Spiritual Essays #18

by Jayaram V

Summary: This is about the essential principles of your basic spirituality and how you can put them to practice in worldly life.


Every religion has a political, social, cultural and personal dimension. The first three depend upon the last, since a religion is strong and popular only when it is practiced by its people. The personal dimension of any religion has two aspects, the ritual and spiritual. The ritual dimension makes it popular while the spiritual dimension gives it depth and sustaining power. The spiritual dimension is far more important in the long run because it builds inner strength and helps its adherents stay strong and resolute amidst problems and difficulties.

When you practice your religion, you breathe life into it, which in turn elevates your character and conduct and illuminates your life. When a large number of people practice their faith, it becomes a powerful force of change both within and without. Religions have transformed communities and helped in the advancement of civilizations, although at times they failed to unite people or prevent wars and bloodshed. They have no value, unless they elevate human consciousness and change our thinking and attitude for individual and common good. It is possible only when they are put to right use. In other words, the onus of making any religion good or bad eventually depends upon us. Since religions are such powerful forces of change, it is essential that we bring their spiritual teachings into focus and use them for our own good.

The principles of basic spirituality

Hinduism survived these millenniums not because of any particular institution or political power but because of the will of its people and the strength of their faith. Caste played an important role in keeping the community and preserving the family traditions, although it also contributed to internal divisions, inequality and social injustice.

More importantly, Hinduism survived because of its spiritual base, and the wide range of solutions or alternatives it offers to people to practice their faith and cope with their problems. It also provides a vision of life that stretches beyond the current life of each living being into eternity through numerous births and rebirths with liberation as the final resort and ultimate solution to the problem of suffering.

A religion has better chances of surviving the ravages of time, when it has a strong spiritual side and when people practise it without any external motivation. In this discussion we will focus upon the principles of basic spirituality for worldly people from the modern perspective, which are an integral part of the Hindu way of life, and how anyone can use them or express them in his or her daily life.

Faith

Faith means faith in your essential spirituality and your spiritual destiny. The scriptures say that you are an eternal being, but do you sincerely believe in it? The first step in practicing spirituality is to acknowledge that you are a spiritual entity and identify yourself with it rather than with your body, name, fame, status, linguistic group, region, profession, caste and so on. Most of the time we confuse the ego for the Self. The ego is the outer crust on the Self. It needs to be dissolved before you can truly be your spiritual Self. The idea that you are an eternal, indestructible Self, must be firmly implanted in your mind, without which you cannot truly practise your faith or adhere to its values. If you think that you are a human, you will remain a human. If you think you are a divine entity, you will gradually be so, and your thinking and attitude will also change in proportion to the strength of your conviction. Hence, our scriptures suggest that we must constantly think about the Self and become fixed in that thought. For that faith is important.

Character

Character is the sum of mental and moral qualities that are approved by society at large. It is your essential nature, personality, or the sum of what you are and what you think you are. Character comes from the purity of thought and intention. You must be inherently good to have the right character and attitude. Your character is well reflected in your thinking and behavior, and in your responses and attitudes. It is built on the foundation of virtues such as compassion, truthfulness, honesty, humility, etc. You should avoid causing hurt or harm to others with your words or actions, or taking what does not truly belong to you. You should be truthful to those who are closest to you and who matter to you, keep your promises and honor your commitments. Whatever values your faith upholds as aspects of God, you must uphold them too. You must also show respect for your tradition and values, which arise from it. Our tradition says that one must respect gods, elders, seers, teachers, parents, ancestors, morality, duty, sacrifice, the Self within and the God above. If you see God in all, you will inherently respect everything. The Bhagavadgita says that the self is both the friend and enemy of the self. Hence, you should avoid sabotaging your life with self-destructive behavior.

Judgment

Judgment is the ability to make intelligent and thoughtful decisions. Your destiny and the course of your life depend upon the decisions you make or do not make. In a sense, your opinions, assumptions, notions, beliefs and conclusions are also judgments only, and they too influence your thinking, behavior and your judgment. Your judgment depends upon your discernment or the ability to separate things from one another and know them as they are. Our scriptures say that if you are pure, your mind will be pure and your discernment will also be pure. For that, you must practise atma-samyama or self-control. This is true even from the perspective of modern psychology. To cultivate the purity of mind, you must practise detachment, sameness, equanimity and self-restraint. In silence, you become a better observer. Hence, spiritual people regularly practise silence. When you have these, you will use your judgment to know people and discern things. It is also important that you use your judgment to make wise decisions rather than to criticize people or judge them from a high moral ground.

