All people are different—this banal expression, which has become a commonplace of humanist discourse, is directly related to the diversity of ways in which we have interacted with God in all ages of human existence. Not only that, every ethnic group has its own peculiar characteristics, its own idiosyncratic features, which are expressed in a particular state of mind, a temperament, and other distinctive characteristics that are vividly on show at the level of the three lower bodies. Since the holocaust and the horrors of the Second World War, people do not like to talk about ethnic differences, and globalization has seemingly taken this issue off the agenda. Nevertheless, anyone who wants to understand the truth of why all the religions that have sprung up on the Earth are so dissimilar cannot avoid thinking about ethnicity and other issues relating to cultural and historical peculiarities in the development of a given ethnic group. A vast number of books have been written and a multitude of theories invented on this subject, and I do not intend to start dissecting these here. I have no intention of putting forward a new theory, either. Only in order to understand what is discussed later on, you must keep in mind the dissimilarity between different groups of people.
All religions and mystical doctrines are come into being alive, inasmuch as there is a living bearer of Truth and conductor of Will, through which they also come. They then become ossified and construct their own truths and a way of describing the world in absolute terms, establishing their own collection of dogmas. This is how we come to the fixation of knowledge, set by specific people in specific circumstances, and it is stretched out into Eternity—when some expression of Truth is confirmed as sacrosanct and absolute, even if it is not an expression of Truth but just some pronouncement by its founder on some existential question. This fixation liberates followers from the necessity of seeking the Truth for themselves and gives them the opportunity to blindly follow set rules that come “from above”. This form of knowledge, fixated once and for all, acquires “holy” status; and bringing new knowledge means going against the opinion of all decent, honest people, even if it is much better suited to that moment in time.
All that I have described above does not present a problem for the followers, as the mind loves certainty and stability, and it has a thing for ready answers that require no effort to get hold of. They simply follow their little-understood rituals and feel a contentment from making contact with something “higher”. But for the seeker, especially in the early days, all these petrified notions of Truth can sometimes be very serious barriers. Especially now that we have access the teachings of all ages, which seem to all get lumped in together. Spiritual texts maintain the absolute authenticity of the paths that they present us with, while spiritual teachers make a big deal of ideas that have been around for thousands of years. Thus modern Europeans have begun learning practices that were created in another time for completely different people. It is hard to believe that any sense could come of this, but the humanistic notion of equality and brotherhood among all people, which does not in fact exist, enables them to believe that all practices possess a universality, and are therefore well suited to anyone that wants them. This is a widespread fallacy, thanks to which we have seen a sharp fall in the realm of spiritual work. Literally transferring practices from the past to the present in most cases brings more harm than good. Even more so when the practice is from a completely different culture, which you really neither know nor understand, and nor can you understand it. So spending a long time repeating practices that you believe may benefit you in some mysterious way may in fact completely reduce your sensitivity and potentially make any sort of growth impossible. And yet, at the level of the mind there will be this conviction that growth is happening and something seems to be changing. One sees far more of these cases now than one would like to. A follower will find peace when they take this relative form of communicating Truth for its absolute form; in this situation, the seeker will fall into a trap not everyone has it in them to get out of.
It is important to remember that every human being is able to make contact with the Divine Presence. More precisely, every human being initially exists within that contact, but can choose whether to interact with Him or not. Atheists refuse to interact with God, but find their own ways of interacting with the Presence, which can be quite amusing. Those who look to Cosmic Reason, to Destiny, to Providence, to angels and other superior beings, are all trying to get to an interaction with the Presence. Not all succeed first time, but with a little perseverance something will always happen. A one-off prayer is a stab in the dark, but regular prayers will elicit an answer from the Presence and plug the person who is praying in to the corresponding egregor. Interaction with the Presence always ends with being plugged in to an egregor, but dwelling in the Presence, oddly enough, does not indicate that any special energy is being emitted. The Sufi meditation of muraqabah, or the Buddhist zazen, along with all other practices like them, bring the emission of energy within the egregors’ channels down to a minimum. Transformation requires energy, and the practices of awareness help to accumulate it. But being in the Presence and actively interacting with it are totally different practices.
The transition from the Downward to the Upward Stream means changing everything—habits, relationships and the relationship to the self and to the world, changing the quality of the energy that is emitted... There is a lot that must be changed in order to attain spiritual realization. And the energy that is required for this transition accumulates in the practices of awareness.
