The Path to the Essence of Inner Teachings
The OM Foundation Inner Science has set itself the task of showing seekers an integral path of Self-enquiry. Only Perennial Philosophy (philosophia perennis), the essence of the spiritual teachings of all traditions, provides the ultimate and universally valid answer to the question of our true nature.
To walk the inner path seriously and holistically means to experience and apply the method of Inner Science and to find this most important of all answers within oneself: Who am I?
Inner Work accompanies this process by illuminating what we are not. The exploration of our mental structures and fixations reveals the limitation of the explorer and thus opens the space for the fall into the unknown.
The following texts and interviews provide a deeper understanding of these three key concepts:
The Universal Essence of all Spiritual Traditions
You also speak of the Perennial Philosophy, the philosophia perennis, as the universal wisdom teaching and the essence of the inner teachings from East and West. Can you explain this teaching in a simple way?
OM: There is an Eternal Teaching. A teaching of Truth and Love. It exists beyond all cultures and beyond all times. It is completely unaffected by whether a human being can understand it or not, because it is not created by the human mind. Realised human beings have received this teaching thousands of years ago.
Where does the teaching originate and for whom is it intended?
OM: The teaching has no origin. There is a historical origin of this term (philosophia perennis), that was first used by an Italian bishop and scholar in the 16th century. The knowledge, however, already existed. It is timeless. It is meant for all human beings, but there are only few who are interested in it.
How do Christian mysticism, Zen, Advaita Vedanta, or the teachings of the Sufis relate to the Perennial Philosophy?
OM: All the teachings you listed have one thing in common: they are the inner heart of religion, which is accessed by very few people. This inner heart of religion is the gate that opens to the One Knowledge. All who have ever gone through this gate have found the same: the knowledge of the Heart. The knowledge of the SELF. Simply THAT.
In your book, Spiritual Mastery, you use a term from Indian philosophy for the first time: Integral Yoga. How can I classify it?
OM: I am European, I was born in the West, and then I was led to India to encounter the advaita teaching there. So it is obvious that I use terms from both the Western and the Eastern inner religion. Integral Yoga is that supreme yoga of union which imparts the Perennial Philosophy. All Indian masters, Satgurus, were and are teachers of the Perennial Philosophy.
A universal wisdom teaching is “the union of everything with everything”. There are “Small Weddings”, for example the integration of body and soul in human beings, and there is the “Great Wedding”, the union of the relative world of appearances with the Absolute.
How can I get in touch with this teaching, how can I experience it, and how do I gain a deeper understanding of its essence?
OM: Inner Science is an inner system of knowledge whose methodology has been used by mystics and sages of all times. It is neither faith nor mental knowledge. Integral knowledge is gained through inner practice, especially through Self-enquiry. It relates to what a person is not (but believes to be) as well as to what one really is, and teaches them discernment. Only a mind that has entered into perfect stillness is receptive to the ultimate teaching. The Perennial Philosophy, Integral Yoga, these are teachings of the silent, the silent tradition. Stillness in words. Stillness in silence.
Does the Inner Work you teach serve this approach?
OM: Inner Work is the totality of inner practice to be done on this path. Effort that turns into non-effort. The majority of Inner Work to be done by disciples consists of exploring one’s own mind, which allows and denies each person access to reality.
Work with the heart centre (chants, rituals, darshan, meditation, etc.), as well as work with the abdominal centre, the Hara, are also aspects of Inner Work.
You mention the term “Born to be” in connection with the Perennial Philosophy: What is meant by this?
OM: No ordinary human being knows Being, or knows what Being is. This loss of Being is the original sin, the original trauma of all humans. Everybody is looking for it. But most of them in the wrong place, in substitute worlds. To recognise this Being again is one’s birth right. That is what “Born to be” means.
The Revelation of Universal Knowledge
Spiritual masters and teachers from different traditions show human beings the way through the heart to integral intelligence, through inner science to ‘philosophia perennis’, where searching comes to an end because universal knowledge reveals itself. Whoever opens himself to the Master in trust stands at the beginning of unfolding the true human potential.
