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In spiritual practice there is a fundamental law that there are as many pathways to God as there are people on Earth. We have discussed this principle in detail in the tutorial on the 1st Basic Principle of spiritual practice. As every person is different, SSRF emphasises that each person’s pathway and spiritual practice will change as per the person’s basic nature. However, we are often asked the question on our login ‘Ask a question’ facility, “How is it possible to customise spiritual practice for each seeker?” Moreover, SSRF suggests only 8 generic steps in spiritual practice and some common spiritual remedies such as the Salt Water Treatment and Box remedy. Then how can spiritual practice be tailor-made to an individual seeker?
2 Spiritual healing remedies to alleviate spiritual distress
In relation to spiritual distress due negative energies, spiritual healing treatment is generic and differs as per the type of negative energy distress. Just like there is a medicine for Tuberculosis (TB) that works for all patients having TB, similarly there are spiritual healing remedies that are appropriate for certain types of spiritual distress. For example, if a negative energy is using the Absolute Ether Cosmic Principle to cause one distress, then spiritual healing methods such as the box treatment would be recommended. Alternatively, if one is suffering from distress due to departed ancestral spirits, then chanting Shrī Gurudev Datta is recommended.
3 How do we tailor make spiritual practice?
However, when it comes to spiritual practice, SSRF emphasises that it needs to be tailor-made to the individual’s basic nature, which is different for everyone.
Some background understanding that you need to be aware of before reading the rest of the article is that each person differs in the following ways:
- At a physical level
- At a psychological level – this includes:
- Personality defects and ego of a person
- Qualities of a person
- One’s likes and dislikes, etc.
- The obstacles one faces due to life situations
- At a spiritual level each person differs in the following ways
- The proportion of the 3 subtle basic components (triguṇas)
- The proportion of the Five Absolute Cosmic Principles (Panchatattva)
- Their accumulated account of many births (sanchit karma)
- The destiny one is born with (prārabdha-karma) and has to undergo in the current lifetime
- The wilful actions (kriyamāṇa-karma) that one will commit in their lifetime.
So how does SSRF tailor-make spiritual practice taking into account all of the above? Let’s look at the 8 steps in spiritual practice and see how they can be highly individualised and customised.
- PDR Process: While the system for removing personality defects is the same tried and tested system, the personality defects of each person are highly individualized and can be provoked in an infinite variety of ways and situations. The PDR process allows for this level of customization for each person. Through the PDR process, we address the exact shade of negative impressions or defects as per the seeker. It is focused on his or her unique situations and corresponding mistakes. This helps to nullify the negative impressions in the sub-conscious mind which he or she has cultivated over many births and helps the seeker to grow spiritually. Accordingly, when we frame autosuggestions they are specific to the situation; we do not use a general auto-suggestion that is formed for all.
- Ego manifestations: Here too the ego manifestations of each person will differ in intensity and form. The Ego Removal process as a system (just like PDR) allows for customization as per the individual’s ego manifestations. For example, in some pride may be more because of their career and financial wealth while other’s may have pride in their skills or pride about their family.
- Chanting: We are born into the religion that is best suited to start our spiritual practice. This is why at SSRF, we recommend chanting God’s Name as per the religion of your birth. Later chants may change as per the need of the seeker and times we are living in. Some chants/mantras are specifically given to the seeker to overcome symptoms caused by spiritual distress.
- Satseva: When we provide a seeker with satsēvā (Service to the Absolute Truth), we take into account the skill sets or the temperament of the seeker. As God has given each of us qualities, through satseva we gain a chance to offer these same qualities back to God. In doing so a seeker makes spiritual progress. There are some seekers who are engaged in artwork satseva using Photoshop software, others who are taking lectures, some are nurturing others, some others are writing articles for the website, and some are priests and they perform rituals and the reciting of mantras. Like this, the list of possible satsevas is vast. So, here everyone gets a chance to go to God by the way in which they can serve God in the best possible way.
- Satsang: In all our satsangs and workshops, as seekers show their commitment to spiritual growth, we invest time in giving them specific guidance based on their situation. The guidance can also be regarding how to overcome obstacles that seekers may be facing. In a one-on-one spiritual practice review, the review/guidance is always tailor-made for the seeker.
- Sacrifice: Everyone’s likes and dislikes are different. When a seeker starts spiritual practice, they will need to give up some aspect of worldly life in order to make time in their day for spiritual practice. For example, if one is used to watching TV for 3 hours a day after work, one may need to scale that down to make time for spiritual practice. This is an example of sacrifice of the mind for spiritual practice. In each one’s case this sacrifice can be different depending on their situation.
- Spiritual emotion for God: With regards to spiritual emotion, everyone’s spiritual emotion can be expressed in different forms; some may do it through poetry, while others may do it through drawings and sketches, hymns, articles, music, dance, etc.
- Spiritual love (Prīti): Developing spiritual love for others which is love without expectations is an important step in spiritual practice in order to grow spiritually. True love for others (from a spiritual standpoint) is in fact helping people grow spiritually. Accordingly, one should invest time especially in helping those who are making efforts to grow spiritually. Even God’s Divine love is showered more upon those who make efforts to grow spiritually and who help others do the same.There are various ways in which one can show love towards others in relation to helping them with their spiritual growth. As per one’s temperament, the ways in which one expresses love towards others can change. For example, for some who are less talkative, they may express their love by doing things for others. For others who are more expressive, they may express their love by providing help and support to other seekers in their spiritual journey through discussion and giving correct perspectives. As one grows in one’s spiritual practice, one begins to imbibe a more Divine and expansive type of love which is Priti or love without expectations. Such type of love is seen through the speech and behaviour of Saints. For example, H.H. Dr Athavale works tirelessly without any expectations for the spiritual upliftment for seekers and all of humanity.
Based on the destiny one has to face in one’s lifetime, everyone has to face different situations. In each person’s case, the intensity of a similar situation will vary depending upon their spiritual level and their tolerance for stress. If a seeker has distress due to negative energies, he or she will need a different level of care as the negative energy will always try and complicate things for the seeker. Here too, guidance on how to handle a situation as a seeker needs to be tailor-made based on the individual’s capacity. As you can see there are an infinite number of ways that each of these aspects of spiritual practice can mushroom into based on the individual seeker. It is for this reason that SSRF has recommended these steps in spiritual practice and also gives free online satsangs to help seekers in their spiritual journey and to overcome obstacles in spiritual practice.