An Integrated Approach To Spiritual Growth;
Sixteen Ways To Meditate

By Albert A. Haust III


In the 1980’s, I was involved with a spiritual group that was based on nondual teachings such as Advaita Vedanta and Chan Buddhism. Interpretations vary, but nondual teachings contend that individuality is an illusion and there is only one self, which has the nature of pure awareness. The guru of the group I was involved with used to say that if a person really wants to become enlightened, then he or she would do so. I used to ask fellow group members if they want to become enlightened immediately, and they would answer yes, yet they did not become enlightened in the way that the guru I speak of defined enlightenment.

I found this fact interesting and puzzling. When I considered the matter for myself, my responses varied. Sometimes while meditating I felt as if I wanted to become enlightened. Sometimes I felt afraid to do so. Sometimes I experienced mental dullness that prevented me from knowing whether or not I wanted to become enlightened. The latter two occurrences happened for the same reason. I was afraid to become enlightened because I viewed enlightenment according to the above guru’s definitions, and as I stated earlier, he said that individuality is just an illusion, there is only one self. He also stated that the mind aspect of being has nothing to do with who we are, because we are only pure awareness. Because I figured that some being claimed the right to be the one self that exists long ago, I concluded that enlightenment would not be a good thing for me, because it would mean that I would become nonexistent. False definition factor aside, it could be that some of my fellow group members did not become enlightened according to the guru’s definitions of enlightenment because somewhere inside at a level they were not conscious of they understood that enlightenment meant that they would have to stop experiencing themselves as unique beings. After all, how could they continue to exist as aware beings if some being claimed dibs on being the lone one self that exists? I figure that if my fellow group members were conscious of what I just said, then they would have told me that they did not want to become enlightened immediately. That is unless they were interested in spiritual suicide. I did not get the impression that this is what they had in mind.

Another reason I was opposed to becoming enlightened in the way the above guru defined enlightenment is because he claimed that in truth we are only pure awareness. He also used to say that our minds have nothing to do with who we are. This troubled me because I figured that if I obtained a state where I could no longer think, then I could no longer make decisions. Therefore, even if I ended up being the only self that exists, I would not have a way to change my way of being, because an act of will, volition, requires the ability to think.

Thank goodness I eventually found out that the above guru was not the transcendent master he claimed. I also found out that other gurus I knew about and was influenced by were not beyond being wrong about spiritual matters. This enabled me to gain mental freedom from some of the principles they advocated, and accordingly I was able to think freely. It is difficult to think freely when you believe the principle you believe in is beyond being wrong, because it comes from a person who is supposedly beyond being wrong about spiritual matters.

Through various spiritual experiences and means of discovery, I found that each of us does have an eternal soul, yet we are one with everything else. I found that the mind and creative aspects of my being are a part of who I am, just as is the awareness aspect. This is so because the awareness, mind, and creative aspects of being cannot be separated from each other. You might as well try to separate wetness from water.

Since I found out that my uniqueness and the uniqueness of everybody else is not opposed to oneness and that it is not a problem to have the mind aspect of being, I have been able to continue growing spiritually, and my life has become more joyful. I now understand that a wonderful and eternal future awaits all of us. There is much to be happy about.

Within this book I share some of the things that have helped me grow spiritually. I have found out what works for me. I believe what I found will be helpful, in varying degrees, to others. Even though I have gained much wisdom during my spiritual seeking, I am not beyond being wrong, so I do not expect anyone to just take my word for it. So please do not do so.

At times I speak of principles that come from spiritual teachings that differ from what I say. When I do so I do not mean to be disrespectful of other teachings and the paths of others. I have chosen to speak of the differences that exist even though I am weary of being disrespectful of others, because I believe I can more thoroughly make the points I want to make if I do so. For example, it would be difficult to thoroughly explain why the mind aspect of our being is not as much of a problem as some spiritual teachers make it out to be, if I did not explain why I believe some of the points they make are false.