I grew up in a Hippie generation for whom searching meant looking for something new and different. We developed eclectic tastes in music and the arts, finding something that was new to the social group was to be celebrated. In the midst of all this rejection of tradition that we associated with previous generations, we lost the reason for searching – spirituality. Searching for the new replaced the sacrosanct human spiritual search.
The point of searching is to find what is appropriate to each of us and get off the searching bus, go deeper and find our paths. Instead our intellectual ego appropriated the natural spiritual search, and there was a generation that got lost in eclecticism – the eclectic ego. In a sense many hippies became permanent searchers who lost the reason for searching – spirituality.
What these searchers did not do was get off the bus at their right stop – the tradition that most suited them – get off to study and go deep inside. Hippies claimed they went inside but in my view what many did was go inside a little and then go on an intellectual merry-go-round around an inner surface of their heads. For many hippies they would say this was OK, but the reality is that they remained in their intellects, never moved beyond their intellects – never got deep. It is in deep inner space where spirit is found.
I know this eclectic ego because it trapped me. Once I started on the path at 23 with my upheaval (see my path), I lapped up anything with a spiritual label. I was fortunate that my upheaval had started me on the path, but I never developed sufficient study and meditation to go deep. Instead this spiritual search became a form of intellectual stimulation as I described above. I will always love what the hippies brought to the world, the 50-year anniversary of Woodstock brought with it regrets that I was too immature to go, I will regret that I was too mainstream educationally that I didn’t stand up for Vietnam, but with the upheaval I was able to latch onto all the discoveries the Hippies had made available.
But it was not until I went to Africa in mid-life and time slowed down that I began to reflect on my life, and began to turn deeply inwards. I always had my writing that took me deep inside sporadically but it wasn’t until I went deep with the Buddhism that I truly learnt the meaning of spiritual search. I quickly got rid of the eclectic ego.
At that point I made a choice of only one Buddhism, the Buddhism of the UK monastery, and whilst at Wat Phra Keau a famous Thai monastery I decided to be Buddhist. I chose Theravada Forest Sangha Buddhism whilst occasionally looking at other Buddhisms but once I looked at Theravada I found there were proliferations within Theravada. Writing about something is not necessarily going deeper, it is simply describing UNLESS the purpose of the writing is to go deep. Proliferations can live on the surface, they can be dogma chasing dogma, discussions chasing discussions. With the best will in the world online forums can become discussions that go round in circles playing a game of sutta snap instead of getting back to spiritual source - the Dhamma. It is easily done for those who write rattling off a blog is joy and happens in no time at all. Lost in cyberspace are inordinate writings all of which will contain some spiritual truth yet dissipated because of all the proliferations. It is such a waste. Personally since I have retired I have been blogging most days, there are the books on zandtao, none of which are read. It is a spiritual compunction but such an excess. How many other people on their paths are doing the same? And how many intellectuals not on the path but with positions in academia are writing even more proliferations that don’t have purpose other than financial reward for being academic? I have an internet friend who sort of ignores what I write because it is proliferation. He sees and talks spirit, that is enough for him. He recognises spirit but is not interested in my proliferations. I can respect that.
But what do you do? You see eclecticism, you see intellectual proliferation, and you want to just open eyes. My friend says it succinctly, I try to explain. You never know how it works so you do what you can. There is so much more than the Treatise and the Manual, yet is more better?
So to finish discussing Buddhism’s proliferations I swept aside much of Theravada and landed on Ajaan Buddhadasa – and yet only some of him. I have not read all that he has written. But that is not the purpose, the purpose is to go deep – not to read all that a teacher writes. One of Venerable Buddhadasa’s insights will inspire an inner journey, that is the purpose. That inner experience is what is required, not knowledge of all his books, not knowledge of all Theravada books, all Buddhist books, all the eclecticism. Find the inner experience that is beyond the intellectual, beyond the eclectic, find the genuine spiritual path.
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