Spirituality For Worldly People

Spirituality and Spiritual Practice

by Jayaram V

The Vedas, the Upanishads and other scriptures proclaim that God is the indweller of all that exists here and we are His numerous forms and manifestations. They declare various ways in which we can grow spiritually and reflect our higher nature. There are numerous spiritual paths, meditation techniques and yoga practices, which enable you to accomplish this miraculous and noble transformation. However, most of them require serious effort and dedication on your part to overcome your lower nature and stabilize your mind in the practice of detachment and renunciation.

There is nothing more fulfilling than leading a holistic life, idealized in many ascetic and religious traditions of India, including Hinduism and Buddhism, in which you balance your material and spiritual goals to address the causes of suffering and develop a fearless and stable mind. This article is meant for worldly people who have a spiritual bent of mind but are reluctant to enter the path of renunciation fully either because of circumstances or obligations. For them this article provides guidance on how they can use certain affirmations to change their thinking and attitude. It aims to help them to grow spiritually until they are ready to enter the path of renunciation and asceticism.

Spiritual transformation must begin in the mind. Your spiritual practice must lead to certain healthy and genuine changes in your beliefs, values and outlook. You can use the following affirmations as the starting point to balance your worldly concerns with spiritual thoughts. By reflecting upon them and understanding them, you can bring your turbulent mind to rest and develop necessary strength and resolve to take up further challenges on the path.

The same consciousness resides in all.

In the core of our being we are all the same. We are made up of the same elements and components of Nature. Our purest consciousness is the same in all. Our names and forms, thinking and knowledge may vary, but inside we are subject to the same emotions, feelings, impulses and thought processes. We may think and act differently in the wakeful state but in deep sleep we enter the same realm of inner calm. This core aspect of our consciousness is the starting point for the existence of all beings. It is also the culmination of all spiritual endeavor and final liberation.

I am the inner Self.

You are neither your mind nor your body. This is the first and the most fundamental truth about our existence. Unless we transcend our attachment to names and forms and we cannot free our minds from the turbulence created by our senses. Recognizing your spiritual nature and becoming centered in it is very important, for which you have to restrain your mind and body, and become aware of the core of your being. Without it you will not be able to overcome habitual thought patterns or emotional instability. Most importantly, without it you will be not be able to assuage your fears and doubts and focus upon your spiritual goals.

My self-image is a construction.

You know that your mind stores information selectively. It does not remember everything. Over time, your memories also change because your conditioned mind rewrites some of them to fit them into the narrative of your life or to protect you from feelings of guilt and shame.

Of the numerous memories, sensations and life's experiences, you select a few and create a notion of the Self and glue them together with your desires and attachment. In other words your self-image is largely what you want to be and how you want to present yourself to others. It is shaped mostly by your desires and aspirations.

You might have lied a thousand times to your closest friends and relations either to avoid hurting them or hurting yourself. Yet, you may genuinely believe that you are honest and reliable. Thus, the self-image of a person is a temporary construct or a mere aggregation of diverse physical and mental parts. It is also a work in progress, which is unstable and keeps constantly changing and evolving.

We create it to feel good about ourselves and relate to the world outside as part of our survival. There are things about you, which you do not know; things about you which you might have forgotten fully or partially; and things about you which you might have perceived in one way while others might have perceived differently. There are also things about you which you or anyone else will never know. Therefore, the notion of who you are does not necessarily be the same as what you are. One should therefore cultivate humility and practice mindfulness to overcome the delusion of the egoistic self.

I am an ancient and eternal soul .

You are not born just a few years ago. You are not born for the first time. In the history of the earth, you may be even older than your grandfather or grandmother. Your current life is a chapter in the long history of your soul's existence in the phenomenal world.

Liberation is important and relevant in the context of this truth only. If there is no rebirth, there is no need for liberation or spiritual practice. You are not mere mind and body. You are a sacred soul, as ancient and eternal as existence itself. You have lived numerous lives in the past and you may continue to do so until you resolve your karma fully.

If you want to grow spiritually you must cultivate this vision and see your life and existence in a much wider time. It will help you to understand your current life much better and deal with the problems in your life with greater clarity and purpose.

Everyone deserves my compassion. Everyone who lives here suffers. No one is exempt from problems, sickness, disease, aging and death. Eventually, we all die. It is not true that only poor people suffer and deserve our compassion. We must have compassion for every living which is caught in the cycle of births and deaths. We may heal the sick and the needy through our prayers and thoughts, but at the same time we must follow the Buddhist practice of wishing the welfare of the whole world and avoid developing attachment to only certain people and methods of healing.