Transitioning to the influence of energy from the Upward Stream of Creation has the same meaning in all religions and mystical teachings—returning home, to God, and acquiring that once lost paradise. Every teaching underpins the necessity or inevitability of this return in its own way. This is where those characteristics come into play which lend people what we call their ethnicity. As a result of the differences in the external and internal circumstances of their daily lives, people invent different ways of interacting with God, or more precisely, with His Presence. Hence all the present variety in the means of this interaction, and hence the number of petrified truths, which for the most part are of no practical benefit to the seeker. Every fixed exposition of Truth generates its own form of mystical work, which is also distinct from others and adapted to the place, time and people that participate in it. For example, if there were no prohibition in Islam against images of God, as also existed in the Russian Orthodox Church up until the seventeenth century, then perhaps dhikr would never have been created, because icons may make direct reference to a tangible image of God, but the invisible God may only be felt and known through the manifestations of His qualities as they are revealed in Reality. The practice of recalling the qualities and manifestations of God that we now know as dhikr came about due to the impossibility of direct visual contact. Other practices came about due to similar limitations—or possibilities. They gave people a defined experience that would be interpreted according to the prevailing conditions of the time and the overall level of knowledge. This is how the teachings and principles, postulates and dogmas in which people were required to believe all emerged. And that would be great, if any of this were based on real experience, and not the contrivances of people full of their own bright ideas. Following them is dangerous, because when you take a system of knowledge and practices that is designed for another time and other people, you fall into a trap that has nothing to do with your own actual situation or what these practices really work for. No one cares about this now, though; they just believe if Hindus eat yogurt, and I eat yogurt then there is no difference between us. But along with yogurt, Hindus also eat certain foods we cannot even digest, and likewise their practices may give us indigestion, too. It should be said that I am in no way criticizing the practices developed in Hinduism in the process of its development, and I am only taking them as an example as they now seem to be being taught wherever they can be. It is the clearest example I can think of.
To the followers it is all the same—for them the main thing is to find a belief system that suits them. They think this enormous choice of systems is for the best. The opportunity to choose—illusory or not—will always warm the heart. For the seeker, this enormous confusion of ideas and methods of attaining Truth is anything but a simple attempt at stability. Followers look for the answers they like; they look for a state of inner compensation. Balance and order are the ideals of any follower. The seeker looks not for answers but experience which gives him personal knowledge of the question; he looks for an escape beyond the bounds of the ordinary. Followers are perfectly happy within the Downward Stream; for seekers it is cramped and uncomfortable there.
And the question always arises: why are some people only capable of following blindly, conditioned by ideas that have been impressed upon them, while others can rise above their own conditioning and move beyond the bounds of this world? As ever, there are many answers, but they are all a bit one-sided. And here it is important to remember that all people follow ideas, whatever they might be. Ideas are fuel for the mind. They give it the motivation to act and they rationalize the necessity of a given action. This is the Truth: followers and seekers start out from the same ideas but they arrive at completely different results.
There are a number of explanations as to why man must sooner or later turn to God. Most of them are built on fear—one of the most effective motivators. Sin, bad karma, final judgement and the all-seeing eye of God force people to contemplate the life that may exist on the other side of death. The desire to get to heaven or the fear of hell motivate followers to this day to go on vibrating energy into the channels of the necessary egregors. There is nothing wrong with this, after all the whole world rests on mutual support. In other words all human motivation comes from the ideas they have invented at some juncture in their life. This is why many of them get uneasy when they find out that God, as they previously conceived of Him, does not exist. And here another question arises: if it makes no difference to God whether or not we pursue Him, is it worth putting so much effort into working on oneself and making these great internal and external sacrifices to enter the Upward Stream of Creation? There are a few answers to this question.
The first goes like this: if your ego is wounded by the fact that God does not waste time watching over you, this does not mean that He is indifferent to you. The second answer assumes a certain maturity in the questioner: pursuing something higher will of itself raise a person above their own circumstances, which can sometimes be absolutely horrific. In fact, it was this that the religions and mystical movements clung to in the darkest ages of human history. The other answers cannot help unconscious people who believe that God is not very just towards them and that they deserve more than what they have. The language of desire immediately takes us back to our habitual explanations, like the laws of karma or the wrong attitude towards the reality around you. They say, if you desire correctly, positively and with specific intention, everything will be okay. This is also a way of motivating unconscious people and it costs very little.
This is the Truth: you can paint a person as many pictures as you like of the allures of heaven or the allures of spiritual realization, but if he has no thirst within him for the Beyond, your time will be spent in vain. You can talk all you like about people’s attraction to Truth, but in reality what everyone wants is not Truth but contentment. Therefore it is practically impossible to come across a direct exposition of Truth (insofar as such a thing can be done at all), instead lofty motivation comes in many forms—divine love, blessings and other good things. This is where the work of many genuinely accomplished people ends—when it suits them to talk about what people want to hear, and not about what they actually need. But do they need it?
