The Camino Real
Speaking about the path of the saints, Dr Johnson writes in the book With a Great Master in India: “This path is not a theory. It is not a system of beliefs or dogmas. It is not even a religion, although it embraces all of the values of religion. It is an actual way, a genuine road to be travelled, involving, of course, certain preparation and training as one goes along. In fact, the word ‘path’ is not altogether appropriate. It is more properly speaking the Camino Real, or the King’s Highway. It belongs to the royal Masters, and it leads the traveller from earth upward through kingdom after kingdom, from region to region, each one more splendid than the other, in an advancing series until the traveller reaches his final destination, the feet of the supreme Lord of all religions. It is a literal, actual highway, over which the saints and their disciples travel, passing through numberless and vast regions, stopping at different stations en route.
“The passage is really a succession of triumphs, for all the disciples of the saints are enabled to master each region as they enter it, to absorb its knowledge and powers and become citizens of it. The saint is the great captain leading the soul from victory to victory. It is a long and difficult passage, but the saint has been over it many times and he is master of it all. This spiritual journey is, therefore, a long succession of triumphs, until the traveller reaches his grand destination.”
The teachings of the saints are a spiritual science where the experiments take place in the laboratory of our own self. To conduct these experiments we need to put our laboratory in order, and put order in our lives. We have to set our priorities straight and act according to them. Our actions need to reflect our intentions. We have to allow time to prove the results for ourselves.Following a spiritual path
What is it actually that we want from life? What is the purpose of the things we do? Where is the road that we have chosen taking us? Are we really going somewhere or are we running in circles? Are we happy with our lives?
If we are not satisfied with our answers to these questions, we might want to look for a path with a heart, a path in which we can live in the world and at the same time develop what is best in us.
If we have the determination to develop our life to its full potential, we should deepen our spirituality. How are we to do this? What practical steps help deepen our spirituality? We begin first by examining spiritual teachings and being selective about the company we keep. Good company and honest effort will turn us in the direction of God. It is for this reason that every saint stresses to his disciples the importance of good company. It is a fact of human nature that we become like that which we love. A person is influenced by the company he or she keeps. In the company of greedy and lustful persons, we become greedy and lustful. In the company of spiritually inclined people, we too become spiritually inclined. In the company of worldly minded people, we are more likely to become worldly and restless, while in association with spiritual people, we are more likely to become peaceful and serene.
We can also help ourselves by reading spiritual books or by attending meetings where the teachings of the saints are expounded. We may have to do more research, investigating many paths to make sure which one is right for us, which one we feel comfortable with.
It is important to do thorough research to find out which is the best path for us. If with something as trivial as buying a shirt we consider so many before choosing one, how much more careful we should be in making this important decision!
There are many paths and many different teachers. Each one fulfils a particular purpose. If what we are seeking is a path to better our financial situation, to give us more energy, to improve our sex life, to calm the mind, to improve our relationships, to become healthier or to make better business decisions, there are many teachers who can guide us on these paths without our having to go through the hardships and commitment that the teachings of the saints require. The path of the saints is only concerned with self-realization and ultimately with God-realization.
If we decide, after careful consideration, that the teachings of the saints is the right path for us, then we should try for a period of at least one year to abstain from drugs and alcohol, and to follow the vegetarian diet. We should lead an honest and moral life, to see if we will be able to follow this path for the rest of our life.
This path is not a hobby, a club, a religion or a sect. In it there is no pledge to a particular group. No fees are charged. There are no dogmas, no rituals, no ceremonies, no priests, no sacred buildings, no holy scriptures, no group meditation. No blind faith is required. One can belong to any religion and still follow the teachings of the saints.
This path of spirituality involves a personal relationship between the disciple and the spiritual teacher. The teacher asks only for self-commitment to maintain a vegetarian diet, to abstain from drugs and alcohol, to lead a moral life, and to meditate for two and a half hours every day.
This is a path for sober and mature people. When a person is twenty-four years of age or older, he or she can apply for initiation into this path of spirituality. At this age one is less impressionable than in younger years. One has seen enough of the world to know what it has to offer, and one is mature enough to decide whether or not one will be able to take to this path as a way of life.Perfect balance, lightness of being
We have a responsibility to ourselves. We have to take good care of ourselves. No one else will walk our path for us. We have to walk it ourselves. The spiritual teacher will help us, but we must put in the effort. We can rely on the five pillars of spirituality to give us a strong foundation from which we can build our spiritual life. When we make the resolution to become better human beings, in that very moment we begin to develop our spiritual nature, and, with it, what is best in us. If we are to grow, we have to begin by first bringing the values of spirituality into our material world. We need to step out of the small circle to which we have confined ourselves and to expand our horizon of understanding and action.
Developing peace of mind and stability by relying on the five pillars of spirituality, we will relish the tension-free, stable and joyful state of being that will ensue. Cultivating our spiritual nature and relishing it, our mind will seek to retain this new, more enjoyable way of being and will develop the conviction and determination to obtain, as often as possible, the bliss it has tasted. The more our spiritual nature predominates, the more content and free we become.
When we start to walk on the spiritual path, the downward tendencies of the mind will be gradually destroyed. If we tread the path with conviction, our attitude to life will change and we will become spiritually strong. The upward tendencies of our mind will then be free to bring out all that is best in us.
When we have established ourselves on the way of the saints, we begin to act with balance and equanimity, while within we enjoy the most wonderful peace, joy and lightness of being. Then God-realization becomes a real possibility.