Hi Typist- you went away for a while then came back with a flurry!
You're definitely an interesting thinker - despite your interest in spirituality it doesn't stop you from following any teacher blindly! I agree with much of what you say although as ever I have a few comments:
Typist wrote:The only teachers who gain a mass audience will be those who serve the real agenda of the audience, the enlargement of their egos.
I think we need to be careful not to fall into the 'ego = bad, non-ego = good' trap. The good spiritual teacher does not seek to outright deny the ego, what they seek to deny is that the egoic mode is the only way of being. Alongside the truth of the ego, there is also a the truth of non-ego. This latter argument is largely ignored by most people. So the spiritual teacher finds themselves having to strongly emphasise arguments against the ego, even though these arguments are only the equal and opposite counterparts to the egoic argument.
In truth we are neither ego nor non-ego. Or, to put it another way, we transcend both views and contain them both. This is why the teacher will find themselves having to talk endlessly about non-ego (as this is the neglected argument that people are generally unaware of), only then to say that all their non-ego teachings are actually not the truth either - or no more true than our native egoism.
The ego is not a base thing that we should reject, and supplant with egolessness. What we need to reject is the belief that our ego is all
that we are. Every spiritual genius is fully aware of their individual identity - where they were born, who their parents were etc. But they also know that this is just one side of them, and this awareness of the other side allows them to remain detached from the ego, which, when taken alone, is the source of so much suffering.
The student might find themselves in the orbit of this teacher. Until the teacher has worked his magic, the student has nothing other than their egoic sense of things. But the fact that they are there, and listening is enough for the time being.
In my last post I said that the authentic spiritual teacher must urge the rejection of their teachings. I would also say that the good spiritual teacher has to remain detached from the spiritual welfare of their student. Many students will seek aggrandisement in the name of spirituality. But this is OK! There is nothing bad about egoism - it is a perfectly legitimate mode of being. But it just so happens that the teacher's role in life is about teaching something extra. Those who have ears to hear will hear; as for the rest - well their deafness is fine too. This is faith. Yes they might suffer, but as Jesus said: 'such people will have their reward in full.'
Typist wrote:The Problem
Human life is built upon thought. Thought is inherently divisive. Thus, it's the human condition to be trapped within a worldview that divides reality in to "me" and "everything else". The pain we are hoping to somehow escape arises from this illusion.
I think we've discussed this before, but I'll say it again anyway. To describe thought as divisive, as a problem, is a very powerful teaching and many teachers in history have used it - but ultimately it is only half the story. Thought is also perfect and entire in itself and can only be called divisive if we take it as occurring within a subject that is interpreting a reality 'out there'. In other words, thought is only divisive to the ego-bound mind. To the non egoic mind a thought is perfect and entire in itself, and arises and passes in the same manner as anything else in awareness.
To argue against thought and divisive nature can be very therapeutic to those who are trapped in their own harmful opinions. But this is only a provisional teaching, that, unless rejected, will serve to keep people trapped in their view as individuals in a world that is actually able to be divided up.
When thought is understood properly we are able to indulge in it however we wish, because through understanding we become immune to its deleterious nature. A thought is quite toothless and harmless really, and it is only when we take it seriously that it has power to upset us.
Typist wrote:Now the spiritual traveler is depressed. "How can I make progress then??", they whine.
You can't make progress.
You are the opposite of progress.
Something far bigger than you will swallow you up soon enough. You have no say in the matter. It's not about you.
Until then, all you can do is pass the time by playing games.
If the spiritual journey game is your favorite game, then go for it, and seek those popular well known teachers with lots of credibility, who will help you play it.
Now this is cynical! I can see why you say this though because for many people the spiritual industry just seems to cause more dissatisfaction and suffering. And if this was the only outcome I would accept your analysis, but you forget just what positives the spiritual search can bring.
The fruits of the spiritual search are not only realised after death, but here and now in this lifetime. A sincere and dedicated search can bring you all the joys and satisfactions that we can possibly imagine. All those people who are out trying to find money, love, luxury and fame only do so because they think it will make you feel great. Well I tell you, I have a pretty ordinary life by western standards and yet I cannot imagine how anyone could be happier than I am. You could offer me a million pounds and it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to the joy in life. The spiritual life, or the life of philosophy that we are discussing in this thread is real and available - for those who are engaging with the issues, all it takes is time.
Best wishes, Nikolai