Short summary :
The eightfold path of spiritual practice is a path that is best suited to the current times. Practise it to experience faster spiritual progress and reach your spiritual goals.
Table of Contents
- 1. Spiritual practice for faster spiritual growth
- 2. Challenges we may face in making our daily efforts in spiritual practice
- 3. The eightfold path in spiritual practice
- 4. The Personality Defect Removal Process and Inculcating Virtues
- 5. The Ego Removal Process
- 6. Chanting the Name of God
- 7. Company of the Absolute Truth (Satsang)
- 8. Service unto the Absolute Truth (Satseva)
- 9. Awakening of spiritual emotion (bhav)
- 10. Sacrifice (Tyag)
- 11. Spiritual love (Priti)
- 12. Conclusion
1. Spiritual practice for faster spiritual growth
If you want to grow spiritually and make each day count, then this article is for you.
Firstly, it must be said that to have more than a passing interest in growing spiritually is indeed a blessing in today’s world. This is because, for most people in today’s world, materialistic aims in life generally take priority over any spiritual aims. People paradoxically chase happiness in the material world, when in fact true lasting happiness can actually only be experienced by those who grow spiritually even whilst completing all their worldly duties.
However, to grow spiritually, let alone at a fast rate, is easier said than done.
There are many challenges that a seeker of spiritual growth can face, which need to first be understood in order to overcome them in one’s spiritual journey. In this article, we will share with you the exact practices, which if implemented, will ensure faster spiritual progress for you.
2. Challenges we may face in making our daily efforts in spiritual practice
There are many challenges that a seeker can face. Listed below are some of the main challenges that we have observed in a seeker’s quest for spiritual growth.
- Improper guidance : Firstly, we live in an information age and there is a plethora (abundance) of guidance out there about Spirituality. This over-abundance of information usually leaves a seeker confused as to what to do and what/who to follow. Alas, more often than not, the source of the guidance is not a true Saint or spiritual guide (i.e., a person at the spiritual level of 70% or more). Seekers setting out on their spiritual journeys can easily be misled by nice words and a pious demeanour, which may have no real spiritual value. The bottom line is, if one does not practice Spirituality as per universal principles, they can end up wasting many years without growing spiritually and without gaining any spiritual benefit.
- What is my next step ? : For growth to occur, you need to have a next step. Unfortunately, many seekers continue doing the same level of spiritual practice for decades, which could include visiting a religious place of worship, going on pilgrimages, etc. There is an old adage which is – “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”. This applies to Spirituality as it does for any other field. The same level of practices returns the same level of results and no growth. Many seekers do not understand that to grow spiritually, one has to be committed to higher and higher levels of spiritual practice. They do not ask the crucial question – ‘What should be my next step in spiritual practice ?’ and hence they never practice the next step. This leads to stagnation.
- Perils of do-it-yourself Spirituality : When we have a legal problem we go to a lawyer … a medical problem a doctor … a TV problem a TV repair mechanic and so on. However, when it comes to seeking direction to understand the most complex and all-encompassing science, which is the science of Spirituality, very often people feel that they do not need any help to navigate their way. Mind you, this is the science, which if practised correctly has the potential to release you from the cycle of birth and death. They feel that by reading spiritual books or by doing some practice that they like, they will be able to progress. It is our experience that this is rarely the case. Without a spiritual guide, who is a true guide, it is extremely difficult to make spiritual progress.
- The accelerator is in my hand : Let’s suppose the seeker, by some stroke of luck, was indeed able to get proper guidance from a true spiritual guide and was able to understand what his next step in spiritual practice was. The seeker’s growth would then still depend on his desire to actually implement the guidance and his ability to persevere on the spiritual path. In Spirituality, it is said that there are many starters but very few are in it for the long run. Hence there are very few finalists. Finally, it should be remembered that Spirituality is a way of life that needs lifelong regular practice.
On a more positive note, despite the numerous obstacles that life can throw at one, if a seeker is sincere and truly desirous of spiritual growth, then God always comes to help that seeker and set him or her on the right path. This is encapsulated in the words of Paratpar Guru Dr Athavale :
“When we take one step towards God, He takes 10 steps towards us.”
