Transcendence is in the Details

People Dancing
November 30, 2010

Despite her unparalleled degree of realization, Anandamayi Ma delighted in discussing with her devotees the minutest aspects of their lives. Nothing was too small to escape her scrutiny – from housework, diet and clothing to everyday disagreements and the mundane emotional reactivity of those around her.

In fact, every great teacher gets into the daily “business” of the most committed students. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche even used to show up at the homes of his students unannounced in the middle of the night. He woke them up in order to see how they would react. Was their practice really integrated and becoming seamless. . . or not?

“Transcendence is immanent” is one way of talking about this process. “Immanent” means indwelling or inherent. The infinite possibilities of transcending karma (aka bondage) dwell in and arise from the weave of everyday life. True realization shows up in the way we move, speak, play, work and especially in how we relate to others.

Anandamayi Ma
Anandamayi Ma

One of the big misconceptions is that having profound spiritual experiences and “high” realizations means a person is highly realized.

I can tell you from my own life and from my engagements with students and other teachers that this is not the case. Spiritual experiences are a dime a dozen. They come and go, leaving imprints and lighting the way, but experiences in and of themselves do not mean actually realizing.

One can even have deeply profound insights into the nature of Reality, but be unable to actualize them as the basis for everyday living. This happens particularly when one’s view is transcendental; when one believes that certain states or “peak” moments of insight are real and everything else is degraded.

It is very important for your realization that you develop honesty, discrimination and clarity about your everyday, minute-by-minute behavior. Most of us need a teacher to help us to get past our own blind spots. But for our part, we need to be uncompromising, and totally nonjudgmental, about seeing our areas of tension and working to relax them.

The more you go along on the path, the more you begin to understand the importance of everyday living as your primary sadhana. You understand that when you have spiritual experiences and then do not work like heck to bring that openness into your everyday relating, wonderful opportunities are lost over and over again.

When a student has truly surrendered to the process of waking up, there is no down time and nothing is off limits. Students who complain that teachers are too fierce or critical or intrusive, or who only look for teachers who make them feel good, are missing the point. Which is fine. Eventually, everyone gets it. It’s just a matter of when. I am writing this in order to share with you my love for and confidence in this process so that you can discover more of that in yourself.

In Ma’s love,