Chapter 12

The Steps

The greatest work that you can do in this life is to practice devotional awareness.
Awareness can come in two forms, devotional or non-devotional.
Non-devotional awareness is simple meditation.
Meditation of this sort can be quite difficult, it is a path of struggle.
Practicing meditation, you will take many steps forward and many steps back.
For some, this is the only way.
Simply keeping focus, continue to practice despite any setbacks.
Remain confident even when it seems you are not making any progress, and don't put any expectations into your practice.

But for many, there is an easier way.
Devotional meditation can be a quick way, with less pitfalls.
Focus on the divine, in an aspect or as a whole.
Or focus on the guru, and dedicate your meditation to him.
In this way, you will find more confidence in what you are doing.
But this system too has its pitfalls.
First, one can mistake worship for meditation.
It is not enough to simply adore the guru or God.
If you are not practicing, and you do not take responsibility for your practice, it will lead to nowhere.
There are some who cannot make this distinction, and there are others who cannot yet open themselves to devotional practice.
Usually, if you have a master it is easy to feel devotion for him, to become aware that he is always there when you are in meditation.
But some will try to practice without a master, and others will not be able to feel this connection at first.

If you can feel devotion but cannot be meditative at the same time, this can create problems.
Do not mistake worship for meditation.
If you cannot begin with devotional meditation, instead you should begin with devotional work.
Dedicate what you are doing to the divine; know that when you are working, when you are doing your job, or studying, or learning, or helping others, if you are a student of mysticism then you are also practicing devotion to the divine, and your work will help the world.
All it takes is for you to be aware as you are doing this.

But for some, this is also too difficult.
It is hard, to concentrate at all times on the work you are doing as sacred work.
It is difficult to practice devotion, but also it is even difficult to remember devotion.
For those people, for whom it is not possible to even do this, the answer is only in the 'yoga of refuge'.
If you cannot devote your work to the divine, do your work while devoting the result of your work to the divine.
Go about your work as you will, but be certain that whatever you make of it, you are offering as your gift to God, to life, to the guru.
You will find that over time even if you cannot begin by practicing awareness in your work, dedicating the product of your work to the divine will allow you to take 'refuge' in awareness, and you will find your awareness.
In time this would allow you to grow into being aware in what you do. So if you cannot start as aware in what you are doing, at least start by offering up the results of what you are doing as a sacrifice to God.
It is not yours, it is his.

There are many levels to meditation.
At the beginning, formal practice may be the most useful, the only thing you can do.
Performing set ritual of meditation or prayer in certain ways, at certain times, and for certain durations.
But the next step, higher than this, is to simply practice being aware.
Being able to watch your actions, to witness.
Better still is the next step, true meditation, where you can understand that your actions are not your own.
And the best is when you can practice true detachment.
Knowing that who you are and what you do is not due to you, but to the product of life's flow, you can let go of being attached to the results of who you are or what you do.
You can understand that these things are all dependent on God, and belong to God.
They are his to give or take.
This is the road to peace.


Know you are going to die.
Choose how you will stand when you do.

Humility or Awareness

There is a misunderstanding of what it means to be human.
Foolish seekers have often thought that to be surrendered to the divine is to be humble.
Humility, as they understand it is to make yourself small, to put yourself down in the idea that this makes room for the divine.
It does not.
There is no room if your fill yourself with 'small self' anymore than with 'large self'; they are the same size, only with different labels.

People who try to escape their ego by claiming they are stupid, by admitting their self-interest, by crying and shedding false tears of humility, gratefulness, or anguish at their own 'stuckness' are in reality doing nothing to aid their progress.
This is in fact a trap that you can become stuck in.
It is a never-ending spiral of self-abasement without ever finding a center outside the self.

So how do you become a true human being?
Do not be desiring what you are not or do not have.
Be giving.
Do not worry about holding on to what you have or what you are.
Do not get swept away in feelings of happiness or sorrow, just let them be.

Do not let your past trap you.
Too often, the great barrier to becoming really human is that you are stuck with all the hurts, wants or concerns over what you were.
Let it go.

Do not be concerned about what other practitioners will think of you.
Do not seek any praise from your Master, either for your self-proclaimed humility, or awareness.
Do not claim to be a poor student or a good one.
This is not your concern.

Do not be concerned about being silent or speaking.
Accept what comes.

Do not get attached to the idea that your spiritual work must go a certain way, or that the Master must act a certain way toward you.

If you can be like this, and practice simply, and be solid in yourself, you will have found your humanity and achieve love with the guru and God.