– Paratpar Guru Dr Athavale
3. The eightfold path in spiritual practice
As an answer to all the above challenges, Paratpar Guru Dr Athavale created the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga). He did so with the blessings of His Guru – Saint Bhaktaraj Maharaj (a Saint of the highest order). A Paratpar Guru is a Saint of the highest order, i.e., who is at or above the spiritual level of 90%. The Path of Guru’s Grace consists of 8 spiritual practices, which are the foundation of this path. This path amalgamates the best practices from all other paths of spiritual practice to provide seekers with an unparalleled opportunity to experience faster spiritual growth in the current times.
The 8 aspects of the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga) are :
1. Personality Defect Removal (PDR or Swabhavdosh-Nirmulan) and Inculcating Virtues
2. Ego Removal (Aham-Nirmulan)
3. Chanting the Name of God (Nam)
4. Awakening of Spiritual Emotion (Bhav)
5. Company of the Absolute Truth (Satsang)
6. Service unto the Absolute Truth (Satseva)
7. Sacrifice (Tyag)
8. Spiritual love (Priti)
In the brackets, we have provided the Sanskrit word that denotes that aspect of spiritual practice.
We may begin practising these aspects in any order. Finally, for faster spiritual growth all aspects need to be practised, thus giving a seeker a means to experience well-rounded spiritual growth. These aspects also help a seeker to overcome all the obstacles/challenges which impede spiritual growth. Which aspect a seeker should take up first really depends on his basic nature. If one has many personality defects, then the Personality Defect Removal (PDR) process is a good starting point. If one is very devotional, then chanting would be a good starting point. If someone is more action-oriented, he may choose satseva (Service unto the Absolute Truth) as his first step.
4. The Personality Defect Removal Process and Inculcating Virtues
Challenges faced by a seeker
Personality defects (or undesirable traits) include traits such as anger, greed, laziness, insecurity, emotionalism, etc., which are the bane of our existence. This is because apart from making us less efficient, they are a constant source of stress and misery in ours and others’ lives. Everyone has personality defects to varying degrees of intensity – some have more and some less. For seekers, such defects rob us of experiencing any happiness (let alone Bliss) that our spiritual practice has the potential to give us. Also, when they erupt as a reaction to a situation, these personality defects destabilise us.
Negative energies from the subtle dimension find it easy to gain entry into a person with many personality defects. They accentuate the reactions which a person may be having, thus negatively impacting the person and others. For example, if we have the personality defect of anger and we hurt others by the way we speak, we incur sin. At a spiritual level, the energy generated through the spiritual practice is used in nullifying the sin. Consequently, they diminish one’s ability to persevere on his spiritual path. Regardless of the spiritual path one follows, if one has many personality defects, spiritual progress is difficult if not impossible.
How the practice of Personality Defect Removal helps :
What we do not know about ourselves, we cannot fix. The Personality Defect Removal process helps to correct this. Pioneered by Paratpar Guru Dr Athavale, it not only helps a seeker to overcome the above challenges, but also builds a strong foundation for spiritual growth. It does so in three steps.
- Data collection/Observation : The first thing this practice does is it sets a clear methodology to understand what our defects are. This is because most people, while being very critical and judgemental of others are quite often oblivious to their own defects. Using the Personality Defect Removal process methodology, data is collected about the mistakes we make and the circumstances leading to it. By collecting such data about oneself, it opens one’s eyes to the areas where one lacks and also give one an appreciation of his qualities and character strengths. In short, the process holds a mirror up to one’s real nature and shows us all exactly who we are.
- Analysis : Every mistake or shortcoming that is documented adds to us getting a better view of ourselves. It helps us to analyse what is the real cause of reactions in one’s mind that instigates us to make mistakes. We gain clarity about our mistakes and shortcomings. For example, we come to understand which mistakes often repeat or which mistakes affect not only us but a larger group of people. This analysis provides us with a more realistic view of ourselves giving us a clearer picture of who and what presses our buttons.
- Autosuggestions : Once we have analysed the root personality defect that is causing the mistake, the way to fix it is quite straightforward. It is a tried and tested method using something known as Autosuggestions (AS). These Autosuggestions are positive sentences which train the mind to respond to situations in a proper manner. They need to be repeated several times a day. There are 7 AS techniques. Unlike affirmations, they are tailor-made to the individual and the situation related to the mistake. Thus, by doing so, we can start the process of purging our defects and living a happier, more meaningful and more blissful way of life – the way it was meant to be.