And this is another aspect of the same Truth: no one can be brought to God through discussions about how God is waiting for you, loves you, wants to see you and suffers because you are not living right. Such discussions may deliver a person into the light, persuading him to cripple himself and others to get to heaven, but not direct him on the search for Truth. Ideas generate followers. The seeker is motivated by the opposite—he begins his search out of necessity. And this necessity is vitally important to him—unless he satisfies it, he can never feel realized in this world and in this life.
Self-realization is what people are looking for in this life. It can take the most diverse forms, but all that man is looking for is the realization of the self. There is external realization, though one way or another it is always connected with internal realization. Those who achieve success in the external world become sure of themselves and have a certain sense of fulfilment; the fulfilment that comes with the realization of one’s potential, if only a part of it. And this is how things work out: due to the force of desires, most people look for realization outside, in the world, among people. Some realize themselves in their work, by building a career, some try to do this through feelings, for example through love, regardless for whom or for what, some move towards creativity and write poetry. Any creation is linked to the act of Creation, and for this reason brings fulfilment, as in someone who senses God in the process of making worlds and creating life. In creating we become like the Creator, and this means we get a short-lived, substitute experience of true realization. This is why creative people are so hysterical and vulnerable—at the moment of inspiration they feel that they are equal to God, but after that they descend to the level of ordinary men, and this experience is like a repetition of Adam’s expulsion from paradise. You can put out as many spiritual and mystical texts as you like containing pure truth, but any response to them will only ever be found in the heart of the seeker. Here I should point out again that all people are different. But this time I do not mean this in terms of a person’s ethnicity, but his essence. There are people who are not of this world, and although in the everyday context we use this to talk about the town crazy, it also has another, more spiritual meaning. There are people who go to God and to the Upward Stream for the simple reason that they cannot exist within the Downward Stream, because originally, practically from birth they have a need for realization by returning to God. I understand perfectly well that I am now describing a new theory of divine election, but all my experience working with people and observing where people go confirms this conclusion. A seeker is born that way, while a follower is something you become. And it is hard to change anything in this arrangement.
This is the Truth: there must always be a certain number of people on the earth working in the Upward Stream. And they search for God not because he gives them blessings in exchange for this, but because in this world there is nothing that can bring them real contentment. Their realization originally belongs to the Upward Stream, although they sometimes have to live half their life or even more to understand this. The balance of the Streams has to be supported not only by those who live according to their own desires, but also those who live in service to and following the Will. This Path is not for everyone, and those who think that all people must eventually be able to become seekers are mistaken. All people may only become followers, which, essentially, they all already are.
The rule of balance is simple—if energies from the Downward Stream begin to take over, strengthening people’s desires and unconsciousness, then this will end with murders, automatically strengthening energy from the Upward Stream. With them comes disillusionment and the escape from unconsciousness, because death, even the death of a stranger, serves to remind us what all the earthly desires in this world rest upon. There is another side, too—if all people were suddenly made seekers, no one would have children or bake bread, and life on Earth, meaning the corresponding branches of Creation too, would end. Any imbalance that would threaten to cause the destruction of life is compensated for within the Streams, though sometimes the way this happens is very crude. Therefore, people working in the Upward Stream are needed to maintain this balance, but there cannot be too many of them, because it does not take much of the energy of awareness to keep this world going. It sounds and looks quite cynical, but I have written several times already about the fact that Truth is not like a girl everyone ought to like. There are facts, and they are these. Osho once said that if two hundred enlightened people were present on Earth at the same time, the whole world would change. You cannot argue with this, though this has never happened in all human history, and it looks like it never will. If only the end of the world does not take the form of universal enlightenment with all people simultaneously leaving their physical bodies. But this is also hard to believe; an interruption in the flow of energy from the Downward Stream would most likely lead to degeneration, that is all. Nature (and God) always chooses the most economical path.
People set out on their quest not because the idea of God the Father or God the Son somehow profoundly influences the mind of the seeker, although that might also be the case. The seeker is looking for a resolution to his discontent, and there is not enough water on this earth to slake the kind of thirst he has. Of course, you may increase your inner necessity, and this is written about repeatedly in the Sufi classics, but it is also possible to open it, if you suddenly recognize the simple fact that the drudgery of this world, in which you are constantly looking to find your place, but just cannot, is simply not for you. Real seekers always get to the essence of things and come to a personal realization, whatever it takes to do so. To those for whom this world is overcrowded, it costs almost nothing.
