Monday, May 26, 2003
Some folk make it their hobby to collect spiritual "experiences". They go from satsang to satsang, intent on absorbing whichever master's 'transmission' they are visiting. If they are sufficently dazzled by the show, they will leave happy and believing that something was transferred. That's what keeps them coming back, their belief that they are getting 'something' by way of magical transmission.
It's fairly common for satsangis to have various kinds of experiences in the presence of someone they believe to be a master. Just attend any big-time guru's satsang to see this in action. Of those people who come in the hopes of getting an experience, most usually leave happy. Never mind that they created their own experience, with the guru being a proxy for God but with their imagination doing the actual work behind their backs. Because these experiences provide comfort in the form of a belief in one's own spiritual advancement and one's specialness for being blessed by the guru, they become collectables for the satsang junkie.
But whether from truly on high or as a self-suggested fantasy, almost any advaitic sage would advise the student to ignore these experiences if and when they occur. Despite their sometime seemingly cosmic proportions, these experiences are only that much more Maya, and no different than any other experience or phenomena. They are impermanent, so therefore meaningless in any ultimate sense, despite how ultimate they may have made one feel.
This isn't to say that there isn't valuable information to be gleaned from such experiences, nor to say that these experiences are not indicative of something happening in the way of personal transformation. But forming an attachment to these experiences is a kind of spiritual morbidity. These ideas of power and knowledge can easily form the basis of an insidious new identity, one that is protected by the idea that it isn't there to begin with, and one that becomes very difficult to get rid of once it has set in.