Just as others deserve your compassion, you also deserve it. Therefore, you must practice love and compassion first towards you before you extend it to others. The same applies to all other virtues. You cannot give what you do not have. Your practice of love and compassion must begin first within yourself. You must also forgive yourself and condone all your past sins. Then you can open your heart and pour your love into the world.

I renounce selfishness.

From the perspective of karma, selfishness is the root cause of many evils such as fear, anger, greed, pride, lust and envy. Even virtuous actions performed with selfishness lead to bondage and suffering only. There is no escape from the cycle of births and deaths and no possibility of progress on the path unless one renounces selfishness in all forms.

One of the most effective ways to overcome selfishness suggested by Prajapati Brahma was to practice charity. You can practice charity by giving away your wealth, knowledge, wisdom, etc. We do not get mental peace just by going to a Church, or temple, but by sharing and spreading the joy and love which is our true nature.

If we are selfish and disconnected, however hard we may try, we cannot experience oneness with our inner Self. The love that we block in our hearts prevents us from receiving the love that comes from others.

However, if we shake off our selfish and self-centered thoughts and see the Self in others and others in the Self, we experience oneness with others and grow in that awareness. We see the world as a reflection of ourselves and feel connected to it.

I renounce my aversion and attachment to negativity.

Negativity means harboring evil and negative thoughts about oneself or others and expecting the worst. If you want to experience peace and happiness in your life you must renounce negativity in all forms. It is a bad karma.

Negative thoughts create negative and harmful consequences for yourself and others. There is no magic way of eliminating negativity quickly. You have to spend considerable time bringing your mind to total rest and freeing it from all negativity.

Indeed, when you begin spiritual practice, life will throw at you plenty of negativity. One of the best ways to deal with it is to consider your negative them as opportunities to practice equanimity, detachment and sameness. Instead of resisting them, allow them to gradually weaken and dissolve themselves.

I create my life. Our thoughts, desires, intentions and actions create our lives. At every turn in our lives, we are offered with numerous choices and opportunities. The course of our lives depend upon the choices we exercise and the opportunities we use. Both our actions and inactions shape our lives.

This is karma manifesting our lives and recreating our existence relentlessly. We must understand this principle and accept responsibility for our actions and our lives. Karma is a correcting mechanism. Its purpose is to teach us valuable lessons as to the nature of our existence and the need for liberation. When things go wrong, we must analyze our past and understand how we created the current reality and what we may do deal with it.

I know all things change and are impermanent

The impermanence of our world is both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem because it is responsible for the modifications of the mind. It is an opportunity because we can reflect upon it and cultivate the virtues of detachment, sameness and renunciation.

The idea of liberation and the need for spiritual practice become relevant because we are subject to impermanence. If we constantly remember that everything will eventually pass away, we become prepared for the inevitable and learn to flow with the flow of life instead of resisting it.

Reflecting upon impermanence and becoming mindful of its numerous forms is a powerful mental practice to understand the nature of suffering and the need for liberation.

I accept that I die every day and death is inevitable.

Contemplation upon death is a very effective technique used in several traditions to overcome the fear of death and attachment to material things. By reflecting upon death occasionally we learn to accept death as a process of change and stop worrying and fearing about it.

Death is inevitable for those who take birth. In life generally we tend to avoid thinking about death because it makes us uncomfortable. We go about our lives as if death is not going to happen soon or somehow we will deal with it when it comes.

The truth about our existence is that life and death are the dualities of phenomenal existence. We are subject to rebirth and death not only in each life, but also each day several times. Renewal and destruction are the two sides of our existence. We die a little bit inside our bodies continuously until we leave them finally.

God and Spirituality

In this article so far we have not discussed about God or devotion. It so because the practice of spirituality does not necessarily require faith in God or devotion to Him. Buddhism and Jainism are two good examples in this regard. Theism and spirituality do not have to go together.

Whether you believe in God or not, and whether you rely upon your faith in God for your spiritual transformation depend upon your personal choice and beliefs. Undoubtedly, surrendering to God and seeking His blessings for your liberation is a powerful way to neutralize your past karmas and progress on the path.

If we remember that we are aspects of one God and what dwells in all of us is the same inner Self, we become more tolerant, empathetic and compassionate in our attitude towards others and the rest of creation allow our higher nature to manifest in us and take control of our lives.

The Self in each of us is a reflection of God. It is omnipresent and omniscient. By reflecting upon Him, we can bring the power of God into our lives. If we purify our minds and hearts and develop a divine centered consciousness, we witness the sacred presence of God in us and grow in that awareness. We see the world and us as an aspect of God and feel connected to the rest of creation.

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