In this episode, we kick off our new series on spiritual psychology and explore the wisdom of the Bhavagad Gita, Chapter 7, Verse 16, the 4 types of spiritual seekers. What triggers a person to enter the spiritual life? Once on the spiritual path, what drives them to continue? We discuss:
4 Types of Spiritual Seekers Transcript
Welcome to Soul Sessions with CreativeMind with Debra Berndt Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado of CreativeMind. Join us each week for inspiring conversation about personal development based on Jungian philosophy, Eastern spirituality, and social neuroscience. Spend each week with us to explore deep topics in a practical way. Let's begin.
Debra Maldonado 00:28
Hello, welcome to another episode of Soul Sessions with CreativeMind. I'm Debra Maldonado, here with Dr. Rob Maldonado, and we are off to a new season.We’re going to kick off this season with some fundamentals of spiritual psychology and how to use them in your life to reach your goals and be happier and all those wonderful things that we want out of life.
Robert Maldonado 00:56
A special shout out to all our students. Thank you, guys, for a great year 2022. We're looking forward to 2023 now and hope you stay with us and join us.
Debra Maldonado 01:11
Before we get started today, I do want to remind you to subscribe to our channel. If you're watching us here on YouTube, click the button in the corner that says Subscribe, make sure you get notifications of every new episode and all our new informational videos. If you are listening to us on Spotify, iTunes, or any other podcast hosting service, don't forget to subscribe because we release a new episode every week. You don't want to miss out and get lost. Get that regular dose of inspiration every week from us to help you live the best life ever. Let's talk about the new topic, spiritual psychology. Maybe we can describe it a little bit.
Robert Maldonado 01:57
Maybe a little background for our new viewers. The way we approach the Gita, we're going to talk about its spiritual psychology. That means we're looking at how it applies to us today. What we know from psychology, especially from depth psychology, what we can see in the psychology of the spiritual traditions of the world, now we're going to look at Eastern philosophy, particularly the philosophy that is encoded in the Gita. Now the Bhagavad Gita is considered the distillation of all the knowledge from the Upanishads. It’s written so well, it's integrated into this incredible story of Krishna and Arjuna, who are about to fight a battle. Right before the battle, Krishna decides to instruct Arjuna on the philosophy of the self, philosophy of mind, what is going on in our world, in your mind, in reality. The Gita contains all that wisdom encoded in the Upanishads, which we'll save for a later podcast because it's a topic unto its own. But there's a verse in there that talks about the four different kinds of spiritual seekers.
Debra Maldonado 03:45
That's what today's episode is about, the four types of spiritual seekers. We're going to tell you what they are, then you can identify which one you are, or more than one. I think you can have more than one, you can approach it. But it's interesting to see the reasons why people seek spiritual knowledge.
Robert Maldonado 04:07
The approach we take to working with our mind, working with our spirit, anyone who's interested in personal development, this is for you.
Debra Maldonado 04:22
I just want to say, we always say if you were on a desert island, and can only bring one book with you, you never know if you're going to be rescued, what would that one book be? I’d say the Gita would be the book I’d want to bring because it really encapsulates all the wisdom of life. Even if you're on an island and don't have any other interaction, you can work with it, with the principles, and really cultivate happiness. It really is an incredible piece of literature, I invite everyone to read it more than once, study it, read it. What are the four types?
Robert Maldonado 05:05
This goes to chapter 7, verse 16. It says, there are four types of spiritual seekers, or four types that approach me. Krishna is speaking here and saying “There's four types of people that approach me”, meaning they worship me, they seek my wisdom.
Debra Maldonado 05:31
If you're a Christian, think who seeks God? Or any major religion, that idea of God. Why do we worship or seek God's help?
Robert Maldonado 05:45
More than God, that's a good point. Because God is essentially part of our culture, part of the way we see the world, part of the individual’s worldview, whereas Krishna is representing the self. The self in Eastern philosophy, especially in the Upanishads, is considered a bigger, more encompassing principle of consciousness. What allows God to exist? What allows the universe to exist?
