On The Intensity For The Truth
“Kabir says this: When the guest is being searched for, it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that does all the work. Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.”
If you are on the path, you may have figured out by now that your desire for the truth, and the longing in your heart for the Absolute, is far more affective than any method or spiritual practice. This is because intensity is a method in itself. And unlike the spread of secular mindfulness that atheists like to preach about, it is not worried about the benefits that come to the individual as a result of following your breath or “watching your thoughts.” On the contrary, it is more interested in seeing through the falsity of the individual altogether. So, it does not lend itself to the trend of spirituality and meditation that people like Sam Harris are trying to promote. That type of “spirituality” is infantile compared to what I am speaking of here. But I am unsure of what to call it, because it has no direction and lends itself to no tradition. It also comes from a place that is slightly unreasonable and unrational.
Dare I say it is otherworldly.
More than wanting to set a foundation of good health; more than wanting to be happy; more than wanting to set your life in order—you must want the truth. But if you are suspicious of that word—if you categorize it or philosophize about it, I am afraid you have missed the point altogether. For I am not interested in types of truth, and I could care less about a treatise about what truth could be. I am interested in what truth is, and, as far as I’m concerned, it cannot be summed up in a paper or understood by means of a well-formulated argument. It must be lived and felt in one’s bones. For if it does not permeate the whole of the human being, it is not devastating enough.
The truth I am pointing to here is the truth of Being, which is different to, say, the truth of psychology, philosophy, and science. But this is where I run into a bit of a problem, because it is extremely difficult to define what Being actually is. The most that can be said about it is that it is what is.
But when you attempt to define what is, you run the risk of running away from it. The menu is not the food. Nonetheless, it is worth a try: the truth of Being is the non-conceptual ground of reality that cannot be known by anything other than itself. To my mind, it is a truth that all great religions have tried so desperately to point toward. But it has been misunderstood and institutionalized for reasons I will not go into here. If this still makes absolutely no sense, an example might help:
When you hear the words, “From the dust we came, and to the dust we shall return,” you don’t exactly philosophize about that, do you? You don’t sit back and try to solve that problem with your mind, because thought can only dig so far. It is a brutal fact of existence—a truth of Being— that requires much more than a well-refined process of analysis and thought. If you attempt to face it with the rational mind, the chances of you reaching a reliable conclusion about what to do are profoundly low. And the chances of you still being afraid of death are extremely high. Sooner or later, you are going to have to admit that the mind, for all its usefulness, is the wrong tool to understand the truth of Being. You are going to need something else.
When it comes to the truth of Being, there are 3 things that facilitate the unravelling of its ground: intensity, love, sincerity, and wisdom.
Let us begin with intensity.
And I’d like to start this off by reminding you of a beautiful fact: the desire to know the truth of life comes from the source of life itself, so its nature is impersonal. And when it gets going, there is no stopping it.
At that stage in spiritual awakening, when we are all of a sudden hungry for a light we cannot see, we come to realize that the truth goes deeper than wanting to learn about something. If you want to do that, there are many workshops and educational institutions in the world that can help you. But if you want the truth, you have to be willing to give up the world, or plunge so fully into it, that you go right through.
The analogy I like to use when thinking of this stage is that of a lion, prowling in the woods alone. While his trek is unstoppable and determined, he doesn’t quite know what he is searching for. But he continues to prowl nonetheless, because his intuition is telling him to, even though there are many voices around him telling him to stop. Unlike the birds in Aldous Huxley’s novel, Island, who remind the citizens to “Be Here Now,” the birds in this forest are telling the lion that he is too young, too inexperienced, too confident, too lost. But he is adamant and uncompromising about the existence of something undeniable. And good luck stopping him. Yes, he might make some mistakes on the way, but he is willing to refine his roar. His determination is coupled with sincerity and his heart beats for the whole of humanity. He is a slave to the intensity.
If you aren’t that intense you’ll be, as Kabir said, arranging your pillows, or procrastinating with ideas of how you might get there someday. Or you might claim that it is not possible at all. That is another way of procrastinating.
But—and here is the important part—true intensity does not like to wait around for very long, and it certainly doesn’t take no for an answer. Have you noticed that? If you are really passionate about something, every moment will be dedicated to it. Every single moment. Anything less is a distraction. That doesn’t mean you should be impatient with the unfolding of truth; it just means that your love for truth should express itself in such a way that it could be seen as impatient, because your love for it runs so deep. To me, that is what Bhakti yoga is all about. And you can’t teach it. You can’t teach people to have an intense love for truth. It has nothing to do with yoga postures and no method or technique can replace it.
It is its own technique. It is otherworldly.