Why I Wrote This Book
Taken from the Preface of
“So you’re a spiritual being—now what?”
Spirituality is becoming widespread and being sought out by people from all backgrounds and cultures. The growing popularity of yoga, meditation, spiritual retreats, self-help and personal empowerment books and programs, and self-professed gurus all point to this trend.
Along with all this, there has been much confusion about common spiritual concepts. Words such as soul, spirit, and spiritual are used and interpreted differently. For instance, what is my soul? Am I the soul or do I have a soul? If I am a soul, why are we called “spiritual beings” and not “soulful beings”? What’s the difference between soul and spirit? Have you wondered what people mean when they say, “Tap into your spirit” and “Ask what your spirit is saying”? If I am a spiritual being, then who is the “I” who is asking “my” spirit?
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.”When I first heard it a few years ago, it felt surprisingly good.
Isn’t it funny how once a new phrase or song catches your attention, you find others around you echoing it? As I heard this phrase quoted repeatedly by various teachers, speakers, and authors in the self-help, spiritual, and personal development field, I began to feel uneasy. I didn’t hear any explanation of why we are spiritual beings, only that we are. I was eager for a better understanding of what these speakers and teachers meant.
Previously, my strong interest in New Age spirituality led me to readily accept most of what I read and heard. But then, I began to see things in the light of new knowledge. This new knowledge was Vedanta (pronounced vay-DHAAN-ta), a spiritual science that originates from an ancient wisdom tradition from India. Studying the spiritual truths taught by the Vedantic masters, I began to think more deeply and question what I had easily accepted before.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was one clear set of definitions in the spiritual field so everyone who hears the words soul or spirit for instance, would know exactly what they mean? The understanding would be based on facts and not colored by religious beliefs or cultural upbringing.Vedanta provides that clarity.
Early one morning, as I sat quietly by myself, I took out my journal, turned to a fresh page and wrote the words “You’re a spiritual being.” Suddenly, a question popped into my mind:“Now what?” And with that came a barrage of other questions: “What is a spiritual being?” “What is spirit?” “What does it mean tobe spiritual?” “As a spiritual being, what am I supposed to be doing?” “What is spiritual growth and the spiritual journey?” “Can we prove that we are spiritual beings?”My research into the answers as they are found in Vedanta eventually became some of the topics of this book.
I have learned Vedanta as it was taught by my guru, Swami Chinmayananda, and his disciples. He was an outstanding teacher with a masterful ability to break down complex concepts into simple ideas through examples from daily life and with humor. His method of teaching Vedanta is the bedrock of this book. I owe my utmost gratitude to him. Wherever I have mentioned “Gurudev,” please know that I’m referring to Swami Chinmayananda. (“Gurudev” is a reverential way to address one’s guru.)
My knowledge has come from about twenty years of listening to the teachings directly from the mouths of teachers, through self-study, and personal reflection. Since 2003, I’ve been actively participating in Vedanta study groups and in 2008, I began taking structured online Vedanta courses provided by the Chinmaya International Foundation in India. I’ve also studied some simple Sanskrit, the ancient language in which the spiritual teachings are written.
As you read this book, I hope that you will see me as a fellow spiritual seeker who is sharing her learning with you. Whether you are new to the spiritual path, already a seasoned traveler, or just curious, my hope is that you’ll get a fresh viewpoint and gather some practical tools and tips to take on your personal journey.
Watch out for the book to be published in the summer of 2019. Please stay tuned!