Spirituality: A Way to Live, A Way to Return
Nowadays, irrespective of how simple or complex a piece of equipment, appliance or gadget we purchase is, a user manual is included. Consumers are advised to go through it to gain better understanding of the parts, function, care and maintenance of the equipment. We seem to be able to master the operations of every model of even the most complex of cameras, mobile phones, laptop computers and an endless list of gadgets. But have we ever given serious thought to the human body? Where do we find the care and instruction manual for this intricate masterpiece? More importantly, have we acquired mastery of its functions and operations?
Sure, we have doctors, fitness trainers and nutritionists, to name but a few – professionals who advise us on issues of the physical. But what about the essence of the human body – our true form, our only reality – the soul or spirit? The saints tell us that the outer garment is simply that, and serious thought should be given to the care and nourishment of the soul as it is immortal, divine and of noble heritage. It outlives this physical shell and bears the consequences of choices that are made by the weakened unruly mind, which itself is under the domain of the senses. The soul or spirit is what breathes life and gives form and meaning to the physical.
In The Path of the Masters it is explained: “The individual soul or spirit is the real man, it is a spark from the infinite Light, a drop from the ocean of Being. As such, it is one with Him, one in substance, one in qualities. It is in the soul that all consciousness and all power resides. All below the soul, even the mind itself, is unconscious, automatic and mechanical in action. In fact, everything in existence is entirely dependent upon spirit for its life and activity. Even the humblest plant or the smallest insect lives and carries on its activities by virtue of spirit, the tiny spark of spirit that gives it being. All else in man passes away or is discarded by him on his upward flight towards perfect freedom.”
The Masters, through their discourses, remind us that although we are housed in a body, we are not the body – we are spiritual beings going through the experience of being human. Thus they maintain that it is only through the process of spirituality, of spiritualizing ourselves, that we are able to empower our soul consciousness, acknowledge its existence and free it from the bondage of the mind. They tell us that we have to work on overcoming our weakness of strongly identifying ourselves with the outer physical form and the material world. Our top priority should be to consider our obligation to our spirit. And the practical way to instill or apply spirituality to our lives is through the process of meditation as taught by the Masters. After initiation by a perfect living Master, meditation consists of withdrawing the attention to the eye focus through repetition of the holy Names, contemplation on the form of the Master, and listening to the inner Sound for a minimum of two and a half hours daily. The Masters tell us that the instant we sit for meditation, we actually begin to tread the spiritual path, and it is also at this moment where concepts begin to be left behind and experience begins.
Meditation is a cleansing process for the mind, whereby it gradually becomes purified, refined and uplifted. Moreover, it enhances the development of positive human qualities such as humility, kindness, compassion, patience and understanding. These positive qualities enable us to think positively; they strengthen our mind to act in our long-term interest. We develop a better and more accurate understanding of the reality of our human condition, and are thus better equipped to face the ups and downs of life with equanimity.
Listening to spiritual discourses, reading spiritual literature and attending to seva are tools that can inspire us to pursue our meditation practice with fervour. We can further support our spiritual endeavors by being selective and vigilant about the things we choose to see, hear, talk or think about, as well as the company we keep. Spirituality and meditation should take a practical shape in our lives, reflecting in daily action and in our whole routine. We are advised:
If we want to achieve higher levels of spirituality, we must take action. We must take the steps that will lead us in that direction. Our actions must reflect our spiritual desire. If the desire for communion with Shabd is not reflected in our actions, either we are confused or we do not want to evolve spiritually. Our spiritual desire has to be expressed in the way we live, in the way we speak, in the way we think and adhere to the principles of the path. Most of all, it has to be expressed through our meditation.
The spiritual path gives us much wisdom, guidance, light, sustenance, strength and consolation. It is, in fact, the ‘user’s manual’ for the upkeep of our soul. The Master is our spiritual mentor, our spiritual Father. By initiating us, he starts us on our homeward journey. And by doing so, he also gives clear purpose and direction to our life. The Masters advise us that by practising meditation daily, we can embark on the spiritual journey and, in the process, develop clear thinking, peace of mind and inner joy. And by perfecting this method, we gain liberation from the cycle of birth and death, and experience eternal bliss.