Friday, 27 July 2012 13:20

What is Purification?

Questioner: When we speak about purification, what is it exactly?

Shunyamurti's Reply: The soul has many impure feelings, and those feelings are based on illusions and ignorance. In the Semitic monotheistic traditions, they call them sins. But they are really failures to understand reality correctly. Basically, the mind posits an entity that is separate from the Source and that has failed in some way in its relationship to that Supreme Being. In other words, the ego feels inadequate and unworthy of God. And on the basis of that postulated entity, which lacks being, the ensuing behavior confirms the lack, but now on the moral and ethical levels.

The condition, interpreted in terms of original sin, becomes actualized by the very fact of believing that it exists. Sins are committed by the ego, because its lack of being produces unconscious formations of paranoia and aggressivity, greed, attachment, lust, all the mortal sins. There is inevitably hatred, anger, and desire for revenge; there is at bottom rejection of the world, and in psychopathic versions of the ego, there are criminal actions or other sorts of unethical acts or at least wishes that harm others, in service of the egocentric power drive.

The healthier ego at least carries a sense of guilt and shame for that, so that is some of the baggage that most people carry. And they need to be able to unburden themselves of that baggage with the help of a credible guide, such as a priest or guru or psychoanalyst, who will accept them non-judgmentally and help them to process their feelings and fantasies and get to the root of why those things were there, what are the karmic trajectories that led to that, and then to let it all go, and to enable the consciousness to undergo a sacred death and rebirth, to be filled with the divine light and love that is our true nature. Until that kind of purification has happened, it will be very difficult to hold on to the inner silence, because these impulses of the unconscious ego create disturbances and drop the consciousness into hell realms, because one does not feel one deserves to receive grace or bliss or God’s presence. And so it is that self-sabotage that ultimately we need to eliminate.

Q: Now in this process of purification, is suffering is necessary? Because some teachings say that. You know, you need to pass through this some kind of voluntary or conscious suffering…but is that necessary?

S: Let us put it this way: if there are ugly wishes and phantasies in one’s unconscious (and it will vary for each person--for some people there might be a little bit, for some there is a huge amount of unprocessed toxic psychic waste) then the very act of seeing it, of realizing it is there, will create some suffering. But does one need to carry that suffering for a long time? No, you could release it instantly to God and be free of it. So how long one has to suffer, whether it is one second or whether it is many years, that depends on the individual.

You know, there are people who have near-death experiences, these are very famous now in the clinical literature, where their heart stops, let us say they are in an emergency room and they are clinically dead for a few minutes and they report that they left the body, went through a tunnel and found the Light and there was a guide and their whole lives passed before their eyes and they saw all the things they were ashamed of and they suffered over it and they were released, and they come back into the body afterwards and they are a new person, it is like they are an avatar, they have been purified, just like that.

Now I do not recommend you all get in an accident and have a near death experience, but in every meditation you can in principle achieve that same thing if you have a wholehearted desire to reach God and then you will see all of that and you will let it go, and it does not have to take a lot of time because it is not about real time, for the time of the unconscious mind and the superconscious mind is not the same time as for the conscious mind. So you can have a dream that seems to last years and then it turns out you were asleep for five minutes. So it is not about the clock time on this earth plane, but because there may be a lot of different lifetimes worth of suffering and karma that need to be purified, the path varies with each individual.

There is no evasion of the law of karma, there is a day of judgment, there is a moment of truth, in which we have to face all the ugliness of the ego, and if we try to short-circuit that or leapfrog that process it will stay repressed and then we will end up in a Bardo state full of wrathful deities, which is what the Tibetan Buddhists talk about, and why they recommend and have this process that the Tibetan Book of the Dead is all about, of helping those who are terminally ill to cleanse their conscience before they die. Once you have left the body, then you would enter a nightmarish realm that you cannot be wakened out of and the wrathful deities will get hold of you and put you through a very painful process of catharsis. This is not the nicest way to go through the purification, there are much more joyful ways of doing it. So voluntary purification through surrender to God and living in detachment and with generosity is the path that has been recommended by every spiritual tradition.
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