Babaji Bob Kindler answers questions from students
About that nondual teaching that Vedanta proposes first and foremost, mainly ‘God is real, the world is unreal’ — if one understands that properly, what does it do to one’s actions and responsibilities in the world? How can one function?
Vedanta states emphatically that “Brahman is real and the world is unreal” — Brahman Satya, Jagad Mithya. Though an enigmatic statement, and one that gives both room for pause and reason for reaction, this affirmation is a sort of mental mantra for the soul struggling in the world. With it in mind we can work with detachment, as you are finding out, and still keep our compassion intact — even develop a more mature and practical compassion. Then, helping the unreal (transitory) world and its living beings becomes both easier and a means for individual purification of mind so that one can both move beyond the need to embody out of ignorance/desire, and experience the bliss and presence of Brahman while embodied.
In short, one does not have to beat oneself up mentally because one has lost interest in the daily dramas and little superficialities of this world. That is a natural occurrence that has happened to many a maturing soul. If one finds out the ephemeral and ultimately unstable nature of life, worlds, and mind, one can then effectively go about lifting these curtains of subtle delusion from the minds of others. Helping beings with suffering on all levels is a part (not the entirety) of that higher process, and as long as that is kept in mind — along with that mental mantra of Brahman Satya, Jagad Mithya — then all will proceed as it should, for the highest good of all involved. All concerns are then placed in proper relation to Ultimate Reality, instead of improper relationships with relativity.
In a recent excursion into the realm of Yoga in the West, while attempting to find resources and locations where it is taught, practiced, and written up, I was horrified to come up very short, finding that everyone — teachers, students, and spiritual centers — are all preoccupied only with asanas, yogic postures. Sometimes I found a little breathing exercise being done, and a tiny modicum of time at the end of each session was occasionally given to what they called ‘meditation’ (which was nothing but a sort of free-form, free-for-all shorn of any true guidance or depth) but nothing akin to spirituality and its true aims. Am I wrong or mistaken in assuming or thinking that there is more to Yoga than this?
You are neither wrong nor mistaken, but rather made aware and alerted to the puerile and painful predicament that the revered term, practice, and philosophy called “Yoga” faces in this day and time. And it is only predictable that if you bring to a body-oriented culture like America a system that has as a part of its content some body strengthening and purifying exercises, they will seize on just that aspect and make of it the whole, forgetting the rest; just like if you try to transplant an originally honorable system like Tantra in the West, the sensualists-masquerading- as-aspirants-and-instructors of that culture will select from its many helpful practices the only two that fit their fancy and titillate their desire — mainly, sexual intercourse and the imbibing of intoxicants — and make them their emphasis. And it is not just power and pleasure that is vainly sought in the name of spirituality, it is wealth. As Swami Vivekananda remarked when he came to the West:
It will take a long time for the Westerners to understand higher spirituality. Everything is money to them. If a religion brings them money or health or beauty or long life, they will all flock to it, otherwise not. This is a thoroughly materialistic country. The people of this Christian land will recognize religion if only you can cure diseases, work miracles, and open up avenues to money, and understand little of anything else. To the people of the West, ministering to the body is a great thing: they would trim and polish and give their whole attention to that. A thousand instruments for paring nails, ten thousand for hair-cutting, and who can count the varieties of dress and toilet and perfumery. They are a good-natured people, kind and truthful. All is right with them but that enjoyment is their God. It is a country where money flows like rivers, with beauty as its ripple, and learning its waves, and which rolls in luxury....