Next to the ‘outer science’ that researches nature, the ‘Inner Science’, that works self-reflexively, takes its place. The researcher of Inner Science is not interested in the truths of the outer world; he is interested in the ultimate and eternal Truth, the ‘philosophia perennis’. For this he is prepared to explore himself, the nature of his limitations and to face the ultimate question – “Who am I?“ The true answer to this question is the key to knowledge and opens the door to entering the “Intelligence of Awakening“.
As long as the scientist is not aware of his own limitations, he uses only a fraction of his possibilities to explore and penetrate the primordial ground of all being. The scientist who thirsts for knowledge does not usually know that he is not researching for his own sake, but as an instrument of a higher will. As long as he is not aware of this, hidden egoistic motives prevail to acquire knowledge, to want to possess it and to adorn himself with it – and he does not notice that it is the denial of his own limitation that results in the desire to overcompensate, an arrogance that impedes any inner maturation of the human condition.
This is precisely where the bridge from outer to inner science must be built. A true scientist inevitably comes up against his limits sooner or later. In order to cross the border, to transcend the limitation, he must open himself to the inner unknown, which he had previously excluded from his research. This is the essential step for stepping out of the limitations of ‘his’ knowledge and enter into universal knowledge. It requires the exploration of one’s own ‘I’: Who am I? Who is the one who is exploring? The realisation of the Self has been paraphrased from earliest times by Indian masters in this trinity: Sat-Chit-Ananda. Being, Consciousness, Bliss.
The Exploration of the Mind’s Worlds
In order to walk the path of unfolding one’s soul, it would first require “conscious effort” (Gurdjieff). This means turning inwards, a redirection of attention by 180 degrees. It initiates the pursuit of a path which is directed inwardly – the Inner Work (cf: OM C. Parkin, Intelligence of Awakening, Gateways Books & Tapes, 2019, p. 133).
All people seek, but only few really look in the realm we call the world within. Wisdom teachers throughout all times and all traditions are united by a notion for the inner gate. Only those who pass through this inner gate, and pass the guards who challenge them, can find spiritual bliss. The bliss of which the masters speak, is not to be confused with the transient happiness of human love or any other temporary desires.
Bliss in simply BEING. A bliss that does not come nor go, since it is an inherent “scent” of realised human nature. Even during painful experiences, the human being conscious of himself does not lose this latent “scent”. All conscious efforts of the inner path that happen with pure intent will sooner or later reveal this “scent”.
Inner work as the Small Self-Enquiry is also a gateway into a labyrinth: the labyrinth of time, and the labyrinth of history. This labyrinth consists of psychospiritual concepts and identifications which the ego-mind has built up and interconnected. Such concepts of the mind exist as conceptions of one’s self and the world, of one’s ideas, judgements, emotions etc. Whoever enters a labyrinth must come prepared with an intention in mind, otherwise one runs the risk of getting lost. This is perhaps the greatest pitfall of Inner Work: to find one’s Self lost in the labyrinth of the mind, the descent into the process of re-identification with one’s mind and one’s ‘non-self’. But if the self-enquirer dwells on the consciousness enquiry of what he is not, then this cramped perspective of the mind could unfold into the still heart of the ‘unknowable’. This opening, this incineration of the ego-mind, is what many wisdom traditions refer to as the little death.
The only viable stance to be adopted in this inner transformative process is one of meditative practice. Meditation is the inherent art of non-doing, the still and aimless cultivation of a scene for only one reason: consciousness itself. “Don’t touch the story” – this was one of the most important doctrines from my teacher Gangaji to me.
To this end, the doing and the not-doing have been brought together on the inner path and coalesced into the doing within not-doing. Following this principle, the inner work of the path occurs through meditation. So, whenever a disciple asks me, “What do I have to do?”, I would answer “Nothing”. “But you say I have to put in the work…” “No, you don’t. However, also don’t obstruct the work, so that it may happen”.
The events of the OM Foundation Inner Science open a space for one’s own inner encounter with the wisdom teaching. The living transmission of the eternal teaching, which does not change through the ages and thus never loses its relevance, is a precious gift in this day and age. The individual events – such as darshans and retreats, conferences and events of Self-exploration as well as digital formats – offer different approaches to contemplation, stillness and the transmission of true knowledge.