Refer to the section on the PDR process to understand this process in more detail.
Inculcation of virtues or qualities (Yet to be published)
Along with removing our personality defects, it is important that we also develop virtues or qualities. This is because it will benefit both oneself and others. The personality defect removal process (PDR) helps us to come to a neutral state from a negative state of mind. It also stops us from generating negative karma which eventually results in incurring sins. When we complement the PDR process with inculcating virtues opposite to the personality defects which we are working on, it helps to overcome that personality defect faster.
Take anger, for example. Through analysing our mistakes of anger and taking autosuggestions, we will naturally come to a state that is calmer. So, if before we felt angry when being yelled at by our spouse, the PDR process will help us to come to a calm state where we do not react. But if at the same time we try to inculcate the virtue of understanding others, then our anger will reduce even faster.
There are 3 main steps to inculcating virtues or qualities:
- Selecting virtues that are opposite to the personality defects which we are working on
- Selecting incidents where we can practice the virtue
- Filling the virtue inculcation chart
5. The Ego Removal Process
Challenges faced by a seeker
Ego is the biggest stumbling block in one’s spiritual journey. This is because, in spiritual terms, our ego is that which separates us from experiencing the Divine or God within us. Having ego equates to leading our life with the myopic thinking that our existence is limited to our 5 senses, mind and intellect. In practical terms, this means having thoughts such as – my name, my body, my looks, my education, my position, my family, my achievements, etc. It seems that these my thoughts are the be-all and end-all of one’s existence. One does not think beyond this limited view of life. All of us identify mainly with this lower view of ourselves to varying degrees. On the other hand, spiritual growth means transcending our lower selves, which is our 5 senses, mind and intellect and experiencing the Soul or the God principle that resides in each one of us.
Ego stops us from experiencing the God Principle within us. While all personality defects arise out of one’s ego, the ego is more subtle in nature. Ego manifests in a myriad of ways. Commonly and not so commonly known manifestations of ego include – pride, superiority, inferiority, teaching attitude, I am right, speaking authoritatively, speaking loudly often, having expectations, seeking praise, doership, thinking about one’s looks, selfishness, constantly talking about oneself and one’s family, my wish should be given priority, etc.
This should give you an idea about the many facets of the ego of a person.
Regardless of the path one follows, if one has a high ego, spiritual progress cannot take place.
How this practice helps
To progress spiritually, our ego needs to reduce. There is no alternative. However, our ego is so deep-rooted within us that eliminating it is not easy even while practising Spirituality. So, instead of thinking that one’s ego will be eliminated automatically by performing spiritual practice, one should make conscious efforts to reduce ego. Some efforts that can be made at a practical level to reduce ego are given ahead :
- Prayers : When we pray earnestly to God with humility, we express our helplessness. This helps to reduce ego. Some examples of prayers which we can make to reduce ego are :
- O God, make me aware of the aspects that inﬂate my ego.
- O God, please create incidents in my life and place me in the company of individuals that will help to reduce my ego.
- O God, please help me to accept any feedback or mistakes which others are making me aware of.
- Developing the quality of thinking about others helps to reduce ego. We should make efforts at a practical level to think about others. For example, when we see one of our family members has an increased workload, we can offer to iron their clothes or help them with things they need.
- Doing physical chores such as cleaning utensils, cleaning the house, etc. helps to reduce ego faster. To imbibe more spiritual benefit, one can pray for the task to be done as satseva (Service to God)
- Think of how vast the Universe is and how small one is in comparison. Alternatively, think of the vastness of time and how short our lives are in comparison. Such thoughts are helpful to reduce ego.
- Maintaining the perspective or spiritual emotion (bhav) that everything is happening as per God’s wish or because of God. For example, in worldly life, we should have the spiritual emotion that ‘God has taught me’ instead of ‘I am intelligent and graduated from Harvard University’, ‘God arranged my marriage’ instead of ‘I got married’, etc.
- Offering gratitude : By expressing gratitude, the doership (I did it) is offered unto the Guru or God, and this helps reduce ego. To learn more, refer to our article on what is gratitude from a spiritual perspective.
Please refer to our section on ego removal to learn more.
