The Higher Spiritual Path, by William Wilson Quinn (www.o-books.com)
The pivotal Sanskrit terms nirvāna and moksha are defined, or have otherwise been written about, in various ways. Yet most of their definitions, or descriptions, can only be approximations of the sublime reality conveyed by these terms. This is because both refer to a metaphysical state of being, common to the discourse of traditional Buddhism and Hinduism respectively, which is transcendental and unconditional, and so cannot accurately be circumscribed by language, or even by thought.
It is effectively a state of eternal bliss (ānanda) that may only be entered by the spiritual wayfarer or initiate when, after numerous incarnations whose last few have included treading the higher spiritual path, he or she is liberated: released forever on this physical plane from the wheel of death and rebirth and all its attendant suffering.
Unique to the Buddhist religion is a traditional and scripturally based difference of perspectives arising from an ultimate choice that confronts the spiritually advanced person who has achieved what in Pāli is known as vimutti. This word is typically defined as “deliverance” or “release,” and refers narrowly to the event of liberation from the wheel of death and rebirth.
This choice that promptly follows vimutti, then, is whether such a liberated being should choose immediate entry into nirvāna, or choose to defer it. This choice is based upon the question of whether it is preferable (i) to proceed into the bliss of nirvāna, evermore beyond the pale of suffering in a bodily or physical existence, or (ii) to intentionally and voluntarily defer–in fact, sacrifice–immediate reintegration into that blissful state of oneness in order to serve others. In contrast to choosing the bliss of nirvāna, the choice or sacrifice of its deferment entails remaining incarnate in a bodily or physical existence (or at least in a state that is not nirvāna) and continuing to suffer the vicissitudes of samsāra (the transient world of illusion and suffering) in order to help other human beings achieve vimutti, or liberation.
Moreover, the vast duration of this sacrifice extends to the point in human spiritual evolution where ultimately all human beings have at last achieved liberation. Only then may he or she who has elected to make this sacrifice–who has elected to follow the path of the bodhisattva–finally enter the nirvanic state having fulfilled this sacred promise to help all other sentient beings achieve that goal.
The former path of immediate entrance into nirvāna upon one’s liberation is described in Buddhist terms as that of the pratekya Buddha. The latter path of voluntarily deferring this blissful reward in order to alleviate the suffering of others and help them to achieve liberation, is described in Buddhist terms as that of the bodhisattva. These two paths are significantly different, and the choice of either path points to the basic nature and character of each spiritual aspirant who chooses. That of the pratekya Buddha who immediately enters nirvāna indicates a resolute and diligent adherent of the dharma and practitioner of all those virtues set forth in the Buddhist “eightfold path,” being the last of the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha, without any need for further spiritual or occult training.
The choice of the path of the bodhisattva coexists with the ascent of the wayfarer or initiate on the higher spiritual path, and together these indicate a sacrificial and compassionate nature. This path requires extraordinary strength and courage, and a willingness to undergo rigorous training in mastering the forces of Nature both prior to achieving vimutti, and even after. Such training is a requirement in order for new initiates to operate more effectively and efficiently in order to succeed in bringing more light to the “great orphan,” or humanity, during the long remainder of their existences in the physical realm, even while having been liberated from it.
It is important to note here that while we may have been using Buddhist terms and textual references so far in our discussion, this profound subject in actual fact describes a universal choice among all advanced spiritual seekers and esotericists worldwide, Buddhist or otherwise, who have advanced to that point in their long spiritual journeys. It is because Buddhist terms to describe this choice are convenient–because they already exist–that they are used here. But we cannot emphasize strongly enough that this choice, and these paths, are universal and therefore applicable to all those who tread the higher spiritual path regardless of religion, ethnicity or race….
Those seekers of higher spiritual truth, those wayfarers, who succeed in making this climb from the base of the metaphoric spiritual pyramid to its apex will there encounter special teachers–gurus–who, like themselves, also succeeded in ascending the summit of this difficult, momentous climb. These elect teachers are able to instruct the newly successful wayfarers in the more esoteric and extensive truths or realities of the universe, of nature in its totality, that may not have been accessible to their former religious or spiritual teachers who guided them at the outset of their sacred journeys.
These venerable teachers, found at this apex, form a brother/sister-hood of Adepts comprised of a diverse and extraordinarily select group of men and women that one would not ordinarily find in any orthodox religious community. Collectively, these Adepts form a spiritual hierarchy of humanity, having achieved highly advanced levels of spiritual awareness and consciousness and capability through lifetimes of study, training, ordeal, and sacrifice. The non-denominational and eternal spiritual truths and principles taught by these Adepts are those of what in Latin is termed the philosophia perennis.
Access to interaction with and ultimately discipleship of these Adepts is not easy. This is so because the key to this access lies solely in the hands of the aspiring wayfarer, who alone must achieve an exceptional level of purification and be endowed with an indefeasible strength and determination in order to gain this access.
When the resolute wayfarer ascending the pyramid’s apex has become spiritually pure and thoroughly selfless, and commands enough courage and strength, the way will open. This milestone is normally marked by the wayfarer formally becoming an accepted chela, and so beginning a personal chela-guru relationship with one of the Adepts. But up to that life-changing point, one such Adept wrote, consistent with their extreme reclusivity, that “We rarely show any outward signs by which to be recognized or sensed.” Fortunately for those for whom this goal has not been realized, but for whom it may be proximate, there exists considerable guidance and instruction on how interaction with these Adepts may be commenced–and maintained–by treading the higher spiritual path.
The Higher Spiritual Path by William Wilson Quinn is available from www.o-books.com and from wherever books are sold.