Duty

Duty is the sum of your responsibilities and obligations as a human being, as a member of your family, society or the world, and as a practitioner of your faith. In life you have many duties and obligations. You cannot neglect them, ignore them or avoid them, however difficult they may and whatever the consequences may be. From the Bhagavadgita we learn that if you have faith and inclination, it will be much easier to perform difficult tasks without fear or doubt and stay on course. Since actions have consequences, you must be careful with what attitude you engage in actions. It is better to perform them as a service to others or as an obligation to God or as part of your spiritual practice, whether you like them or not. If you strengthen your faith in your spiritual identity, and perform your actions as a spiritual entity, your actions will not bind you. Therefore, whatever you do, do them with the awareness that you are an eternal Self and you have a higher spiritual destiny.

Vision

Your vision is the sum of your knowledge, beliefs and expectations. It is what you want to see ahead of you, what you want to achieve in life and where you would like to focus your mind and energies. If your vision is broader, you will have more opportunities to improve yourself and cultivate qualities that make you an exceptional person and lead you to excellence. It also gives you fortitude and tolerance to absorb suffering and sustain your faith and strength in difficulties. On the path of spirituality, your ultimate aim should be to cultivate the vision of God, to see all in yourself and yourself in all. The first step towards that goal is to instill in your mind qualities such as empathy and compassion, so that you can feel other people’s pain and suffering and either help them or avoid causing them further hurt. You may begin it with regard to those who matter to you and whose happiness you cherish.

Service

We are by nature selfish. Unfortunately, selfishness and spirituality do not go together. You are either selfish or spiritual but cannot be both at the same time. You may practise spirituality for selfish reasons, but it has its own negative repercussions which will do you more harm than good. Our scriptures equate selfishness with evil and consider it the source of all evil in creation. According to them any actions which you perform with selfish desires are sinful and lead to increased suffering and negative karma. They also suggest that egoism is the cause of selfishness. Hence, if you identify yourself with your mind and body or name and form, you will be selfish, but if you identify yourself with the eternal Self in you, you will gradually transcend your egoism and selfishness. Selfless service and charity are two other virtues, which open your mind to the idea of selflessness. Selfishness exists as long as individuality exists. It cannot be wished away. However, through service and charitable activities and by showing genuine concern for others and their happiness, you can make a beginning and strengthen the idea.

Freedom

Freedom or liberation is our ultimate goal. However, that path is not easy, nor it is for everyone. The first step is to understand what freedom truly means. It is to be free from anything that controls you, limits you, keeps you bound, prevents you, disturbs you, restricts you or incapacitates you. It is freedom from all limitations, fears, desires, expectations and attachments which hold you back from being yourself. That freedom is almost impossible to achieve in worldly life. In worldly life we cannot achieve total freedom, but we can achieve limited mental freedom from worries and anxieties and self-imposed limitations by thinking through problems, resolving our fears, and overcoming our mental blocks. On the spiritual side, one can cultivate detachment and dispassion and learn to let go of things that disturb the mind.

Renunciation

Any religion is just a raft or a boat. It is a means not an end in itself. You should be careful not to let your faith strengthen your ego and give you an air of superiority. Many people become stuck in their religious identities as they begin to enjoy the privileges that come with it. There is a reason why Hinduism is not a religion. We are not supposed to become stuck in religious labels and identities. We should not practice it because of the social or personal privileges it extends to us.

On the spiritual path the social dimension of any religion is a potential obstacle. At some point on the path of liberation we have to leave behind our religious identities and our attachment to it and move on. The purpose of renunciation is essentially the same. We have to leave behind all the excess baggage which we accumulate in our lives and which can potentially interfere with our progress, including our attachment to our religious identities and social privileges such as caste, status or family name. Basic spirituality helps us prepare for such a transition. It helps us live responsibly and pursue the four aims of human life, without compromising our spiritual values or our chances of liberation.

Rosicrucian Reflections #49

“More than ever, it is time for us to move from religiosity to spirituality, which means replacing the sole belief in God with the knowledge of divine laws – that is, universal, natural, and spiritual laws. The well-being we seek, including on a material plane, is to be found in this knowledge and in the wisdom that ensues. An ancient Rosicrucian adage says, “It is from ignorance and ignorance alone that humans must free themselves.” Ignorance is at the origin of the worst things a person can do to oneself, to others, and to one’s environment. It is also the source of different superstitions that demean humanity and prevent it from finding complete fulfillment. Therefore give a spiritual direction to your life. Do not just be a living thing, be a living soul.”