If the people of the Upward Stream have a need nothing can satisfy, which will sooner or later trickle over into a spiritual thirst, then in the Downward Stream, within the balance, there is hope, which is a way of holding people back, and enabling them to vibrate energy into the relevant channels. Hope is one of the principal factors that keeps people in the Downward Stream. Almost all seekers encounter manifestations of hope who hope to find something in the external world no matter what. Surveying his surroundings, the seeker feels there must be something wrong with him, given that everyone around him is pursuing something, and he alone does not know what he wants. And within there lives the hope that maybe you will succeed in learning the mystery of those people who know how to find the meaning of existence in this rather strange world, and to become one of them, to finally throw off that feeling of profound melancholy that envelopes you every day.
Hope is the irrational certainty that everything is going to be okay, and everything will somehow come together. It keeps people afloat at the most difficult moments in their lives, and it therefore cannot be spoken about in a purely negative sense. Moreover, hope has at its foundation the intuitive knowledge that everything—especially after death—will be okay. Death is also in some sense a return home. One of the first transcendental experiences that ever happened to me was the experience that all people who ever existed on Earth gain peace and grace, and complete contentment in this way, that no one is left wronged. So the irrationality of hope has its roots in the knowledge that we are all not from here, and there is a Force that protects us. At the same time, hoping for the better can sometimes be the main obstacle to a seeker, because it ties him to the world. “All is not lost,” hope whispers to him. “There are many pleasures and joys you have not tried and it is in them, of course, that you shall discover what you have long been looking for.” Hope becomes a deterrent on the Path and weakens the seeker. Some might hope that everything happens by itself and that not much effort is needed, some hope they manage to hold onto their own attachments and nothing will be sacrificed... Hope takes many different forms. The communists called religion the opium of the people—referring to the anesthetic properties of opium; hope is the common drug of all people.
By forgetting about hoping for something better, something easier and simpler, a person becomes capable of following the Path to the end. There is no other way.
There is one other motivating factor, which is often employed by those who are not lazy, and which also becomes an obstacle on the Path of the seeker. This motivating factor is love, and it sometimes affects the mind of the seeker far more seriously than hope. When you start to look at love, you see quite quickly how they only start talking about divine love when God has already been presented as a terrifying monster, punishing everyone—sometimes for something they have done, other times just because. What did Jesus speak against? He spoke against the Old Testament, which contained the commandment: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” “Love your enemy as yourself,” Jesus taught, and it is on this that the New Testament is essentially founded. Osho, who spoke even more about love than he did about meditation, came out against the strict tendencies of suppression promoted in the different religions; here, love serves as a defense for God, who has already become the source of a new, metaphysical horror, with His final judgement and surveillance of all people. Why do Sufis have so much to say about love? Could it be because the Quran is so full of motivational passages, and often comes back to the fear of Allah that every person should have? Love compensates for fear and for this reason in all religions where a lot is made of fear as a motivating influence, there are also mystics who provide a more positive motivating influence, in the form of love—the love of human beings for God, and the love of God for human beings. At the same time, it cannot be denied that the Creator should love His creation, although all the great geniuses seem to say the opposite; however you look at it, God must possess an identity in order for him to love us and to enter into a relationship with us. We have already explained that this is difficult for God, and so the stories about love are also a great simplification of what really exists in Reality. I have already written quite a lot about how this feeling is entangled with desire, and mainly sexual desire at that. I have written about how the essence of love is total acceptance of the person you love, and the fuller that acceptance is, the higher is the love, and that means, if we are going to be more precise, that we are actually talking not about divine love, but about divine acceptance. Acceptance of self, acceptance of God and His Creation—this is the secondary effect of working on the self and the result of progressing on the Path. Acceptance brings peace and the ability to exist in what is here and now, without the desire to constantly change and improve. Acceptance is passive, and is perceived poorly by people of the mind, who like action. But people like the feeling of love, because it allows them to enter into unusual states, which can be justified by the presence of a “higher” feeling—love. So everyone finds their own thing and gains this notion of the Ultimate via crude and not strictly accurate examples.
Acceptance is higher than love, but to the conditioned mind, wanting to be loved (in fact, to be accepted), it is quite hard to understand and to accept this. Therefore love makes its way from sermon to sermon, from book to book and remains a perfect motivating influence for followers, while wrong-footing seekers. The seeker may start looking for manifestations of this love, and there he may fall into a trap, seeing that there is no one to love him. Many hearts are broken through misplaced expectations. And yet it cannot be said that God is indifferent to us, given that “no one leaves here wronged”. But it is very difficult to call the feeling that reveals itself to mystics love. It is more complex and has nothing to do with that erotically charged kind of love. And yet, though cannot be expressed in words, it does exist. And just as loving is better than talking about love, experiencing the inexpressible is far better than trying to think about it, coming up with pretty pictures that in the end bear no relation to Reality.