I’m a spiritual person, but that spirituality gets expressed in ways that aren’t that common. I don’t do meditation. I don’t actively seek out clairvoyance. I’ve stopped using tarot cards and the I-ching. This post is about what I do consider my spiritual path.
The title does say it all I guess: I ponder. My spiritual ‘work’ considers of managing to sit still every once in a while. I do wonder whether the popularity of meditation in our culture doesn’t have something to do with the fact that for busy people it is enormously healthy to force yourself to sit still. If calling that meditation helps people to sit still more, I’m all for it 🙂
That’s an aside. I don’t do formal meditation. I don’t do visualization. I don’t have a spiritual teacher who guides my ponderings. I just ponder. I just think. I just sit still and consider all (hence the title of this blog).
This is not as unusual as it may seem to some. Pondering, thinking, deeply considering things is actually a time honored spiritual path. In India it is called jnana yoga. The path of thought. In Europe it is called theosophy. Theosophists consider the universe and the place of people in it. They think about the relationship between God and Creation (if they believe in using those words). Sufi’s that have cosmologies are also called ‘theosophical’ by scientists of religion.
Thinking has a bad name in some spiritual circles. We are told we have to stay in touch with our emotions (I fully agree by the way). That our culture is too focused on the mental (I agree with that as well).
True – but that doesn’t mean the mind should be neglected either. Thinking logically is a virtue. Thinking about the context of beliefs is too. Considering all consequences of actions, thoughts and words is certainly an important part of wisdom.
Is pondering all there is to my spiritual path – well no. That would be one-sided. I do try and live my life well: I take care of myself through a vegetarian, no-alcohol diet. I try and keep my actions, thoughts and words clean, balanced and truthful. I will probably write about some of that in a future post.
5 thoughts on “My spiritual path: pondering (or jnana yoga)”
You’re right in that thinking can be a virtue. It can certainly be a useful tool to help us do math problems and design buildings.
Is it a tool that can discover ultimate truth, however?
You ask the age-old question. Alright, I’ll bite.
Here’s a few considerations:
The ultimate truth? I don’t really know what that means to be honest 🙂
Pondering and thinking – are they the same thing?
I don’t know about other people, I just know that pondering is essential for my life. I know that there are limitations to the truths the mind can come up with – but since pondering includes openness to higher levels of truth – call it intuition, or buddhi, or the ‘still small voice’ – the limitations of words don’t limit my path, I don’t think.
I do think however that before one can go beyond words, beyond concepts – one has to really truly realize their limitations. For many people, that’s just not where they are.
And yes: this makes me part of the ‘gradual path‘ tradition of spirituality.
Sooo you fully agree with those who say “we have to stay in touch with our emotions”?
Well I’m sorry but we Buddhists must accept “the four seals of dharma”! hehe
All compounded things are impermanent.
All emotions are pain.
All things have no inherent existence. [are empty / selfless]
Nirvana is beyond concepts.
If you cannot eccept that all emotions are pain, if you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist. -Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, What makes you not a Buddhist.
By the way great job, thanks for sharing your knowledge 🙂
Good one – that’s perhaps the basis for a future post. For now: only when you know what your feelings ARE can you truly transcend them and see them as basically pain. It’s one of those paradoxes where every extreme is ignorance.
It is easy to forget that the highest achievement of reasoning is not truth, nor wisdom; it is consistency. For best results, we must gather data from outside the sphere of mundane existence–experience which cannot be expressed in words or otherwise reduced to symbols–and establish coherence and consistency with that.
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