Herewith the full Introduction to the book. I thought it might serve as a good point of departure for those of you who intend following these daily readings on a regular basis.
Please pardon the typographical errors. These seem to slip in when moving the contents from Word to this blog.
Enjoy! And please feel free to comment and share your views.
Spirituality Without God could be seen as a fresh and original approach to spiritual life, founded in a truly humanistic paradigm. Being an expression of our deepest need, as well as the fulfillment of our greatest potential, spiritual life is a pro-foundly human affair which has to be given its rightful place in the context of human life. For this to happen, the development and refinement of the human spirit has to be set free from the religious and mystical traditions with their dependence on God and all other forms of the Great Beyond. Spiritual awakening is a process whereby the human spirit is allowed to reveal itself as a many-faceted well of wisdom, compassion and wholeness. For this we do not need God. We need only to allow for the rec-ognition and unfolding of the truly humane within us.
One of the most important insights which this book explores and communicates is that we need not place our trust in any specific tradition, philosophy, religion or teacher for the complete fulfillment of our spiritual journey. It is not necessary to complicate our enquiry with all the traditional forms of spiritual, metaphysical (other worldly) or religious ideas pre-sented to us as revelatory truths. Rather, if we approach our situation with a true spirit of enquiry we will soon discover that we are naturally endowed with an intelligence and purity of heart – the expression of which will satisfy our deepest quest for human well-being. It does this not only in a coherent and prac-tical way, but most characteristically as an awakened sense of compassion and charity, which naturally extends itself towards other human beings and to life in general.
For this humanizing process to unfold and to become our living reality, our starting point would be the recognition that there is absolutely nothing suspect about our born condition. As humans we lack nothing for the complete fulfillment of our deeply-felt need for inner and outer order, happiness, emotional equanimity and a fully integrated, spiritual life. We are born into a wholeness of life that will naturally express itself through unconditional intelligence and pure emotion, if only we could allow for its unfolding.
If we could become sensitive to this primary truth, we will discover that our deepest potential has only been obscured by a vast and complex network of mental and emotional condition-ing, thought-projections and emotional reactivities which have prevented our natural state from revealing itself in our everyday living. These created the appearance of fragmentation and dual-ity whereas we already inhere in an undivided, natural condition of wholeness.
Spirituality Without God brings clarity and insight to this entire field of presumed fragmentation. Through self-enquiry we discover how we fragment our world into nationalities, reli-gious factions, competing economic models, racial discrimination, sexual dominance, philosophical ideologies, ego-centrism, nuclear family units and so on. Through these structures of opposing energies we participate consciously and unconsciously in inner and outer division and fragmentation of our lives. And as we immerse ourselves in these as individuals, we need only to observe our own personal functioning with clarity and insight to discover how we create and perpetuate our own suffering and discontent. In the process we will also dis-cover what needs to be done to free ourselves from these self-imposed limitations.
Such self-observation does not require us to become more religious or philosophical. The path of self-enquiry and self-transcendence suggests quite the contrary: we learn how to ob-serve ourselves with intelligence and clarity. Once we become sensitive to our own inner functioning, we naturally begin to appreciate the extent of the damage we do to ourselves and our world through uninspected living. Here we also become aware of the unfolding of our deeper intelligence which heals and re-orders our lives in resonance with the natural order of things – an order that is non-fragmented and whole.
Through this path of self-observation, meditation and con-templation we will also uncover many hidden aspects of ourselves. Spirituality Without God presents us with clear guidelines on how to restore our sanity through insightful par-ticipation in every aspect of our being. During this investigation it will become clear that to arrive at a complete understanding of ourselves, we need never look outside the already-existing truth of our living reality. This makes our journey truly human-centric where we never feel the need, or urgency, to look for any assistance or guidance from some presumed God, Essence or Ultimate beyond human life.
Yet, to find our human measure, will require the courage to look afresh at every aspect of our interaction with our world as a whole. Approaching both ourselves and objective reality in this openhearted way, we will discover that nothing we may en-counter during this investigation will have the power to deter us from our quest for true integral living. In fact, our enquiry will reveal that the closer we keep to the truth of our present expe-rience, the more liberating our path will be. Truth literally sets us free. But our first gesture towards the freeing of our being from illusion and misapprehension is to observe ourselves intimately in our everyday functioning. We need to get to know ourselves as we are. This is why so much emphasis is placed on self-discovery and self-knowledge throughout this enquiry.
Through self-enquiry we discover the right instruments with which to work most effectively in each situation. It would be of little use to attempt deep investigations into our own being before we have established the appropriate means to facilitate such work. For this we will draw not only on our intellectual and intuitive grasp of things. We will also have to develop other, deeper aspects of our potential to participate in our own processes in a direct and courageous way, without any fear or resistance. Much of the formal meditative work suggested in this book serves this purpose.
And as our inquiry deepens, it will become progressively clearer that we have not embarked upon a path where we merely struggle with the technicalities of our practice in a cold, me-chanical way. Spiritual life is alive as a constant unfolding of our deep humanity. True self-enquiry and self-transcendence is therefore a living process where we realize that we are the path we will have to walk. We are the living experiment we will be experimenting with. There is no path other than the complexities and difficulties we bring to our lives. From within this rich soil of human potential alone could flower a life founded in the well of our own awakened intelligence. It is up to us how far we are prepared to walk this inner path of self-discovery and self-transcendence. No one can do it for us. The journey is ours, yet, humanity as a whole will benefit from the liberating effects of our individual humanization within the broader context of hu-man life.
Perhaps one of the most encouraging elements of the path of self-enquiry is that every new discovery reveals itself as an integral part of a wider liberating process. All we need to do is to find appropriate ways for dealing with our situation. The re-sults will follow by themselves in a natural and quite remarkable way. And as our enquiry unfolds, every aspect of our contracted being will gradually fall away by non-use. When the false, dualistic vision is left behind, only the truth of the wholeness of life remains.
……Instead of freeing us from our confusion, disorder and be-wilderment, our spiritual heritage has served only to complicate our lives by suggesting that we look outside or beyond human life for the ultimate fulfillment of our potential. In this way our spiritual traditions have contributed to our deeply fragmented, dualistic vision and brought us to a point where we have lost all sense of the wholeness in which we already inhere. We may have the rare or occasional glimpses of free being and undivided reality, yet, more often than not, we practice a style of living that keeps us apart and destroys the deep relational integrity of our lives.
Spirituality Without God proposes an original and radically humanistic vision for discovering the non-dual truth of life and the emotional equanimity we all yearn for. By putting aside the dogmas presented to us as revelatory truths by the spiritual and mystical traditions – where we are instructed either to merge with something presumably Greater than ourselves or to realize our identification with some inner Unitive Principle such as Brahman, Emptiness, Consciousness, Atman, God or the Self – the enquiry proposed in this book clearly demonstrates that the path to, and the realization of, the non-dual truth of life lies en-tirely within our human potential, and nowhere else. We need nothing but the integrative measure of our deep humanity for the truth and beauty of our human appearance to be revealed and to become functional in our lives.
Through self-enquiry, self-knowledge and self-trans-cendence we discover that when every aspect of dualistic pre-sumption within us has been recognized and transcended, we are already free in the great simplicity of our natural disposition, which is whole and always nothing other than perfectly human, sane, intelligent and loving. ……