6. Chanting the Name of God
Challenges faced by a seeker
One of the most common challenges a seeker faces is lack of time. We often hear seekers saying that they cannot find the time to be regular with their spiritual practice. This is understandable in today’s world with the stresses and strains of everyday life – finding time to do spiritual practice is difficult. And let’s say a seeker was able to find the time to do a spiritual practice such as meditation; even then it cannot be done continuously throughout the day.
How chanting God’s Name helps
This is why Sages have recommended that in the current era, chanting the Name of God is the best spiritual practice because it can be done silently in one’s mind throughout the day. It is a spiritual practice that is easy to do and is not dependent on time or place. Since it can be done continuously, it helps to develop continuity in spiritual practice.
Moreover, for growing spiritually, spiritual energy is needed. The Name of God has tremendous positive Divine Energy. By chanting the Name of God, one imbibes Divine Energy. The more concentrated or focussed the chanting, the more one benefits from this spiritual practice. When done with spiritual emotion, the benefit increases exponentially.
Another benefit of chanting is that it helps in erasing negative impressions of personality defects in the subconscious mind. A person’s subconscious mind carries millions of impressions and it can take many years or even lifetimes to be able to overcome undesirable traits through psychological means. This process is hastened if one chants the Name of God. This is because regular chanting establishes a ‘devotion centre’ in one’s subconscious mind that begins to overpower the other impressions in the subconscious mind. Thus, the other negative impressions begin to lose strength automatically and their effect on the person reduces.
The spiritual energy gained from chanting helps in spiritual progress. SSRF recommends chanting the Name of God as per the religion of your birth or ||Om Namo Bhagwate Vasudevaya|| (a chant that is most conducive for spiritual growth till the year 2023). Along with this, chanting ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ is also recommended. It is a protective chant that helps to protect from spiritual distress caused by unsatisfied departed ancestral spirits (subtle bodies).
7. Company of the Absolute Truth (Satsang)
Challenges faced by a seeker
In a seeker’s journey, there will be many times when he needs spiritual help. This could include the following situations :
- Asking questions on Spirituality
- Clarifying his doubts about Spirituality or his spiritual practice
- Getting support during times when there is a lack of desire, loss of focus, negative thinking, not knowing how to overcome obstacles, etc.
- Getting help with spiritual healing
Without the help of other guiding seekers and co-seekers, seekers can at times feel overwhelmed by obstacles that can crop up from time to time in their spiritual journeys. This could lead to them even stopping spiritual practice and giving up on their spiritual goals.
How satsang helps
The word satsang is a Sanskrit word where ‘Sat’ refers to the Absolute Truth i.e., God and ‘sang’ refers to be ‘in the company of’. Therefore, it means to be in the company of the Absolute Truth. This is usually accomplished by being in the company of co-seekers and Saints where theoretical and practical aspects of Spirituality are discussed. Satsang is an environment which is conducive for nurturing seekers and helping them in their spiritual practice.
The collective spiritual energy present due to many seekers attending a satsang provides one with the impetus to persevere in his spiritual practice. Going to places of worship, reading spiritual texts written by Saints, remaining in the company of fellow seekers (being guided by a Saint) and visiting a true Saint or a Guru, are examples of satsang of a progressively superior quality.
On a scale of 1 to 100, with respect to the importance of the type of spiritual practice, the relative importance of chanting the Name of God has 5% importance while that of being in satsang and the company of Saints is 30%. These percentages gained through spiritual research (using advanced sixth sense) highlight the importance of satsang.
Given below are some of the numerous benefits of being in satsang.
- One gains the conviction and desire to persevere in one’s spiritual practice by remaining in satsang. One’s enthusiasm for spiritual practice increases.
- The Divine consciousness (Chaitanya) present in satsangs also helps to give spiritual energy to a seeker for his spiritual practice.
- A feeling of closeness develops between seekers attending the satsang and it is easier to develop more love for others.
- We can learn from the efforts in spiritual practice made by other seekers who attend the satsang.
- While attending satsang, one may experience a higher level of spiritual experiences than what they may be used to. This helps to increase one’s faith in Spirituality.
In current times, doing spiritual practice by oneself is very difficult. We need the support of other seekers and the spiritually evolved to help propel us further in our spiritual journeys. This is why SSRF holds regular weekly online satsangs which are free of charge and gives a lot of importance to them. Click here to attend a satsang.
You can also visit our section on satsang to learn more about this aspect of spiritual practice.