Debra Maldonado 06:19
More than just a deity, it's a concept of consciousness. Krishna would be a personalization or a symbol of that higher consciousness.
Robert Maldonado 06:30
Higher consciousness is speaking directly to Arjuna who represents us, as our individual incarnation. He says there are four types. First one, the distressed, somebody who's suffering, somebody who's in pain. Second one, the seeker of knowledge. Someone like us, who wants to know, they want to know, they're curious, they want to understand.
Debra Maldonado 07:06
Not knowledge like how science works, or how to build a building, that’s lower knowledge. Basically, higher knowledge is what they're seeking, they’re seeking knowledge of consciousness.
Robert Maldonado 07:20
The third one, the seeker of worldly possessions. That's an interesting one because a lot of people don't think someone who's seeking worldly possessions belongs in this category of a spiritual seeker. But we'll look at that. Finally, he says, and this is the best one of them all, those situated in wisdom, meaning somebody who is essentially already enlightened or well on the way to enlightenment, but understands that you still have to practice and cultivate higher knowledge, higher wisdom, that it doesn't just stay with you because you've realized it.
Debra Maldonado 08:13
Once you wake up, you have to work at staying awake because as long as we have a body, we’ll have an ego and human needs that we always have to deal with: hunger, pleasure, paying bills. Even if you are sitting in alignment, they're still there. As long as you have a body, you have to take care of it. You have to find a way to keep it alive. Those things drive a lot of the other desires. How do we sit in wisdom and deal with the tension, with our human self?
Robert Maldonado 08:57
Let's go back to the first one, the distressed, meaning, human suffering. We've all been there, when we experience loss. Loss is one of the universal ones. If you're alive today, you've experienced or you will experience loss because the people you love are going to die, you’re going to lose situations, circumstances, opportunities, you're going to lose jobs. You're going to find other ones, of course, but it's a continual process of feeling that life is impermanent and therefore it causes you pain. You can use that pain though as an opportunity to seek higher wisdom.
Debra Maldonado 09:49
Instead of “Let me find out how to get rid of the pain”, “Let me transcend it” versus just patch it up. Or find something external you think is going to fix it. That's the whole root of suffering, thinking something external is going to solve the suffering. When I was single all those years, that's what got me into personal development, I was suffering. I was in my 30s, everyone else was married, there's something wrong with me. I thought if I just found that partner, I wouldn't suffer anymore. That was keeping me in more suffering, a loop. We need to seek something more than just something out there to solve it. We are hanging on to something that we're losing, resistance to life in a way, because we age, our children grow up, or parents get older, there's always that angst of life, no one’s spared.
Robert Maldonado 10:48
It's universal, meaning if you're born, you're going to experience suffering. There's an old saying that there are no atheists in a foxhole. What that means is that when you feel you're close to mortal danger, you could die at any moment, what is one thing that most humans will do? They'll cry out to God or to the Divine, to some universal force to help them. It's a natural inclination in human nature to seek out something bigger than us because we know it's there. Whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we practice it or not, when it comes down to it, most people will seek out the divine.
Debra Maldonado 11:40
Don't you think when we are suffering, we think God isn't there, this divine presence isn't there, we're alone in this suffering. It’s that need to connect. We feel abandoned in a way and need to reconnect.
Debra Maldonado 11:58
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Debra Maldonado 12:54
The next one would be the seeker of knowledge. That's someone who loves learning about spirituality, having these weird dreams that are very mystical, having these mystical experiences. When I was a kid, I would have dreams of flying. I’d have these visions and intuition and weird stuff that would show up. Like what is going on here? There were no answers. Even when I was raised Catholic, I was always wanting to study what God was doing. I found it fascinating. Some people have that in them, that desire to know, their spiritual side. You see different people, some people have passions and certain things, people that are into personal growth, a lot of us have that spiritual craving for knowledge.
