The cathedral of doubt is made of sand. In stillness thoughts go no further and distinctions vanish, then doubt dissolves back into the ocean of consciousness.
My experience as a teacher is that doubt is a major reason why students lose sight of the ultimate intention of sādhana: to find that God dwells within them as their Self. In the classical nondual Tantrāloka there’s an extraordinary statement that says that doubt is the fundamental effect of misunderstanding, and that any attempt to discover the truth from a place of doubt is impossible. So let’s look at doubt: what it is, and why it gets in the way of spiritual practice.
One major form doubt takes is that we doubt God’s existence because we can’t see him — even though, in truth, we see him every moment of our lives. It’s so important for us to penetrate through that misunderstanding, to grasp that everything we see is God, and that it is only our dualistic perception that prevents us from seeing this reality. And this is certainly one of the most important tenets of all nondual practices: that there is only One, and that all manifestation is the expression of pure Consciousness, held within the field of that Consciousness. That is God’s perspective; and it should become a living reality for us as well.
We Don’t Perceive Our Own Divinity
Great teachers such as Bhagavan Nityananda remind us that we are a manifestation of the same divine Consciousness that is expressing itself in the life of every single person on this planet, in every moment of every day. Because we don’t always see that divinity in ourselves the requirement for us as sādakas is to be willing to suspend all of the disbelief and doubt. As we’re going through a difficult time — regardless of the conditions that are causing our unrest — we cannot allow the limited capacity of mind to begin to doubt the perfection of our own life.
The ego will always pitch a fit because it perpetually demands that life has to be a certain way. It is the surrendering of ego and the need to control, coupled with the willingness to truly discover the perfected effulgence in ourselves, in every moment, that is critical to spiritual growth. Anything that we allow to distract us from at least attempting to do that, is us accepting doubt and limitation. It is believing our own propaganda.
To discover the perfection of life we must remember that its purpose is to discover that our very essence, our nature, is that perfected effulgence. It’s not what we do or do not have, or the conditions we face. When we reinforce the limited capacity of ego that wants to separate our life from the perfection of life, we are only perpetuating the experience of duality as the nature of our own existence. The purpose of sādhana is to discover that perfection in ourselves and we will never find that if we’re looking at the imperfections of life.
At the deepest level, our life is not separate from us but is a projection of our own consciousness since that consciousness is not separate from God’s. And yet, because we doubt, we are uncertain about our life and we doubt its purpose. We slam through life with sledgehammers in hand, trying to beat it into some idea of what we believe is a perfect life, instead of discovering in ourselves the recognition that our life is perfect in its capacity to free us, in its capacity to reveal to us our inherent unconditional freedom.
Why Doubt Differs From True Inquiry
A student recently expressed the idea that doubt is a form of inquiry. Perhaps it can be, but my experience is that doubt usually only seeks to reinforce what we already believe, while true inquiry is an expression of an inner knowing that reveals the truth of a deeper level of awareness. When we understand that the pure essence of Consciousness is expressing Itself as Its own power, as śakti — and that we are an expression of that Consciousness — we become able to get in contact with that vital force of śakti within that gives and sustains our life. Then we can truly begin to surrender to that energy and to the form of our life that śakti has created for us, for the single purpose of revealing our innate freedom.
When we doubt, it’s too easy to say, “Yeah, God is all One, and God knows Himself as Himself, but this does not apply to me.” We somehow don’t take that same profound simplicity of truth and apply it to our own life. We believe there’s a distinction between us and God. I think it’s important to inquire into doubt from stillness, and not from the level of thought-construct that will always keep us trapped in duality. When inquiry is from a place of stillness and surrender, we allow the truth of our existence, the truth of our life, to reveal itself. That’s how thoughts go no further and distinctions vanish. In stillness, we can let go of our attachment to our own thoughts. We develop the willingness to let them arise and subside, instead of one thought leading to another, then leading to another.
Where Are You Going?
Scientists and mathematicians use the term vector. I love that word because the definition is “force times direction.” Scientists use vectors to determine where rocket ships are headed. If we want to go somewhere, we use our own energy, our force, to direct that intention. The way this idea applies to spiritual life is that, in our attempt to shift from limited to unlimited consciousness, if the vector is off course by just one degree, then we get farther and farther from the correct direction as we move forward. This happens so often in life; we have a clear intention, a moment of profound wish or clarity — God sends us a GPS app and we are sure about where we want to direct our life — and yet somehow we lose that vector, we lose that clarity. And then our life veers off by just one degree and over time we get further and further away from our intended destination.
The way to avoid this is through disciplined inner effort and disciplined consciousness — meaning that, through our meditation practices, we are continually refining our capacity to direct our individuated awareness to deeper levels and not get lost in everything that tends to distract us. First, we penetrate through all the inner noise through our meditation to Consciousness Itself, and then we must apply that focus to the choices we make in our life. We can’t have a profound experience in meditation, with angel dust flying, and then open our eyes and not hold on to and express that same experience in the world. We must remain conscious of what we are doing, because daily life is where our vector usually gets slightly off.
Don’t lose sight of the extraordinary gift of this life, whose purpose is to find freedom, joy, and perfection. Live that gift and live that purpose; live in the abundance of that experience of joy. Find that divine presence in your life and allow it to free you. Doubt will then fall away as we keep sight of our highest intention. As Jimi Hendricks once said, “castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually.”