Do you consider yourself spiritual? Are you clear on your path and purpose?
With the various teachers, coaches and self-professed gurus out there offering a plethora of different views and paths, are you totally confused?
You are not alone.
Jumping on the spiritual bandwagon
Spirituality is becoming widespread and being sought out by people from all backgrounds and cultures. More and more people are taking up yoga, meditation, self-help and personal empowerment programs, practices in mindfulness, and going on silent retreats.
Before jumping on the spiritual bandwagon, it’s important to grasp the basics of spirituality. It’s not a good idea to simply take up some practices without an understanding of the full picture.
Here are some facts you must know if you consider yourself spiritual:
1. Your source for spiritual knowledge must be authentic and reliable
Whether you are new on the spiritual path or already a seasoned traveller, the most important thing to have is a credible source of knowledge. There’s a ton of information out there. Not all of it is reliable or even true.
The best sources for spiritual knowledge are authentic spiritual texts and spiritual masters who have personally lived and realized the knowledge within those texts.
You can find spiritual knowledge in all the wisdom traditions of the world, including the science of Vedanta. (The concepts in this article and website come from Vedanta)
Vedanta is a systematically organized, comprehensive body of knowledge on spirituality. It provides concepts, definitions, and explanations. You can read more about Vedanta here. *
2. You’re not “going” anywhere in your spiritual journey
When you put in efforts to grow spiritually, you are described as being “on the path” or on a “spiritual journey.”
However, it isn’t about physically going somewhere. It’s not a journey in time and place.
It’s an inner ripening or maturing in which you grow in consciousness.
Through your efforts to evolve spiritually, your responses to life become increasingly peaceful and harmonious. You’re able to stay even-minded and not allow the outer world to disturb your inner quietude.
3. You’re not who you think you are
You may have read or heard this quote by the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
If you can accept this fact, then you will accept that your essential nature is pure spirit. Your human body and mind are simply tools that you use to evolve spiritually through your life experiences.
4. You are a spiritual being, and you can prove it yourself
You have both an apparent identity and an essential nature. Your apparent identity arises out of your identification with your changing body, emotions, and thoughts.
But your essential nature—spirit, remains the inner witness, unchanged and untouched by these changes.
Here’s a simple way to demonstrate the presence of this inner witness:
In your mind’s eye, picture yourself in the various stages of your life: preschooler, child, teenager, and adult. See every decade of your life up till now. Try to remember what you looked like. Note what experiences stand out in your mind.
As you look back, notice that there’s an “I” that has remained unchanged through the countless inner and outer experiences of your life. This “I” is present right now as you are reading these words. It’s the real you or spirit.
Spirit remains unchanged in the past, present, and in the future. It was present before the personality you was born, it remains even now as you are alive, and will continue to exist even after your personality dies away.
Intuitively, we know that we’re not our bodies. Think about how we describe a person who has died. Don’t we say, “She’s passed away” or “She’s dead and gone”?
Read more in Proof that you are a spiritual being.
5. You are not different from spirit
Vedanta points out that like waves rising, existing and merging back into the ocean, all things and beings are nothing but spirit expressing in different names and forms.
This being so, you cannot be separate from spirit. Spirit is your essential nature. To find out more, read, What is Spirit?
6. Being spiritual isn’t about what you do
Do you think that being spiritual means doing certain things such as yoga, breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditating?
While these are spiritual practices, being spiritual isn’t only about what you do; it begins with how you see your life. Your vision then guides your actions.
What is the spiritual vision? Vedanta asserts that all of creation is permeated by one spiritual essence. Although outwardly there appear to be differences or separation between objects and beings, intrinsically, there are none. All are different expressions of one spirit. This truth of oneness is the highest spiritual truth.
The principle of oneness underlies a holistic view of life. You understand that your choices and actions in one area affect your whole life. Therefore, a holistic view is a spiritual view. Read How a holistic view is a spiritual view.
When you affirm a holistic or spiritual approach, you nurture all aspects of your life: You take care of your physical health and environment, cultivate loving relationships, develop noble emotions and virtues such as compassion, humility, forgiveness, and self-control. You take some time daily to read and study spiritual literature and increase your understanding and view of life.
7. Unfolding your true nature is your spiritual goal
Your goal is to use your worldly life and experiences to evolve and gradually uncover your innately spiritual nature.
All disciplines and practices aimed at living up to the vision of oneness promote this inner unfoldment.
They will prepare your mind to be suitably quiet and single-pointed for meditation. It is in meditation that you will rediscover your essential spiritual Self.
8. Spirituality and religion are interconnected
Just as the raw ingredients in cooking are the fundamental components in any dish, spiritual truths form the basis of all religions.
Spirituality and religion can go hand in hand and you don’t have to choose one over the other. Read Can you be both spiritual and religious?
Once you’ve gained a better understanding of the basics, now what?
What are the daily habits, disciplines and practices that you can adopt to grow spiritually?
Continue your reading with my upcoming article on June 27, 2019: 5 Ways That Guarantee Your Spiritual Growth.
*An excellent basic book on Vedanta is Self Unfoldment by Swami Chinmayananda.
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