Robert Maldonado 13:49
One last comment about the distress. If you think about the alternative, if we only see ourselves as biological beings, all we can do is say “Life is suffering. It's painful. I'm experiencing all this pain, fear, anguish, or a sense of meaninglessness. What can I do to alleviate that besides going inward and seeking the true self as Krishna says? There's not much I can do. All I can do is try to numb my pain.” You see a lot of people falling into addiction, alcohol, drugs, television, Netflix, whatever they can do to distract their mind from the pain of suffering, they have no other choice except to distract and numb their mind.
Debra Maldonado 14:53
Even throw themselves into work. Just stay busy. You can't sit and just be still, you have to always be going. I know a lot of people who feel uncomfortable when they first start meditating because they're not used to just being with themselves.
Robert Maldonado 15:13
The point about meaninglessness is this: when people reach, for example, that point of suicide, they can’t bear the level of meaningless anymore. The only way out for them is to end their own life as a way of ending their suffering. Which leads us to the second level of a seeker of knowledge. If you ever find yourself in that position, or if you've been there, we’ve all felt a little bit of that despair, what is the meaning of all this stuff? Then that is the answer, there's a higher level of seeking, where we're actively acknowledging, first of all, that there must be a knowledge that satisfies that sense of meaninglessness. There has to be an answer. The search for it itself is a way of approaching the self.
Debra Maldonado 16:29
Jung said that everything is a spiritual problem. It's a spiritual hunger we're trying to solve. The human problems can't be solved on a human level. It's a spiritual solution that we really have to look for.
Robert Maldonado 16:49
What Carl Jung means by that is that you're not going to find the answer to meaninglessness in the physical appearance of the world. You're going to have to search within, you're going to have to approach that question of what is the consciousness within me, that awareness within me, that’s the second level of the seeker of knowledge.
Debra Maldonado 17:23
Reading the Gita, studying the Gita, listening to podcasts like ours about higher knowledge, trying to learn something beyond just what we learned in grade school and college, or from our parents about life. There's something more profound that we need to seek, the truth, basically. They say the truth will set you free. The next one, the seeker of worldly possessions. We all have or know someone who has been seeking worldly possessions. It’s not really materialistic, but we do all fall into this category. I want to make enough money to survive, I gotta pay my bills, I want to find a partner, I want to have a home, I want to have children. Those are all worldly things. They have a spiritual element to it if you infuse that in. But if you think about it, a lot of people look for those things for social acceptance, social drives, to feel a part of the tribe. If we have everything other people have, that jealousy when someone has more than us. We think “If I just manifest or learn law of attraction, I can have those material things.” That's a form of spiritual seeking but it falls short because we want to examine why we want those things, what's the “why” underneath having riches, or having a partner, or children, or living your purpose. There's has to be more than just the outer appearances or the ego needs. The desire for those worldly possessions can lead us to seeking knowledge spiritually, it can be a stage where we are in manifestation, thinking the thoughts create our life. Those are great but that's not going to fully satisfy us because we're putting the material above the spiritual, we're doing it just for the material, that's not really a great way to use spiritual knowledge because then you're caught up again, you're rearranging the furniture and going back to that suffering and pain because it's never going to be satisfying.
Robert Maldonado 19:59
That's a good synopsis of the different approaches we can take to the idea of a seeker of worldly possessions. If we look at it in the evolution of the spiritual path, we see that suffering leads us to questioning why I suffer. What is the meaning of this? That’s the second level of seeking knowledge but the seeking knowledge leads us— the Jungian idea of individuation is that once you start to understand the world itself is divine as well, because everything is the self, the self is everything, it doesn't exclude our work in the material world, the apparent reality we see in the world. The seeker starts to realize there's nothing wrong with using material as long as you see it as useful for your spiritual development.
Debra Maldonado 21:06
Serving your spiritual work versus the spiritual work serving the material, keeping the right perspective.