8. Service unto the Absolute Truth (Satseva)
Challenges faced by a seeker
When seekers discover Spirituality in their lives, they have an urge to do something in their free time to serve Spirituality. Sometimes, due to a lack of guidance, they end up doing some social service or charity work, which may not be the equivalent of serving the spread of Spirituality. With activities such as social service or charity work, there is also a risk of a person’s ego increasing. This is because social workers invariably get thoughts such as – ‘see how much I have done’, ‘I am doing such good work for society’, ‘I am such a nice person’, etc., which in spiritual terms equates to doership. Dealing with social issues such as poverty, poor healthcare, etc. may increase their emotionalism, which in turn increases their ego. If not done with the right perspective, one runs the risk of creating new give-and-take accounts (karmic accounts) with the people they are helping. To learn more, please refer to our article on whether social service is considered as spiritual practice.
How satseva helps
Satseva means Service unto the Absolute Truth, which means serving God’s mission by spreading Spirituality (which has to adhere to universal spiritual principles). Beginning with satseva is considered a big leap in our spiritual practice as it gives us many opportunities to grow spiritually. On a scale of 1 to 100, with respect to the importance of this type of spiritual practice, the relative importance of chanting the Name of God has 5% importance while that of being in satsang and the company of Saints is 30% as mentioned above. Compared to these other two practices, the relative importance of satseva is 100%.
When we participate in God’s mission of propagating Spirituality, then He becomes pleased with us. This is because He thinks we are not selfish and only thinking about our personal spiritual growth, but also how others can progress spiritually. This helps us imbibe God’s quality of expansiveness. This is similar to how God looks after the spiritual progress of all beings. Thus, by imbibing this quality of God, satseva leads to faster spiritual progress.
Service to God or satseva integrates all the other steps of spiritual practice in it.
- While doing satseva, we monitor our mistakes and other seekers also give us feedback, which helps us to become spiritually introverted (antarmukh), so PDR happens.
- Later seekers start doing their satseva with the feeling of gratitude because they experience how much God is doing for them in their lives. So satseva evokes spiritual emotion.
- Importantly satseva joins us with the concept known as samashti sadhana, which is helping society to grow spiritually. In the current era, the relative importance of samashti sadhana is 70%, while vyashti sadhana, which is individual spiritual practice, is 30%.
- By offering one’s time and effort for God’s mission, a sacrifice of one’s body, mind, intellect happens.
- Also, when we do satseva with others, it gives us the chance to learn from them and practice thinking about others, so we develop God’s love (Priti) step-by-step.
Due to the grace and guidance of Paratpar Guru Dr Athavale, SSRF has developed a platform for seekers to do satseva as per their time, interest and capacity. Many seekers have joined this platform from different parts of the world to offer their time and skills for various types of satsevas to spread Spirituality. Some of the satsevas include the translation of books or articles, helping in organising and conducting lectures and spiritual workshops, satseva related to SSRF’s social media pages, writing articles and blogs, participating in the maintenance and development of the SSRF website and more. We appeal to our readers who are interested in starting satseva to contact us on our LiveChat facility.
To learn more about satseva, please visit our section on it.
9. Awakening of spiritual emotion (bhav)
Challenges faced by a seeker
Imagine doing an activity or profession without any passion for it. The whole activity will seem dry and one would lack enthusiasm. The same is so for spiritual practice. Very often, when seekers start spiritual practice, they go through the motions of spiritual practice, but they may not get the feeling of the Divine. This is because they do not know how to go about awakening spiritual emotion. However, when they do experience bhav, it brings Divine sweetness into their lives and spiritual practice.
How bhav helps and how to go about awakening it
There is a saying : Where there is spiritual emotion (bhav), God is present.
This statement gives us an indication of the immense importance that making efforts for awakening spiritual emotion has. So, what is bhav ? Words fall short in explaining this superlative spiritual feeling. Bhav is the feeling of oneness with God. But what does it feel like ?
Usually, we are all acutely aware of our existence. However, when we make efforts to awaken spiritual emotion, we get a chance to experience the presence of God. It is a superlative feeling where we feel we are in communion with the Divine. In this state, there are no needs, no wants, just feelings of Bliss, love, gratefulness and a feeling of being one with God. Often it is accompanied by some physical manifestations of tears, trembling, etc. It gives meaning to everything we do as part of spiritual practice and brings the essence of the Divine into our lives. We feel that God or the Guru is by our side walking with us. At that moment, stress fades away. The greater the spiritual emotion, the greater is the feeling of closeness to God.
