Sunday, 5 October 2014

Spiritual Journey

In response to my status in the Face book regarding my blog “True happiness”, Kumar, my young nephew in U.S. commented “--- when the blood has vigour it becomes difficult to comprehend these sayings”.   Happy that he has taken an interest to read through the blog and comment on it, I commented back as follows giving the gist of the blog. “In simple words what it says is "the happiness that comes of inaction (Tamas) and the one that comes of action (Rajas) are transient and so not true happiness. But the happiness that comes of inaction in action i.e. wisdom (Satva) that your Real Self is not the doer or enjoyer but only the witness is permanent and so is the True happiness". Pat came back his further comment with a question “Thanks for the explanation.....getting it...true happiness is possible only when we get enlightenment. how does a common man get enlightened and what are the different milestones....I believe there is no destination point for that journey”  I replied back as “One can start on the spiritual journey by moving from being world-centred to God-centred slowly. God here is any Ishta devata, on which you can focus without effort. Once you choose, stick to it without being fanatic about it. Just be sincere and serious in your effort and leave the rest to Him.”  But I did not feel satisfied as the expressions ‘God-centred and world-centred’ were too general.  So I decided to write a little more on spiritual journey in this blog.

First thing is to make clear what ‘being spiritual’ means, as more often than not it is mistaken for ‘being religious’.  Both are based on strong faith in God or the Divine principle behind the world, also referred to as Brahman, but they are of different dimensions due to areas of emphasis. In ‘being religious’, the emphasis is on observance of rituals and procedures of worship and so there is a body orientation, with do’s, don’ts, rules and regulations with regard to food, dress marriage and other social disciplines.  ‘Being spiritual’ is of a different dimension where the focus is on knowing about God and His creation, seeking Him and experiencing Him.  And so the emphasis here is on disciplines that ensure purity of mind, subtlety of intellect and the resultant jnanam and attitude change and so there is more of a mind orientation, mind including intellect, as both are two phases of Anthakaranam, inner organ. 

Before embarking on spiritual path we are all world-centred.  Our main interest is on worldly pleasures, possessions and relationships.  Our ego defines our individuality and our actions and thoughts are governed by ego. God is in our life, but only for a brief moment during prayer at home or in occasional satsang or during a visit to temple, where we seek something for us or for people close to us or where we seek to avoid something for us or for people close to us.  We blame everybody else including God, for things going wrong with us.  We want to change everything else and everybody else except ourselves.  In contrast when we become God – centred, God-consciousness underpins all our thoughts and actions. In fact the priority shifts away from material pursuits and our prayers also reflect it.  We seek His Grace only at all times for our spiritual advancement.  Even the material benefits we seek are to equip ourselves better for pursuing the spiritual interests.  The ego is defanged as dehabhimana takes a back seat, yielding place to God-consciousness.  We take responsibility for our actions and inwardly blame ourselves only and not blame others for things going wrong with us. We understand that when we change, the world also changes for us, and so any change should start from us only.

Our efforts to achieve the shift in priorities constitute the spiritual journey.  Karma yoga, Bhakthi yoga, Upasana yoga, Raja yoga are the various sadhanas in this path.  But the journey does not stop with one becoming God-centred.  It is continued until one realizes through Jnana Yoga that his true Self is God only and that all of us in creation, though separated by body-mind-complexes are in essence one only i.e. God only.  When emphasising separateness we are thinking like the wave that thought that it was different from other waves because of its height and depth, time of rise and fall without realising that all waves and ocean are one only in essence, the essence being water.  So all of us in the world, whatever be our colour, sex and religion are one only in essence, essence being God.  When this realization dawns one accepts everything that happens to him with equanimity, judging no one and blaming no one, not even himself for anything going wrong. 

Sri Nochur Venkatraman narrates an incident in Ramana Maharishi’s life, which can be recalled here.  Once one householder came to Maharishi and was narrating his woes for nearly an hour. Maharishi was silently listening, without speaking a word.  Then another devotee tried to console him by remarking that the householder is like a person standing on the banks of Ganges and crying he is thirsty.  Maharishi immediately corrected the devotee by saying it is like Ganga itself crying it is thirsty, implying that the householder is as much divine as Maharishi himself.  If one after realization of his inner Divinity can stay steadfast like this in the inner conviction of the essential Divinity of one and all at all times as well, then that person can be said to have arrived at the end of the journey:
Journey from Aham, aham –---> Daso’ham –---------> So’ham.

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