Looking for Spirituality and Guru in the East
I noticed that it is very common for people to turn towards the East when they start searching for ways to develop spiritually. In a way this is understandable, because if we take a look at religions that are prominent in the world today, the ones that are more related to the progressive growth of the soul, at least on exoteric level, are the ones from the East. So in this way then, people start researching about religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Many make far journeys to Asia in order to search for a school or a teacher that would help them reveal the path that leads out of suffering and to liberation, feeling that it is only in those far lands that they could find true spirituality.
Then also, there are many guru type of individuals who come from the East in order to spread their message in the West, and as such those searching for answers don’t really have to go far, because they believe they’ve been blessed by a guru who came to their continent, so all they have to do is join that particular organization which branches could also be in their own countries.
I believe it has become a dogmatic belief that if someone is spiritually developed, he/she must be from Asia, or must have spent a lot of time learning there (or somewhere else but from an Asian guru). The media has of course contributed a lot to this type of a viewpoint, because in the modern society any form of deeper spirituality is marginalized or looked at as something of the past, something that should have no place in the modern Western society. Exception to this is of course the diluted commercial spirituality which has adjusted very well to the capitalistic mindset. And so, when media is referring to any form of a deeper spirituality, it is often time in a negative sense, or as something that is far out from our culture and that can be found only in the East. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, as the Western esotericism is influenced by so much of the ancient knowledge of the teachings of various cultures, including the knowledge of the ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Gnostics, Essenes, mystical Judaism, Mesoamerican etc.
It is true that in, for example, Asia, a seeker will be able to find more people that are living a spiritual life, and also a lot of places that are set up for spiritual search by the means of meditations in temples, monasteries etc. He or she will also find a lot of people that can teach them how to meditate or be a better person through applying some system of teachings. Still, for someone who is looking for a deeper form of spirituality, something that is more advanced, they may be left disappointed after not finding what they were looking for.
By this I don’t mean that there are none of such in the East. On the contrary, there are probably much more such places there than in the West, but they are not easy to find. And even if one finds them, they may not recognize them or may not be admitted access. That’s because, in my opinion, the true schools of regeneration are kept much more secret in the East. It is said that it used to be like that in the West as well, but with the unveiling of the path to enlightenment, this road has become also available to a “modern” men and women who are living their lives within the capitalistic structure, and cannot afford the luxury of leaving everything behind in order to dedicate all their time to an esoteric study. In fact, in this day and age it is not even needed to leave everything and go to a quiet monastery somewhere in the mountains in Asia in order to spend many years or the rest of your life there. The work can be done in the West as well, in the environment that you already live in.
There exist schools of regeneration in the West also, and, unless there is a strong pull towards the search in the east related to the ‘calling of the soul’, one could also search in the West. There are of course many reasons behind why people search in places they do, and why they in the end choose a teacher or an organization that they choose. There are universal laws at play that may influence people heavily in this regards, probably very much related with past life choices, or what is known as the law of recurrence.
The true path to liberation can be found in the West too, and for many Westerners it would be more suitable for their development to stay in their own or similar cultures, rather than embracing traditions, customs, lifestyle and ways of explanations that are foreign to them, and as such that could bring confusion. With this I am not suggesting that the person should not travel and explore, but rather to keep more options in mind.
The bottom line is that, even though spirituality in Asia was able to thrive for longer than in the West, it may also be possible to find what one is looking for not far from ones own home or country. Understanding and rejecting the influence of the media and the desire of the egos, the person can find his or her way to the teachings by listening inwardly. To do this, it is necessary to quiet down thoughts and emotions, connecting to their essence and trying to hear ‘the voice of silence’ of their own soul. In the end, the search will yield results wherever the seeker may end up, whether that be in the East, West, South or North.
HDP, November 2019.