I hear they are doing a remake of that goofy 80s movie. I don’t understand what people found in it back then, apart from an annoyingly catchy song, and I don’t understand why are they resurrecting it now. I don’t understand movies at all. It used to be considered an art form but now the term “industry” is far more appropriate. The original idea was to inspire people, to elevate their consciousness, pretty much like books but more impressive. “Industry”, otoh, doesn’t inspire anything, it only makes profits and pollutes the environment, in this case mental environment. I mean they have untold number of remakes of Spiderman and Superman and Batman and all possible superheroes. Or they do superhero robots. According to press, the biggest movie of all time is going to be the latest Star Wars, which is the seventh installment in the series. Talking about chewing the chewed – how many Chewies one can take?
I wasn’t going to talk about movies, though. A Buddhist guy I know recently told me about his interesting experience while meditating. He does that “sit quietly and try not to fall asleep” thing and on rare occasions he succeeds. This time it was all going as usual – the mind was filled with all kinds of thoughts and worries, then it got tired and emptied itself out, and my friend was just about to fall asleep when suddenly he had a vision of a ghost. It was a child with blood flowing down his face, quite scary. He talked about it as a matter-offact and his fellow Buddhists weren’t surprised at all. Now it was my turn to offer Kṛṣṇa conscious perspective but I managed to decline and change the subject.
This whole ghost thing is just nonsense. We should be real ghostbusters here and destroy people’s illusions of spirituality. Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to criticize other people’s spiritual endeavors. They are doing their thing as arranged for them by God and we should leave them alone. If they are ready Kṛṣṇa would encourage them from within and if He doesn’t do that then it’s His plan.
What we should always keep in mind is that most religious people ARE guided by God, they are not on their own, and so we should be very careful trying to convert them because it would mean we claim to know better that God Himself. If we are honest with ourselves we should know that we have no clue what is better for us and we should leave it to Kṛṣṇa. How can we claim to manage other people’s spiritual life better than Him when we can’t even manage our own? It’s delusional.
If we do want to offer advice we should do so only if we see people’s connection with Kṛṣṇa. They know what this connection is even if they can’t express it in words and they will appreciate our sincere efforts even if we come from a completely different tradition. If we don’t see this connection then we better stick to the order of Śrīla Prabhupāda not to disturb fellow religious people and do not say more than necessary – we are souls different from bodies etc.
Still, this whole ghost thing is nonsense. There might be some spiritual benefits in Buddhist mediation and seeing “ghosts” might lead to eventual realization that it’s all crap but for now it’s mostly a distraction. Worse than that, it’s ersatz spirituality, a poor substitute of a real thing.
God cannot be perceived with material senses, including mind and imagination. Whatever they think they are seeing is not God. As we know from our books, the subtle plane in this universe has unimaginable diversity, unimaginable population, unimaginable opulence, and it manifests unimaginable powers. If we want to know it all before we proceed towards Kṛṣṇa we’ll be stuck there forever, lifetime after lifetime, and we still won’t see the end to universe’s wonders. That’s why I say it’s a distraction.
On the other hand, if the interest is there it must be satisfied, there’s no way people can defeat their curiosity by sitting still and not trying to fall asleep, so some indulgence is necessary. Perhaps they need to sample just a little part of that world and they would leave it alone. It’s like trying sea-water – the ocean is big but one sip is all you need to know its taste. Judging by people’s interest in smartphones, apps, and mobile internet in general, one sip is not going to be enough, though.
It becomes really dangerous when people decide that seeing ghosts and other “wonderful” things is a truly spiritual experience and there’s little more to spirituality than that, and it’s even worse with various “Hindus” on the internet. Somehow they feel entitled to speak as insiders and feel no shame in proclaiming their often ridiculous views as the real thing. I mean if they are not in their temples but sit in front of their computers they are not practicing their sādhana, whatever it might be.
They can’t meditate, can’t do tapasyā, and instead of a temple they go on the internet. After checking everything that’s available there they realize they know something westerners don’t and start behaving as experts. Their neophyte views won’t fly among real practitioners but westerners will gobble up everything, they are an easy prey and there’s an added bonus in that sweet feeling of being admired by white men. Usually, Indians go to the West to learn and to serve so it’s understandable that if there’s one thing they can see themselves as superior at they are going to exploit it to the hilt.
There’s also a large group of western practitioners, usually neo-advaitins but there are many ex-ISKCON people there, too. They volunteer to serve as a bridge between Indian esoterics and western gross materialism and take positions of gurus, dishing out “knowledge” by a shovel. Some want to be different from a pack and seek various niches but it’s all done in pursuit of one’s ego, there’s not a hint of true spiritual knowledge there.
We don’t even need to criticize their ersatz spirituality ourselves, neo-advaita is ridiculed by senior “advaitins” just fine and it should matter more to them them then anything coming out of our mouths. Actually, to qualify oneself for trying real advaita one needs to spend about a decade in apprenticeship leading far more austere lives then our brahmacārīs. We prepare ours for grhastha life, they prepare theirs for sannyāsa, and taking up sannyāsa is only the beginning of jñāna yoga. I don’t know of any westerners accepted as disciples in actual Śaṅkara sampradāya, they are just clowns completely ensnared by their minds and egos.
Ex-ISKCON devotees consciously cut themselves off spiritual knowledge so there can’t be anything real there by definition, just studying texts or sickly sweet sentimentality.
Spiritual knowledge manifests itself in a person’s heart as a result of selfless service to his guru. Nominally, most of these people do have gurus and as much as they serve them selflessly they can make progress. If we see that we can acknowledge it but they also pile tons of garbage on that small spark of opportunity so chances that it would develop into anything serious are very slim.
So, garbage is garbage, spark is spark, we should know both, dismiss one and try to fan the other. Unfortunately, people are pigs these days and feed mostly on garbage, quite often it’s a lost cause.