The moment one questions the validity of the pursuits one has been following, one becomes a seeker and embarks on the spiritual path. —Swami Chinmayananda
You begin seeking on your spiritual path when you start to question your life and pursuits. You ask: What is my life about? Why am I not happy? Why am I doing what I’m doing right now? Is this something that I really want? Can I ever be completely happy?
You will certainly find some relief through everyday solutions such as changing your line of work, improving your lifestyle, relationships or health. But the spiritual masters tell us that the real cause of our unhappiness lies in the forgetfulness of our innate spiritual nature.
We are spiritual beings on an evolutionary journey through lifetimes. We have forgotten our eternal, blissful spiritual essence and live identified with our impermanent and easily stressed human personalities.
The masters tells is that when we come to realize our true Self within, all our worldly sorrows will come to an end. We will gain permanent happiness and total fulfillment in life.
The importance of keeping regular spiritual company on your spiritual path
The first step on your spiritual path begins with questioning your pursuits. You embark on your spiritual path when you actively seek the answers through spirituality. The best way is keeping spiritual company every day.
What exactly is spiritual company? Satsang, the Sanskrit word for “spiritual company” explains this.
And so, satsang means being associated with truth, or that which is good and noble.
Keeping spiritual company is considered “good” because it brings peace of mind, and “noble” because it promotes your spiritual growth.
You can engage in spiritual company by listening to talks given by spiritual teachers, meeting with other like-minded people to discuss spirituality, or reading and learning from spiritual books on your own.
You can attend regular services at a place of worship where people gather to pray, sing devotional hymns, and read from holy books.
Regular satsang gives you the higher knowledge of life and inspiration to handle adversity with greater equanimity and strength.
Building resilience to life’s unexpected and inevitable blows makes as much sense as planning for your financial security to tide you through future seen and unforeseen circumstances. You must have a healthy balance in your emotional bank account. And, you must build it before calamity strikes.
Without regular spiritual company, hardships and challenges can make you bitter instead of better.
Inspiration from saint Kabir
He taught through soulful songs and provocative poetry that questioned the values, beliefs, and practices of the people of his time.
Kabir’s poetry provides powerful doses of satsang to wake us up from our spiritual slumber. His wisdom is relevant even today. I share some of his insights in this article.
In one of Kabir’s songs, he likens us to fish who are looking for water because they think they are thirsty. How can a fish who lives in water, is surrounded by water and continuously taking in water for oxygen, say that it is thirsty? It’s both laughable and absurd.
Similarly, even though we are blissful spiritual beings, we have forgotten our innate divinity and are looking for happiness in the outer world.
The body is like woven cloth said Kabir
Kabir came from a family of weavers and he often compared the body to woven cloth or a sheet (chaderiya).
The human body also takes about the same amount of time to form in the womb. It is a beautiful and supremely brilliant product of nature.
What sets us apart from the other species in the animal kingdom is our highly developed intellect.
Kabir tells us that having gotten this fine, precious body for a short sojourn on earth, we must use it wisely and with good care.
To grow on the spiritual path, the mind must be purified of selfishness, lust, attachments, anger, greed, conceit, jealousy, and other such negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
Kabir advises us to nurture noble intentions and emotions such as love, patience, forgiveness, and humility.
He advises us to convert our work into worship by dedicating what we do and the results we get to God.
Why dedicate to the divine? It is this divine higher power that has given us our body, mind, senses, and the ability to perform actions. Not offering our actions would be being mean and ungrateful, he says.
Another potent way to purify the mind and grow on our spiritual path is to chant a mantra or the holy names of God. Kabir repeats this advice in many of his songs.
As we purify the mind through these ways, it becomes stronger and gains poise. Our questions will begin to decrease we will be better able to remain balanced through the ups and downs of life.
If loving and serving others, and learning and growing on the spiritual path are not done, it would be a wasted life, says Kabir.
In one of his songs, he says that when we were born, we cried while others around us celebrated with joy. Let us learn to brightly colour our “cloth” and live in such a way that when we die, we should go happily leaving others in grief for losing us.
He laments that we often misuse our precious gifts. He says we soil the “cloth” we have been given by focusing our energies on achieving selfish goals. We waste our short lives pursuing fleeting pleasures through our senses, totally missing the real treasure of bliss within.
Kabir compares us to the musk deer who goes mad looking outside for the source of the musk fragrance, which lies in a gland within its own belly.
Cultivating the right knowledge on your spiritual path
Kabir advises us to sow the seeds of right knowledge so that when the rains come, they will sprout.
What this means is that we must strive to cultivate a good understanding of the spiritual truths of life. They will germinate into wisdom that will help us to handle life’s challenges and grow from them.
Kabir tells us not to deny or dispute any religion. The scriptures are not false. A lack of understanding of the principles or a misinterpretation of them is the problem. Those who have not contemplated on the teachings and are propagating falsehoods or misunderstandings are the ones at fault.
As you walk on your spiritual path, it’s important that you stay open and respectful of the teachings and practices of all faiths. They lead to the same goal—God or the Truth. The essence of a religion is to unite us with that truth.
Kabir tells us the Truth expresses in all as love. If the practices don’t help to cultivate love for God or others, they are not authentic.
Very often, people blindly follow the practices without understanding the underlying principles.
The outer practices, the garb and lifestyle of a religion are meant to give a sense of identity to a people to better practice the tenets of a religion. These outer expressions are secondary and are merely the means to achieve the greater goal of inner peace and purification.
Each religion provides solutions to meeting life’s challenges and ways of worshipping God in its own unique way. (It’s interesting to note that the Sanskrit term for religion is matam, which means “opinion”.)
Holding on to the spiritual truth of being one with all, you may find great value in practicing the religion you were born into or choose to adopt.
If you are not finding guidance for living a happy life in your religion, you may want to look beyond the outer practices, rituals and dogma and seek out the beauty of the spiritual teachings that lie within.
Put your heart into growing on your spiritual path
Your inner evolution begins when you start questioning your pursuits and seeking answers through spiritual company or satsang.
Satsang with the words of the saints and masters like Kabir brings you the right knowledge that helps to wake you up to living a higher, nobler life. It inspires you to drop negative qualities and cultivate noble traits to help you grow on your spiritual path.
As you grow, you develop a love and commitment for the path. You understand that the “faults” in religion are merely misunderstandings propagated by people who haven’t reflected well enough on the teachings. You start to seek out the principles behind the practices and grow through them.
Staying steadfast on your spiritual path requires that you put your heart into your inner growth. When you do, you are surely on the right path. In fact, there are no real pitfalls. Every attempt brings you closer to unfolding the beauty of your blissful spiritual essence.
Like this post? Sign up for the free fortnightly Spiritual Solutions Newsletter and receive the latest articles, news and updates in your email inbox!
Images of Kabir, Cotton and Baby designed by Freepik