All classical nondual traditions that arose in Central Asia such as Śaivism, Vajrāyana, Dzogchen, Dao, emphasize certain aspects of the tradition as “objects of refuge” or essential aspects of the tradition one must immerse in, and commit to, if one is to truly become realized and finally liberated.
Taking refuge in these aspects of any such established, verified and well sustained tradition is like accessing the high voltage line of spiritual current passed down generation to generation, guru to disciple. This is the true wealth of any lineage and tradition, the field of shaktipat.
Instead of taking refuge in the proven sublime Path as set down by the ancients, modern seekers attempt to fabricate a path of their own. They go to workshops, lectures, retreats, read books, attend online trainings, take psychoactive substances all in an attempt to construct “their path”, ‘their voice”, “their expression”.
The desire to go it alone comes from many causes. Let’s explore a few of them in an attempt to help you discover if any of these incorrect views regarding the path are still holding back your progress.
1. Ignorance of the Path and its fruit.
Most of us are propelled on our spiritual quest without having made contact with an established nondual Dharma tradition. The critical external components that are necessary for attaining highest realization remain unkown. The process, its effects, its aftermath, its goal and fruition and how to recognize it, and strategies to follow when one encounters pitfalls, all of this remains unkown to such an aspirant.It is also rare that such a seeker has the correct view or the knowledge of the Fruit of the Path. For without correct knowledge of the Fruit how can a practitioner know that they need a Path.
So one problem is not knowing the View and therefore the Fruit and the necessity of the Path to reach the fruit. In the beginning, most of us stumble along until we figure this out, and then we set about to find the Path with which we have a karmic connection. And that’s ok, in fact it can be quite a normal and part of the process and will not cause much of a problem, as long as we make it to a real Path sooner rather than later.
2. Eclectic Collecting of Spiritual Techniques in guise of the Path.
Here is where many get stuck. Today it’s so easy to pick up techniques, ideas, teachings, etc. without ever having to commit to a Path or to the teacher of that Path. People fool themselves into thinking that a Path is merely a collection of spiritual methods or techniques.
Quite often the eclectic pursuit of techniques in the guise of an actual Path is an innocent error, but this mode can also arise from strong pridefully egoic causes. Some spiritual aspirants feel they are too special or too smart (smarter than the teacher) to follow a Path. They feel it will restrict them, control them and slow them down. Also their pride will not let them recognize that they are karmically linked to another human being and that the person is essential to their process coming to full fruition.
A fair percentage of such people are already teachers, giving workshops, writing books, and guiding people in their spiritual process… never having followed the Path from A to Z under the guidance of a guru, lama or daoshi. Typically they teach their own ad hoc collection of spiritual techniques they learned along the way and/or made up themselves, resting on a grand spiritual experience they had, which has still not matured and integrated into full absorption.
3. Fear and Suspicion of the Path.
Then there is a whole collection of people that feel that following a traditional Path actually damaged them, and are fearful and suspicious of the Path and teachers going forward. It is unfortunate to throw out an essential component of the spiritual journey because of a bad experience with a path or a teacher. This is not to be insensitive to the pain of people who were hurt in non-consensual activities with “teachers”. But at some point in the healing process if the aspirant is to reach the Fruit of the View, then they will have to again find a Path and a teacher of that Path. They’ll have to start again using their previous experiences as essential learning. They must persevere in the search for their True Nature and not be blown off course by a never-ending search for personal security.
4. The Cup is Full.
It is impossible to successfully jump into a Path without going through the foundational training of that Path. People often want to start with some intermediate or advanced practices. We must empty our cup before we come to any new Path or teacher. Many of the siddhas and lamas tested thier students for years by telling them they are ready and enlightened, and that they can go and teach instead of taking discipleship. Most took the bait and went on to write books and become teachers. Those who remained were actually given the true path and empowerment transmissions.
5. Community as Path.
One of the main obstacles is people being confused into thinking that a type of quasi-path and lifestyle that has no name is a real Path to liberation. People are gathering into communities to experience the strength and beauty of a spiritually intent community, without a well-defined Path and teacher or lineage. The drumming circles, kirtan, to take frog medicine, ayahuasca or cacao, to trance dance, etc.
There’s nothing wrong with these activities and forming a community around them is beautiful, but lets not mistake them for a Path to liberation.There is also the notion that the community of practitioners of a nondual Dharma tradition are the actual guru and that a physical human fully liberated teacher is no longer required, that the community is the guru and the path. Many people are now following this as a way to avoid the difficulties one has to work through in a real commitment to a Path and a teacher.
To take refuge in the Path is a tremendous aid in quelling the imprints and fluctuations of the mind. Having commitment to the Path removes fear and doubt, organizes and focuses our energy, and hastens liberation.