In this interview OM C. Parkin answers to some of the most important questions that seekers on the inner path ask themselves.
Q: OM, what is an inner life?
OM: An inner life is the only real life. An outer life is an unreal life. An inner life is a life whose attention is directed inward, without completely and definitively knowing what „inward“ means. But when I tell you to turn the attention inward something understands, and perhaps a reversal of the attention takes place, so that discovery can begin: what is inside ? The inner path is, simply put, a path to find what is real, to wake up from a life which is unreal, but seems real.
Q: Do I need a guide, do I need a teacher?
OM: You want to avoid the term „guru“.
Q: Do I need a guru?
OM: But what guru? It would be simple to give a direct answer to that question, but I have to give you back this question – what guru? You see, the guru is a non-existent figure. If we refer it to human forms it is a non-existing principle in Western society or in the collective mind of Western society. So the guru does not exist. Before we put energy in answering this question we have to ask many more questions about what a guru is and also answer the question why the guru has vanished from Western society. Jesus Christ was the last living guru in Christianity, I mean the last one accepted and recognised by the later Catholic Church. Since then our religious culture has been hostile to the form of a living guru, so that we do not know what the living guru is. What is left is the false guru, the charlatan, and the media are full of comments on false teachers, especially false spiritual teachers, and false gurus. So the guru is simply non-existent. In two thousand years of Christianity we have not cared a bit about the guru. He is an unknown principle, an unknown sphere. Nobody knows anything about gurus. So some people have gone and visited spiritual masters in the Eastern world and these people may have got a taste of what the guru principle is. But for Westerners who have never come in contact with Eastern religions it is very difficult initially to learn about the guru. They have a very neurotic conditioning in terms of authority in general and of course especially in terms of authority higher than the mind.
Q: Who are you? What do you teach?
OM: I am this one principle. My teaching is the realisation of the eternal true nature of man through the abandonment of the world and the perfection of the existing perfection through world communion. This is the answer I gave in my last book. This is the inner path, and if the inner path is very short it is a no-path.
Q: Does death function as a teacher?
OM: Death is a gate to eternity. Finding eternity means finding the true nature of man as I said before. So, we have to pass through this gate. Of course, an ordinary human being knows death only as the death of the physical body. The death of the physical body according to the inner teachings is not the most important transition, and it is not the most important transformation a human being can undergo. There is a much more important moment of death, the death of the mind, which is not the death of intelligence, but the death of this self-identified entity called the mind, which is an “I“, separate from a “you“, or from the world, or from God. On the inner path we can come very close to the moment of death, not in a physical sense, but in a mental and then even in a spiritual sense.
Death is a moment that guides you into your true Self. We need knowledge about death to find our true Self. This is not knowledge accumulated by the mind but knowledge through the direct experience of death. The “I“ fears death and tries to escape. The inner teachings would teach you the opposite behaviour, to turn around and get very close to death wherever it appears, to look into the eyes of what death is. So yes, it is the Guru principle that appears through death.
Q: How can I distinguish between “inside“ and “outside“ in my daily life?
OM: Inside is always what is immanent to the soul, outside is what is alien to the soul. Of course everybody has only a very rough distinction between inside and outside and could believe that what is under the skin is inside, or could believe that what is in the mind is inside – this is not necessarily inside, but it is the path of self-exploration that makes you discover what is inside and finally exclude many objects that previously seemed to be inside, for example thoughts or emotions, and then on this path you discover that they are not inside after all. Inside can only be what is yourself emanating from your Self.
Q: Where does the inner life begin?
OM: The inner life begins when you try to direct your attention inwards. You begin to explore – and of course you begin to explore “Who am I“ – and of course you find yourself exploring the labyrinths of the mind. It may turn out that they are not “I“, that they are not “inside“, but you continue to go deeper with the intention of finding what is truly “I“.
Q: Does the inner life begin with being truly human?
OM: No, the inner life does not begin with being human, it leads you to being human. I mean you are human, that’s clear, but the realised adulthood of a human being is not the same as just being human, mostly in an unconscious way. People need what I call the second incarnation, and only an inner path can lead a person to the so-called second incarnation where you have to go through the stages of evolution again, but this time in a conscious way. It is a process that happens, a repetition of the first incarnation with your attention turned inwards.
