Dear Francis I found your videos recently and felt a strong emotional connection with a lot of what you say. It was a relief because I had just left an organisation which teaches Advaita after having been a member for about thirty years. I left in the summer, after a few years of discomfort. I think it was mainly because I felt that the teachings were being rammed into us in a dogmatic way. I had also suddenly had the clear understanding that after thirty years in the school, and all the teachings and practices, I really did not know anything. I had had an earlier understanding that the ego is unreal, but even that doesn’t seem relevant now. I now feel that I can’t do any kind of practice because it just doesn’t seem right. When I hear you speaking I feel peace. I initially felt relief and gratitude, which seemed to confirm that my leaving the School was right for me. But seeing more of the videos, there is a lot I just don’t understand in an emotional way, like the consciousness being universal. I can understand it with reason, from what you say, but I don’t really understand it in my heart. I felt strongly with the video on the Gateless Gate and what followed, that this seemed to be where I am. I feel I understand in my heart that I can’t go any further with ideas, concepts, wishes, hopes and trying. This is fine when I’m watching the videos or not under pressure. However, in my everyday life don’t seem to sit much in the hot seat. I am a science teacher in a boys secondary school, and find it difficult to cope with the challenging classes. One particular class is especially difficult - there are a lot of boys, who don’t seem to be interested in learning but who appear to me to want to cause me pain and trouble! From starting to teach them in the beginning of the year, I have once connected with the boys and felt closeness and affection, but most of the time, I feel fear and even hatred for them, and I am struggling to control. It’s all a bit confusing because there is obviously some love of truth in me, but in my actions I don’t hold to this. Can you say anything to help? With gratitude and love for what I have received already.
As we progress on the spiritual path, we may realize that we have outgrown teachings that used to be dear and useful to us in the beginning of the journey. They seem now to be flat and devoid of fragrance. Or they seem to be limiting and dogmatic, although they were exactly what we needed at the time when we first chose to follow them. When this happens, we have to remember that our highest allegiance is to the truth, not to a teacher or to an organization. We must always get the teachings from the best source available to us, following in this both our intelligence and our heart. Spiritual teachers are not jealous wives or husbands - or at least they shouldn’t be.
The reason why you don’t understand in an emotional way that consciousness is universal is because your emotions are in the way of this experience. You have trained yourself to feel the body and to perceive the world in a way that was consistent with the belief systems you had about them: I am a separate individual body mind lost in a foreign and potentially hostile world. Through the use of your higher reason, you are now open to the possibility that consciousness is not personal but universal, which enables you to conduct experiments at the level of the body and of the world to check out this new possibility. Feel your body, as often as possible, in a way that is consistent with this new perspective. Feel it to be transparent, all expanded, all including, all embracing, weightless, all penetrating. Similarly, give others a chance not to be hostile strangers. Feel that they are the very same consciousness you are as your interact with them, with your students for example. Remember the young boy you were, the stupid and sometimes cruel things you did, all part of the learning process that has turned you into the beautiful truth seeker you are now. Your students are your yoga exercises to be mastered. Be eager to meet them in the morning before class begins. Look forward to having the opportunity to change yourself, and, in doing so, to change others for the best. Unless you master this yoga exercise, it will keep resurfacing in your life under various disguises. Apply the pieces of advice I just gave you. Fear nothing, especially not the kids. If you fear them, they will abuse you, and rightfully so, it is the way life teaches us not to be afraid. If they fear you, class will be war, you won’t enjoy it, nor will they. Understanding and love are the keys.