Spiritual practice with expectation and without expectation

1. Definitions

  • Spiritual practice with expectation (sakām sādhanā): This is spiritual practice done with the expectation of worldly gain. For example, saying prayers, making offerings, fasting or doing some rituals to:
    • Gain wealth
    • Get a job
    • Find lost objects
    • Conceive a child
    • Overcome an illness
    • Ensure the safety of a loved one
  • Spiritual practice without expectation (nishkām sādhanā): This is spiritual practice done with the sole aim of spiritual growth. Thus, in this mode of spiritual practice, seekers of spiritual growth will continue with their spiritual practice while using every event in their lives for spiritual growth. If at all they are faced with a difficult situation they will use the situation to grow spiritually by reducing their ego or surrendering the outcome of the situation to God’s wish (Īshwarēchhā).

Refer to the article on prayer with expectation and without expectation

2. A comparison of sakam and nishkam modes of spiritual practice

  • When we do spiritual practice a certain amount of spiritual energy is generated. Now when the spiritual energy is directed towards worldly gain as in the sakam mode of spiritual practice, desires may be fulfilled but spiritual growth does not occur. This is akin to attempting to fill a jar with a leak; the jar never gets full. When we do nishkam spiritual practice then all the energy generated from spiritual practice is used to fuel spiritual growth. When a seeker of God does nishkam spiritual practice not only does spiritual growth occur, but his material and worldly requirements are also taken care of.
  • The seeker experiences worldly happiness by doing sakam spiritual practice while he experiences Bliss (Ānand) by doing nishkam spiritual practice.

    Sakaam Nishkaam

Spiritual practice with expectation
(Sakām sādhanā)
Spiritual practice without expectation
(Nishkām sādhanā)
Activates The saviour aspect of God The Guru or the Teaching Principle of God
Result: For the worldly wish to be granted however depends on:
– Intensity of spiritual practice
– The destiny that one has to undergo
Seeker experiences spiritual growth
Activates The saviour aspect of God
Result: The worldly aspect of the seeker’s life is taken care of by God.
Activates The destroyer aspect of God
Result: The destroyer aspect of the God principle removes the obstruction from anyone who is troubling the seeker.
  • When we do sakam spiritual practice, we activate the saviour aspect of the God principle. The final result of what we pray or wish for is mainly influenced by the intensity of our spiritual practice and our destiny. When we do nishkam spiritual practice we activate the Guru principle or the Teaching Principle of God that looks after our spiritual growth. However, along with this, we also activate the saviour (tārak) aspect of God. If a seeker practicing nishkam spiritual practice is obstructed and troubled by someone, then the destroyer (mārak) form of God is activated to protect the seeker and give the person troubling the seeker his due.
  • Sakam spiritual practice cannot give permanence. For example, suppose a person does spiritual practice to acquire a lot of wealth. Once he gets wealthy his desires do not stop there. He may ask for good health, a good spouse, a child, and so on. Thus he gets trapped in a vicious circle of trying to appease his various desires. Such a quest can never end, as there is always something yet to be fulfilled. So, one can never experience complete satisfaction from this mode of spiritual practice. However, in the nishkam mode of spiritual practice, once a person’s sole aim of spiritual progress is achieved, he realises his true self and realises God. At this stage of spiritual evolvement, he gets the permanent experience of continuous Bliss.
  • Sakam spiritual practice is about (experiencing) all creation or created objects, whereas nishkam spiritual practice is about (experiencing) the Creator. Sakam spiritual practice is about obtaining things in the Great Illusion (Māyā), while nishkam spiritual practice is about realising and experiencing the Absolute Truth, which is God.
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