Why I Wrote This Book

Taken from the Preface of
Your Spiritual Journey

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? 

         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. I started looking for the answers to these questions in Vedanta (pronounced vay-DHAAN-ta). Vedanta is a spiritual science that originates from an ancient wisdom tradition from India.

         As I delved deeper, more questions came to my mind: “What does it mean to be spiritual?” “What is a spiritual being?” “What is spirit?” “What is the mindset of a spiritual person?” “If I say I’m spiritual and not religious, what are the core practices I must adopt?” “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 more than 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.

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Manisha Melwani

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