-Rosicrucian Manuscript

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

Seth Kelly Curtis


Selections From The World’s Great Wisdom Traditions #19 The Hindu Tradition

 

 

The Lord, Who is in all things, Is NOT in all thoughts!

“Of the strong, I am the strength devoid of desire and attachment, and in (all) beings,
I am the desire unopposed to Dharma, O Arjuna!” Bhagavad Gita 7:11

“I am that strength which is necessary for the bare sustenance of the body.
I am NOT the strength which generates desire and attachment for sensual objects
as in the case of worldly-minded persons.” Swami Sivananda Saraswati Commentary

This most important verse within the Gita, is also to many the most overlooked and disregarded. For those who fall into this category, the reason is obvious. And their anger when contradicted is also most telling.

In our “modern” times, the fast-food approach to spirituality and religion is a most sought for commodity. This mind-set, technically referred to as Neo-Advaita, is in traditional scripture referred to as pramada – spiritual death. Although the Gita’s fundamental philosophy declares that the Atman does not ever die, the human capacity to reveal and awaken the consciousness of the Atman can be crippled unto death.

The ancient Saintly King Bartruhari, who became an enlightened Sage, used the word pramada in the correct spiritual sense indicated by the Sage Sunat Sujata. He proclaimed:

“Peetva mohamayeem pramada madiram unmatta bhootam jagat”

“This world (its inhabitants therein) has become mad after having drunk the wine of negligence (pramada: laxity towards the spiritual goal), which being of the form of moha (delusion),
has overwhelming power to delude you.” 1

The Sage Sanat Sujata is indicating that the presence of pramada brings about a spiritual death. For the spiritual madness that at first manifests as a fever of willful and angry indifference to the consequences of inattention to and negligence of God, is rendered deadly when it becomes habitual. This madness and anger literally destroys our faculty of discrimination, which before our “disease of pramada” was our guiding light on the path to Godliness.

Sri Krishna clearly states this truth in Chapter 2:63 in the Bhagavad Gita:

“From anger comes delusion; from delusion the loss of memory; from loss of memory the destruction of discrimination;
from the destruction of discrimination he perishes.”

This is not to be defined as forgetfulness of the Self, unless one admits to a willful and belligerent forgetfulness. It is clearly distraction, willfully averting our attention from the consequences of bad habits.

Realization of the Self, as declared by Sri Ramana Maharshi to be the sole goal of life, comes when we overcome and conquer the obstacles that stand before us as enemies in the guise of seemingly insignificant habits. Therefore Bhagavan declares in no uncertain terms:

“The obstacles that hinder realization are habits of the mind (vasanas), and the aids to realization
are the teachings of the scriptures and of realized souls.” 2

The secondary meaning of pramada is procrastination and a distracted laziness, it means not taking any immediate action to rectify this most soul-stripping heedlessness.

One may say: “God’s grace is always there, so somehow I will get back on my spiritual feet.” But the fatality of staying “dead level” without motivation to rise up comes upon us as pramada gives birth to it’s only-begotten son. This offspring of pramada is known in Sanskrit as duragraha. Duragraha means the adamant determination to do that which you know you should never do.

The compound spiritual fracture of being indifferent to God and habitually partaking in negative action with utter disregard for the negative consequences creates a karmic bloodletting fatal even to the strongest constitution.
Regardless of whatever label we choose to call this effort of removing bad habits, whether it be deemed purification, removal of defilement, awakening, being in oneness or even becoming still, it should be known that Bhagavan said it is “effort that instills purity” and stressed that without it the goal of vichara (enquiry) will not be reached.
In direct reference to this Sri Muruganar, one of the foremost direct disciples of Sri Ramana Maharshi, heard the following profound statement from Bhagavan and recorded it that our doubts might be cleared:
“Know that the wondrous jnana vichara is only for those who have attained purity of mind by softening and melting within.
Without this softening and melting away of the mind, brought about by thinking of the feet of the Lord,
the attachment to the “I” that adheres to the body will not cease to be.” 3
Can this “thinking of the feet of the Lord”, prescribed by Bhagavan, be anything other than exactly what it says? Therefore, should we not get busy here and now to “fight the good fight” for spiritual attainment?
Let us leave our battle cry to the General of our forces:
Devotee: “Are we to keep anything against a rainy day; or to live a precarious life for spiritual attainments?”
Maharshi: “God looks after everything.”

 

 

Quaerite Et Invenietis “Seek and you will find”

 

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed”

 

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

 

Keep smiling, keep shining, and always treat animals with love and respect.