Robert Maldonado 21:15
Sometimes the beginner will see or think that this is out of sorts, that a person that's seeking worldly possessions should not be considered as a spiritual person. But they're not understanding the bigger picture, that this is part of an evolution of consciousness, that to include the world, the way it appears to us as part of your spiritual training, and to use money and material for higher purposes, is part of the journey of a spiritual person.
Debra Maldonado 21:59
In actuality, what you will learn is if you start using spiritual principles, like “I'm one with everything, I can create a new life”, then it doesn't show up for you and you're frustrated, it's a way to grow. Through that growth, you start to realize who you become in the process of working through that attachment to those things, then it becomes of service to you. Having a relationship that serves your higher purpose, having a career that serves your higher purpose, having more material resources, like money, to reach more people, if you are a teacher, or a coach, it's actually good to have those worldly possessions. But again, the possessions are the tools, the real prize is who you become, your ability to express yourself in that higher knowledge. That's really the key.
Robert Maldonado 22:59
The possessions are in service of the higher purpose of your spiritual path, not the other way around.
Debra Maldonado 23:11
Not in service of your ego. You can think about having good Instagram reel and saying “Look at all the things I accomplished” to impress others, you're actually using that to inspire others, to say “You can do it too.” It's less of an ego thing, showing off, or hiding something that you're miserable about, covering it up. It's more like this is who I am. If you read the higher knowledge, the unconscious, the divine in us is infinite and pure potential. It matches the higher knowledge.
Robert Maldonado 23:49
You can’t live a complete full life if you don't have the resources to do the things you need to do. That's definitely part of it. Which leads us to the fourth stage, the highest one, as Krishna says. It is the person situated in wisdom. Wisdom is different from knowledge. In the beginning, we need to gather knowledge, we need to do self inquiry. What is the meaning of my life? Where do I find fulfillment? But wisdom is knowing. When they did a BBC to interview Jung towards the end of his life, they asked him “You've been studying religion and spiritual symbolism all your life through psychology. Do you believe in God?” He said “I don't believe, I know.” That's wisdom. It's a direct understanding of direct knowledge of who you are, what the nature of consciousness is, what the nature of the world is. You don't have to guess anymore. You don't have to believe anymore. You don't have to force your mind to believe in something you can't see, you have a direct understanding of direct experience of it.
Debra Maldonado 25:22
Even if it's not out there, or not showing up something you want to create, you have this deep knowing that it's already there and you're moving toward it. I don't think I was fully enlightened at this point, but a coach was interviewing me, and she said “What are some of your unfulfilled dreams?” I said “All of my dreams have been fulfilled, I just haven't lived through them yet.” That’s knowing that I have a lot I want to accomplish in this life, it's all going to work out. I don't know how, but I'm going to be expressed that way. That knowing takes you away from the suffering, from the attachment, from the grasping, from the fear of not having it to knowing deep in your soul that this is truth. It really is a freedom. But you have to go through those stages. I think this distressed person is like a wake up call. We all have that pivotal moment, where you're like “This is not working my life.” These things are a blessing when they happen to us. It feels like a curse at the time but it's really a blessing because it gets us on this trajectory of moving through these stages of spiritual growth and enlightenment. Every stage is beautiful.
Robert Maldonado 26:42
This is just a little piece of the spiritual psychology that is encoded in the Gita. This is one verse.
Debra Maldonado 26:52
It's so full of information. For those of you who want to be reminded, it's chapter 7, verse 16. The four are the distressed, the seeker of knowledge, the seeker of worldly possessions, and those situated in wisdom. Those are the four types of spiritual seekers. We're going to be continuing this series every week on spiritual psychology, introducing you to how psychology and spirituality come together to help you have a more complete, whole life, so all of you are included in your growth process.
Robert Maldonado 27:35
Thank you for joining us, we hope to see you in the following series we want to do throughout the year.
Debra Maldonado 27:45
We'll see you soon. Take care.
Robert Maldonado 27:49
Thank you for joining us. Don’t forget to subscribe to CreativeMind Soul Sessions. Join us next week as we explore another deep topic where you can consciously create your life with CreativeMind Soul Sessions. See you next time.