A question from Miami about genuine spirituality: «Genuine and fake spirituality – what is the difference?»
OLGA LOZINSKAYA: Currently it is very popular to be a spiritual person, it is in trend. And a lot of people are trying to create an image of themselves as spiritual people. This is a really scary phenomenon, because it is hard to tell where the line is and how to distinguish someone truly spiritual from people in whom it is fake, artificial and made up.
RAMI: There are detailed answers to that question in my books. Firstly (more importantly), in The Journeys In Search Of The Meaning of Life, which is in two parts, and then also in Three Energies.
Shortly, what is true spirituality? People can now interpret it however they want. In the same way that you say ‘apple’ and everyone imagines a completely different apple. When you say religion, it means different things to different people. It is the same with spirituality. About 20 years ago, I came to a conclusion that one absolutely has to be spiritual in order to be mentally stable. According to Eastern medicine, you cannot be psychologically happy without genuine spiritual development.
Psychology is by and large a study of the soul. During those 20 years I have encountered a lot of people who had no idea what spirituality is. Everyone has a completely different opinion. For some people it means going to church on Sundays and for others it can be theatre, or giving to the poor, or praying.
In principle, there is nothing bad about that, and it can potentially have connection to spirituality. But if we are trying to talk about true spirituality and how to achieve it, then shouldn’t we start by establishing what a soul is? And who we truly are? It is very important to understand that we already are the soul that is only temporarily expressed in this particular material body.
We have all already been into this world in many different forms and our objective is to learn to love unconditionally and to live here and now. Time does not exist for the soul. Time and space are material categories.
You have to have plans for the future, consider the past, but live in the now. That is spirituality- soul living by love, living only in the present moment, right here and now. The feeling of unconditional love can only be experienced there.
True spirituality begins with a person becoming selfless, serving others and caring for others. If a person is focused on themselves, they cannot love or be truly spiritual.
There are plenty of selfish people who go to church, or temples, or mosques. It purifies you a little, feels better than going to a club, but it still isn’t true spirituality. It is not the main criteria.
The first criteria is how much our heart is polluted with envy, desire, anger, greed, pain. When the heart is pure, we can live in Unconditional Love, but the way to that is through selfless serving. That is why a truly spiritual person serves others without expecting anything in return. They are grateful to God simply for the opportunity to serve. They can go to work and earn a lot of money, but do it as a service to the world by trying to be wholesome in what they do.
Another ancient wisdom that is very applicable to our times is the three paths of liberation: Jñāna yoga, karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga. Jnana yoga is the path of wisdom (or the path of self-realisation). Wisdom is not in how many books one read, even though it is good to read, especially the books of the wise, the sacred texts. But that does not always make a person wise. Wisdom is the understanding of the meaning of life – Unconditional Love, presence in the now, and non-attachment. A wise person does not have attachments or dependencies on this world. They understand that they are the soul and that is what being a spiritual person means.
Once we have no attachments, we have no fear. We understand the impermanence of everything. That boosts creativity, fills us with energy. If we start living in the present and are not attached to anything, we get a lot of spiritual energy. We become once again connected to the source of life. And if you think about it, that state is where all greatest masterpieces were created, when people were just working, without thinking about being praised for it, doing it much more as an act of non-attachment.
Those are the 2 wings: selfless serving (karma-yoga) and jnana-yoga (path of wisdom). We understand that everything is temporary and there is no need to be attached to the house we are in. We can buy the best possible house, but sooner or later it will break or we will sell it. Anyhow, at the time of death we will have to leave it. But when we become attached we create a life full of suffering.
If we serve selflessly and understand the temporary nature of things, then the greatest gift in the world is given to us – the ability to love unconditionally. That is what all of us are searching for in this world, knowingly or unknowingly, even though there is not much actually here. What we need is Unconditional Love and that is a state, which a lot of people try to achieve without even understanding the importance of it. True spirituality starts and ends with Unconditional Love.
If you look at the Christian commandments – Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. In Judaism – And You Shall Love the Lord Our God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. In Sufism – The main Goal is to be a loving presence.
So what we need to understand is that the meaning of life is true spirituality. True spirituality is Love.
OLGA LOZINSKAYA: I have always imagined Unconditional Love as this highest level of vibrations, like an umbrella. And when you reach that level, nothing scares you anymore, you are just rewiring your subconscious and it now catches that vibration of Unconditional Love. And everything that’s below it, all these negative formations, can be fixed in one go. That’s how I feel about it – the giant umbrella of Unconditional Love and if you are on that level nothing is scary anymore. As I understand, that is the right path. Unconditional Love is the true spirituality. True spirituality as its substance has Unconditional Love.
Another little sub-question: when you say “when you know your goal…” Do you mean one’s mission, like purpose?
RAMI: No, this is a little bit different. But I want to first address what you said in the beginning – about Love being a positive, the top of the umbrella, and the negative being below. Divine Love is transcendent and above any duality, positive and negative. Sometimes to experience Divine Love we have to be on the negative level. And Divine Love is above all this, it is actually a state which is surprisingly easy to experience.
Just start serving selflessly. Just help people – you see an old lady, clean her driveway or garden. The important thing is to not tell anyone about it, to not get attached. Just serve selflessly and that feeling will come to you. When there is a lot of mental noise we start thinking too much – oh, I should be trying to get on a higher level of vibrations..No, just serve and be wise – develop non-attachment to this world.
Now about purpose. There is a lot on that in my books and courses. The thing is we all have one purpose – to learn to love unconditionally and live in the present. But we do also have a social purpose, which is, as I understand, what you meant in your question. Yes, people do have to self-actualize, as pianists or mothers, etc. in order to bring something into this world, to learn certain lessons, to find their talents and to serve the world in accordance with these talents.
OLGA LOZINSKAYA: Great! It is great when it is put so simply and understandably, you can just learn and learn! But I don’t think there is an end to this path. And I think that this is where truthless spirituality lies – in saying ‘Yes, that’s it, I have reached an end in my spiritual path and am now fully enlightened’. That cant be genuine. We are always learning and living that, and always trying to reach it. We are always in the process, always walking the path.
RAMI: Yes, we are always walking it, but sometimes that puts us on the level of the mind. If we are trying to achieve something, that’s a path with no end. The path is here and now! We can just feel Love, by being here and now. It is a passionately sattvic path – to be walking for a long time. What you can do in that moment is to observe the breath, to think about ways to serve others — and that energy will flow.
OLGA LOZINSKAYA: Thank you so much! We will always love to see you here. Come again any time!