Sometimes our spiritual emotion gets awakened spontaneously when we feel gratitude for God or remember how much God has done for us. However, it is important to make efforts at the level of the mind and intellect continuously to increase our spiritual emotion and for it to become constant in our lives.
Some easy steps for increasing spiritual emotion are given ahead.
- We can perform all day-to-day activities with the feeling that we are serving God through that. For example, when cleaning the house, we can have the attitude and spiritual emotion that we are cleaning God’s home. When cooking a meal, we can harbour the spiritual emotion that we are cooking a meal for God. We can have the feeling that we are serving God while performing duties at work, etc.
- We can remember with a feeling of gratitude all the difficult times where we could feel God’s help and where the situation was resolved due to His grace. We can also remember all the spiritual experiences He has bestowed upon us during our spiritual journeys to nurture our faith. Having a feeling of gratitude is an important ingredient in inculcating spiritual emotion.
One important point to remember is that we may not be able to remain in a state of bhav continually. However, remember this is the goal that we are trying to achieve. Being in a continuous state of bhav is possible at an advanced spiritual level. So, do not get disheartened if you are not able to experience bhav initially. It is more important to continuously make efforts to awaken bhav. When we make earnest efforts, then God gives us the gift of experiencing bhav and His Divine presence. For more information on the efforts that one can make to experience bhav please refer to our section on spiritual emotion.
10. Sacrifice (Tyag)
Challenges faced by a seeker
Many seekers do not know how to go ahead in their spiritual practice. One of the main contributing factors is that they are used to their comfort zone with their set routine. They do not want to go outside it. Hence, they do not take the next step in their spiritual practice.
Also, people have various attachments – it could be physical or emotional. They have the false notion that the things they are attached to will bring them lasting happiness. But nothing can be further from the truth. As you know, we live in a world that is constantly changing and the very things that we are attached to can bring us immense sadness when they change. Giving up one’s attachments and moving outside of one’s comfort zone is easier said than done.
So, what is the solution to this ?
How sacrifice helps and how to go about it :
The spiritual practice of sacrifice involves making concerted efforts to make sacrifices of one’s body, mind and wealth to serve God or to help in His mission of spreading Spirituality.
However, when ‘sacrifice’ or ‘abstaining’ or ‘giving up things’ is mentioned, some of us may have the misconception that it means that it will eventually mean we will need to renounce our worldly lives. One may think, ‘What if I give and do not get anything in return ?’ This may make us fearful and hesitant about adopting such a form of spiritual practice.
It is important to understand the spirit of this practice. It needs to be made out of love, in which case one never feels that one is making a sacrifice. A worldly example that can help us understand such a kind of sacrifice is the sacrifice parents makes for their children. They can go through many difficulties and sacrifices to ensure that their children have the best opportunities. They never feel it because it is done with love. Sacrifice as a spiritual practice is similar. The only difference is that here we are giving back a bit of what we have received from the Creator Himself, to serve Him. But this takes effort, and one may still be filled with hesitancy to go outside of one’s comfort zone and sacrifice one’s mind, body or wealth.
So, one can start with small forms of sacrifices. Let’s say you are in the habit of instead of aimlessly browsing a social media channel like Facebook and checking the number of likes your posts have for an hour at a time. Then, a small sacrifice of the mind could be to spend that time in the spiritual practice of chanting the Name of God with concentration. You will notice that every time you choose to go closer to God or to serve Him, you are benefitted – it could be physically or mentally and always spiritually.
When we offer ourselves – be it mind, body or wealth – we create the space within us to receive. When we make the effort of going outside of our comfort zones and taking one step towards God, we will experience that He is doing much more for us. This gives us the faith to sacrifice more and more of our worldly existence to experience the Divine.
Some of the ways we can sacrifice :
- Giving up our free time to serve God
- Offering our talents and skills to serve His mission
- Donating to help spread Spirituality
- Even if we do not have anything, we still have a physical body. We can help clean the premises before a workshop on Spirituality.
Sacrifices can be made as per one’s capacity. As the quality and quantity of our spiritual practice increases, our desire to sacrifice increases automatically. Ultimately though, we have to sacriﬁce everything and our attachments related to body, mind and wealth. Only when we give up our worldly way of life and all the attachments that come with it completely, can we experience God completely.