Seth Kelly Curtis

Words to Wake Us Up #8

 

 

WISDOM OF MAHATMA GANDHI ON PRAYER AND FAITH IN GOD

 

“If we had attained the full vision of Truth, we would no longer be mere seekers,
but have become one with God, for truth is God…
Prayer has saved my life. Without it I should have been a lunatic long ago.”

“The meaning of prayer is that I want to invoke the Divinity in me. You may describe it as a continual longing to lose myself in the Divinity, which compels us all. Prayer really is a complete meditation and melting into the higher Self, though one may occasionally lapse into it, as a child would call out to its mother “Ah, Ma!” In such an instance, the greater the distance between the child and its Mother, the greater the longing within the heart of the child. Thus, in the mind of the child, the Mother is present in thought. And thought, you know, has a greater velocity than light. Therefore though the distance between Him and me is told to be so incalculably far, in truth He is so very near.

“There is an eternal struggle raging in man’s breast between the powers of darkness and light, and he who has the sheet anchor of prayer to lay upon will not be overcome by the powers of darkness. The man of prayer will be at peace with himself, and with the whole world. The man who moves about the world without a prayerful heart will be miserable, and also will make the world miserable. It is a universal experience that every calamity brings the sensible man down on his knees. Millions of human beings call out for God through prayer, thus the calamities of the world are seen as a means for self-improvement.”

-Gandhi

 

 

Quaerite Et Invenietis “Seek and you will find”

 

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed”

 

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

 

Keep smiling, keep shining.

Seth Kelly Curtis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science of Mind #8

 

 

My Thought is Inspired By the Most High

We should believe that God is the invisible Partner in our lives and affirm that Divine Love goes before us and prepares the way. We should permit ourselves to be guided for there is Something within us, deep at the center of our being, which knows what we ought to do and how we ought to do it.

I am listening to the Divine Presence and permitting It to direct my path. Thoughts and ideas will come to me and I shall be led to follow through on them in my everyday life. I shall be impelled into right action. I know how to meet every situation in calm trust and with the complete conviction that Divine Intelligence is guiding me. I wish to do only that which is constructive and life-giving; therefore, I know that everything I do will prosper. Everything I touch will be quickened into a newness of life and action. Every constructive purpose in my life will be fulfilled.

I have a deep sense of inner calm, a complete assurance that all is well. The same Intelligence that governs the planets in their course is now acting as a Law of Good in my personal experience and in the experience of everyone around me. I do thank God for this increase that is mine. I do accept Divine guidance. I do believe that I am in silent partnership with all the Power, all the Presence, and all the Love there is. I place my life entirely and completely under the protection and guidance of this Power, and I rest in complete assurance that everything I do will prosper.

-Ernest Holmes

 

 

Quaerite Et Invenietis “Seek and you will find”

 

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed”

 

 

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

 

Keep smiling, keep shining.

Seth Kelly Curtis

 

 

Words to Wake Us Up #6

 

 

“It is said that before entering the sea

a river trembles with fear.

 

She looks back at the path she has traveled,

from the peaks of the mountains,

the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

 

And in front of her,

she sees an ocean so vast,

that to enter

there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

 

But there is no other way.

The river can not go back.

 

Nobody can go back.

To go back is impossible in existence.

 

The river needs to take the risk

of entering the ocean,

because only then will fear disappear,

because that’s where the river will know

it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,

but of becoming the ocean.”

-Khalil Gibran

 

 

Quaerite Et Invenietis “Seek and you will find”

 

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed”

 

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

 

Keep smiling, keep shining

Seth Kelly Curtis

A Short Guide To Comparative Religions

Taoism                                   Poop happens.

Confuscism                           Confucius say, “Poop happens”.

Calvinism                              Poop happens because you don’t work hard enough.

Buddhism                              If poop happens, it really isn’t poop.

Seventh Day Adventist        No poop on Saturdays.

Zen                                         What is the sound of poop happening?

Hedonism                             There’s nothing like good poop happening.

Hinduism                              This poop happened before.

Mormon                                This poop is going to happen again.

Islam                                     If poop happens, it is the will of Allah.

Moonies                                Only happy poop happens.

Stoicism                                This poop is good for me.

Protestantism                      Let the poop happen to someone else.

Catholicism                          Poop happens because you  are bad.

Judaism                                 Why does this poop always happen to us?

Zoroastrianism                    Poop happens half the time.

Christian Scientist               Poop is in your mind.

Existentialism                      What is poop anyway?

New Age                                You create your own poop.

Rastafarianism                    Let’s smoke this poop.

 

 

May God bless and protect you and…

May you always be

Healthy, Happy

Safe and Comfortable

 

Keep smiling, keep shining

Seth Kelly Curtis