An approach to spirituality
by Swami Prasad Sharma
(Dona Paula, Goa, India)
An approach to spirituality – Part I
Development of wisdom to distinguish real from unreal or eternal from temporary, concentration, self-realization, freedom from ego, peace of mind, love and compassion are aspects of spirituality.
When we talk about wisdom one happens to recall one’s position in society or various academic degrees that serve the purpose of getting a job for livelihood and/or name and fame. No doubt most of us think about wisdom in terms of good earning, status, reputation, name and fame, etc. but these have nothing to do with spirituality or the development of the necessary wisdom to lead us on the path of spirituality.
Wisdom starts when one values righteousness in all spheres of life. For overall well-being one has to develop necessary virtues like strength, intellect, education, patience, and kindness (Please see my article - Life is a Kabaddi game). After this one has to make the mind concentrate on one thing at a time for which several techniques (prayers, meditation, gazing on a bright object, whirling, etc.) are prescribed by the wise persons and these should be attempted under proper guidance.
Wisdom leads one to not indulge in fleeting pleasures or false achievements and living a peaceful life. Wisdom is best developed through study of the scriptures and thinking over their contents and practicing those ideals in life. Behind each objective there has to be a feeling of doing good to others, including family members. People may demand you to pursue objectives for which you may not consider yourself to be a fit person. In such a case you have to be firm in your decision and persuade them, and if they don’t agree with you then you have to proceed your own way, if possible within your means and no dependant being affected. After all you are pursuing your peace of mind.
Concentration is connected with intuition and makes a person look beyond the present based on the given situation and the wisdom achieved. One is able to differentiate good from bad and judge what is helpful in achieving one’s goal. However, for practicing concentration one should be free from physical ailments. Indian yogasanas (physical postures with breathe control) are part of spirituality and are helpful in taming the mind from wandering on temporary gains.
Concentration combined with wisdom gradually leads one to self-realization. One realizes the life force that is present in each one of us and also understands that due to ego we remain distinct from each other.
Naturally, this is the situation where our knowledge leads us. Now our body that is
provided by nature becomes to the soul the embodiment of love and compassion and this tendency spreads among associates and others who come in contact with us.
An approach to spirituality – Part II
Let us presume that life has a hidden purpose and it happens knowingly or unknowingly. One desiring to enjoy worldly life may find himself poverty stricken, and another wishing a renounced life is caught in an affluent society. In the first case, the person is becoming worldly and in the other case he is trying to get rid of the entangled condition. These are the two extreme conditions of mind and in both cases sufferings exist. Therefore, most of us are desirous to know what is in store for us.
We always want favourable conditions to prevail in our lives. For this we may consult astrologers who may claim to guide perfectly. They have suggestions to alleviate misfortune. First, one should be able to approach a genuine person with faith and then follow his instructions to ward off impending misfortune in store (supposing fortune is not a problem!).
If one happens to reach a saint, what will he advise to a disgusted person? “Let the worst thing happen to you; just surrender to God and seek protection from him. Then you will realize His greatness as a perfect guide.” Such an easy assurance very few people will follow. The reason is ego, manifesting in the mind as an illusion. Saints never try to change the situation but rather suggest accepting it as an opportunity.
It seems we have forgotten one aspect of life, for whatever reason. And that is: “We should treat others the way we would like to be treated.” Since we desire distinction, to avoid equality we have divided ourselves in various groups on the basis of wealth, strength, status, intellect, etc. One may be following certain rituals, pilgrimage, observing fasts, etc. and claim one’s superiority in front of saints even! Saints will laugh away such an attitude. The reason, God needs no other thing from you but expects that you should treat His creation with feelings of love and brotherhood. Even a mortal father expects the same among his several sons.
Being conscious of any kind of worldly wisdom may bring temporary gains but certainly not eternal gains. Humbleness, compassion, assurance of protection, eradication of evils, an attitude of brotherhood, etc. are unique qualities to make earthly life better.
These are the qualities that make one become the embodiment of renunciation and love (a spiritual man) and a well-wisher of mankind in the real sense.