Please refer to our section on sacrifice to learn more.
11. Spiritual love (Priti)
Challenges faced by a seeker
The harsh reality of today’s world is that most people are self-centred. People who genuinely think of others and put others before themselves without any ulterior motive are rare.
So, if we were to take two ends of the continuum of love and thinking about others, one side would represent self-centredness and on the other side unconditional love for others. God’s love, which is spiritual love or Priti is the epitome of unconditional love for others. Saints at a very high spiritual level display this form of selfless love for others and for all of creation.
It is this unique quality of God that makes Him so endearing to all of humankind and all subtle entities in the spiritual dimension.
If a seeker wants to merge with God, then wherever he is on this continuum, he has to make efforts to go towards the side of unconditional love for others. This is because just as oil and water cannot merge because of their different properties, a self-centred man cannot merge with God, whose quality is Priti. However, making efforts to display unselfish love while being surrounded by a selfish and self-centred world is not easy. In today’s world, we are conditioned to put ourselves first. We may be fearful that others may take advantage of us as they may view us as meek.
So how does one transform into an expansive loving person in today’s world ?
This is where the step of learning about and practising spiritual love (Priti) comes in.
How the practice of Priti helps a seeker
If there is one thing that transcends all boundaries, it is love.
You may have spiritual knowledge, but if you do not have love, people will not feel close to you.
Love has to show in all our actions, speech and behaviour towards every living being and even inanimate objects and it has to come from within. It cannot be faked. God thinks that the whole world is His, so we have to also finally come to that stage where we think that the whole world is ours. Then only, can we merge into God.
We cannot transform ourselves into people who have spiritual love in one day.
So, we need to start by making small daily efforts, some examples of which are given below.
- Doing things for others and later going out of one’s way to do things for others
- Doing as per ‘others wish’ instead of ‘my wish’ is an important effort in practising this step
- Speaking softly and in a humble and loving way
- PDR efforts of lowering one’s expectation of others
- Not being critical and judgemental of others and being more understanding and tolerant of others
- Doing things selflessly
- Keeping the spiritual emotion that you are serving God in others by basically trying to see God in everything
- Practising empathy towards others and their situations
- Appreciating others and having gratitude towards others
- Practising forgiveness where you not only forgive, but you forget the incident as well
- Helping others to understand the importance of Spirituality and helping them to practice it
At first, this can be practised with co-seekers and loved ones. Step-by-step, we can increase the sphere of this practice to include friends, work colleagues, acquaintances, unknown people, animals, inanimate objects and then even our enemies.
As we make such efforts a part of our daily routine, we become more endearing towards others. We experience a blissful feeling from selflessly serving others without expectations. This spurs us on to continue doing this more and more. At first, we have to put more effort into thinking of others, and later after the spiritual level of 70%, i.e., when one reaches Sainthood, true Priti starts to develop.
Please visit our section on Spiritual love (Priti) to read more.
According to the Science of Spirituality, a fundamental purpose of life is to grow spiritually. It is the noblest of all human goals and endeavours. Going towards the ultimate in Spirituality gives us the gift of experiencing Bliss, a superlative form of happiness that is not dependent on anything. In this state, one is Blissful irrespective of one’s situation. The influence of people at advanced spiritual levels is such that it extends to positively influencing everything around them.
According to the UN, the average life expectancy of a person is approximately 72 years. This gives us a little over 50 adult years (or roughly 18,250 days) to reach our goal. Depending on how old you are while reading this article, as a seeker, you will realise that there is now a finite amount of time left to reach this spiritual goal. On a more serious note, if we do not meet a threshold spiritual level, the Law of Karma (destiny) warrants that we get born again on Earth to settle our karma. Being reborn on Earth in the current era of Kaliyug generally entails more suffering than happiness in life.
Now if there is one thing that we can never get back – it is time, and if there is one thing that can go by in a flash – it is time. One day, we wake up and we realise that we are in the winter of our lives, and we wonder where the time went. So, for a seeker who wants to grow spiritually, he needs to make every day count, because to grow spiritually to higher spiritual levels can take a lifetime. Our prayer is that seekers make use of this knowledge and embrace the eightfold path which is the ‘Path of the Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)’ and reap the benefits of faster spiritual progress.