And it is also a description of the integral path, where consciousness passes through every stage of incarnation integrating the lower one and transcending it. This is the natural process of becoming, the natural maturation to consciousness. There is no way of missing maturity and adulthood if we don’t interfere. It simply happens, it is the natural play of evolution. And, of course you often hear me say that adulthood or mature humanity is a condition for the inner path and for spirituality in general. Because the spiritual path is not for children, and the great majority of people has not overcome childishness in this life. Why is this so? Because they have not passed a certain threshold called responsibility – we could call it a response to fate. This is as far as the contribution of the personal mind can go. So it is the end of what the personal mind can contribute. After that we do not know what happens to this mind, but the mind must definitely go beyond this threshold and take responsibility. You see, people do have responsibility anyway, but who takes it completely? This implies that you fully and completely accept that the only source of suffering in yourself – even in the whole world – is only in your mind. So then you must begin to discover: What is the mind, who is the mind ?
Q: Is an inner life an impersonal life?
OM: No, inner life is not yet an impersonal life in itself, but it can lead to an impersonal life. Impersonal life is the dissolution of personal life.
When we discover the true nature of the mind, personal life dissolves.
An impersonal life does not seem attractive to the beginner of this path and to a person who has absolutely no idea of reality. An impersonal life seems to be the end of individuality and maybe even of creativity and the specialness of myself, and this is true of course. It is true, but it is also untrue, people do not understand, the mind cannot fully understand impersonality or impersonal life.
We discover what is personal, and we find two aspects: We find the great identification with the physical form, with name and form; this makes me personal. But what else makes me personal, what has even more power than the physical identification is the identification with the “I-mind“. And the I-mind is a story of life, a story in time. It is related to certain conditions, to a certain limited frame of perspective. If it is possible for consciousness to leave this limited frame, this conditioning, an impersonal life could show, which of course changes everything. Impersonal life changes everything. It is not even ultimately decisive whether this one personal body lives or not, it does not change impersonal life. And also so-called opinions or points of view of this mental identification called “the mind“ are not important, it does not matter whether this mind has an opinion or not, it does not change impersonal life. Nor does it change impersonal life whether this body is there or not.
When the vessel is broken and everything flows out and spreads everywhere, this expansion of consciousness shows the perspective of an impersonal life.
Q: How can one be human and impersonal in one?
OM: The human being is included in impersonal life. The human being is not excluded from impersonal life. The smaller, more limited is always included in the larger, the less limited. So, there is no contradiction between the form of the human being and impersonal life.
The physical form to which a human being naturally relates intimately – the physical form does not say “I“ and “I am“, and then the story follows. It is not the physical form that tells the story. The physical form is just an object of life, just as there are many objects; they are all part of the great play called manifestation. It is only the “I-mind“ that resists impersonal life. Impersonal life also points to reality, it is just a different name for reality, whereas personal life is just another name for dream or unreality.
The mind is an entity resisting impersonal life because the mind says: I want to be somebody. I don’t want just to be like water, water is everywhere, in every body and every single object of life, everything is just water. But I want to be a certain kind of water, a drop that has a certain shape, a certain name, and a certain story that gives it its own separate kind of power.
Impersonal life is just the description of unity, the unity that is found anyway in the stillness of the mind.
Q: What is the connection between love and inner life?
OM: In the inner life we find love, in the outer life we confuse objects with love, maybe we love a person, maybe we love a thing, maybe we love a country, maybe we love our home. But these are all objects of perception, this is a love for objects and not love itself. To find love itself we can only follow an inner path, so that the attention leaves this obsession for objects. So yes, on the inner path we find love.
Q: Would you please introduce your manual of inner life: „Intelligence of Awakening – Navigating the Wisdom Path“.
OM: Well, I will present this book as an introduction to the wisdom teachings, a universal inner wisdom that has been transmitted not only in certain cultures, and not only in certain times. It is also called the eternal philosophy, and if you are interested in following this inner path that leads to reality, we need to introduce certain terms to clarify all the misunderstandings that have made it impossible for people to really understand what is meant by this … So there is a chapter about the mind; who is the mind, that is the most fundamental question on the inner path. And there is another chapter on what suffering is. What the inner teachings understand by suffering is absolutely not the same as what ordinary people understand by it. If you are a healthy person, laugh a lot and have a happy time, it does not mean that you do not suffer. It may simply mean that your are not even aware of suffering. Suffering can be described by this image of somebody living in a prison. It is a small and confined space, and maybe there are some plastic flowers on your bedside table. You don’t know anything else, it is where you have lived all your life or maybe even for lifetimes; there is nothing else you know. You are not even aware of your self-limitation. So, you feel completely happy in prison. To become aware of your suffering you need first of all an awakening to what suffering is, to the fact that you suffer.
And then of course there is a chapter about the teacher-student relationship that accompanies the inner path – if it is serious -, where I also describe all these misunderstandings I have been talking to you about, as for instance the loss of the Guru principle in the Western world.
There will be a second volume of this book, but it will take time.