and we can attain mastery from a world that’s filled with stress, strife and agony if we’re dedicated enough. All it takes, in my opinion, is the refusal to rest on our laurels and the willingness to see just how beautiful and magnificent this world can be.
The earth gives us so much, and all we have to do is open our eyes to see the miracles that are all around. Living on earth doesn’t automatically mean we’ll be distracted, and we can have earthly thoughts without them becoming destructive or distracting us from our greater purpose.
As long as we stay vigilant, our spiritual evolution will be a breeze and we’ll eventually enjoy a heavenly reality that doesn’t exist in some far off location out in the cosmos, but right here on earth.
We’ll have created earthly heaven by consistently turning within and anchoring spirit onto a planet that needs it and the love it provides, and we’ll see that nothing about the earth itself keeps us from spiritually evolving – beyond the distractions we’ve created.
I appreciate this quote from Swami Vivekananda, who tells us that the world, with all of its bliss and agony, is an illusion we created to learn, grow and roam around in.
“This world is a superstition. We are hypnotized into believing it real. The process of salvation is the process of de-hypnotization. … This universe is just the play of the Lord – that is all. It is all just for fun.” (4)
Every lower (and higher) realm is technically an illusion, but nothing stops us from creating heaven in this glorious illusion we’ve manifested. We’ll eventually be in a state of mind/heart that’s far beyond the finiteness of the earth, but for now, I think we should see how far we can take our spiritual evolution before we leave the earth for the next higher realm.
I’d want to stay on earth as long as I could before moving on, and the idea of sustaining a higher vibration here is more appetizing than leaving for greener pastures. We can find the greenest pastures right here – we just have to open our eyes and see the miracles that are all around.
- Swami Nikhilananda, trans., The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1978; c1942, 753.
- Ibid., 756-7.
- Ibid., 346.
- Swami Chetanananda, God Lived with Them. St. Louis: Vedanta Society of St. Louis, 1997, 61.
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I’m a twenty-one year old writer, musician and blogger, and I created The Culture of Awareness daily news site.
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