blogs / philosophy

Panning for God: How To Find Truth In Rivers Of Mud


We’re loving our social media adventure. It gives us a platform on which to inspire and to be inspired. It pushes us to evaluate seemingly throwaway experiences in the context of spiritual growth on a daily basis. It connects us to like-minded souls and proves to us that there is a huge revolution of consciousness going on right now in the world that we live in.

One day, if we are successful in pursuing a simpler life for the purpose of spiritual realisation, this detailed documentation of our journey might be a useful artefact in illustrating just how we made it happen.

It’s overwhelming, and very difficult to both express and contain how excited, enthused and fortunate all this makes us feel.

Yesterday was the birthday of our spiritual teacher. Actually, “appearance day” is a more commonly used phrase & a more appropriate one too: seeing as the soul is neither born nor dies, what do we do apart from appear and disappear, travelling from on place to another in search of varying types of happiness?

Anyway, at least once a year we try to meditate deeply on the significance of having a bona fide spiritual teacher in our lives. We try to practice gratitude, deepen our understanding of what a guru really is and re-evaluate and examine the ways in which we can improve our relationship with him and to try and reciprocate with the fountainhead of love which he embodies.

One of the things which I’m feeling gratitude for today relates closely to the online extension of our new adventure. I’ve lost count of the number of inspiring Instagram posts, motivational Facebook statuses and self-styled media influencers there are vlogging their journey to success on YouTube. When we share this content we take on the role of self-appointed guru: with other people’s lives in our hands it’s not a job we should take lightly.

The short lifespan of a tweet, Instagram post or even a YouTube video, combined with the busy lives of the people who consume them, often prevents us from analysing this content too deeply, but when we hold it all up against the sparkling, meticulous philosophy of the Bible, Tao Te Ching, Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam to name but a few, not many of these motivational, uplifting quotes really feel like they are capable of revolutionising the consciousness of an entire planet.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t genuinely enlightened content creators out there in cyberspace. To dismiss them all would be rash, and would put us at risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater: as for everybody else, any spiritualist worth their salt will tell you that gold can be found in a dirty place and everything can be used to serve a higher purpose.

One of the great boons of coming into contact with a genuinely self-realised teacher is that you finally get a benchmark against which to measure everything.

Yes, my intuition is a wonderful thing, but how good am I at knowing when that inner voice is reality or illusion talking? How many times have I trusted it in the past and suffered as a result? Yes, this status update makes me feel great but how capable am I of judging its efficacy when I’m so lost that I need to read it in the first place?

Vedic culture evaluates truth using an infallible three-way check: guru, sadhu and sastra. In so doing it gives us an invaluable tool in a world awash with information springing forth from unknown sources.

Translated, it means this: the teachings of the guru (spiritual teacher), the words of his predecessors (sadhus) and the contents of sastra (scripture) must all line up. If one disagrees with the other two, alarm bells should ring.

Having a spiritual teacher to serve and learn from is a blessing not to be overlooked. It finishes off the holy triumvirate of guru, sadhu and sastra and helps us to cultivate the most important quality required to receive the necessary tools on our quest for truth, happiness and fulfilment. In the words of Saint Augustine: “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”
We’ve just started making a series of short videos called Spiritual LifeHacks – you can check out the playlist here – offering advice on the most important lessons in life. The first one is about what to look for in a spiritual teacher, and takes its inspiration from a variety of authorised scriptures from ancient India and beyond. The fact that it’s going live on such an auspicious day only increases the feeling of being on the right track: we hope it is an offering which doesn’t just satisfy guru and sadhu, but you as well.

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