SPIRITUALITY & ITS CONTEMPORARY SIGNIFICANCE
This article is an attempt to give an introduction to the sacred and vast subject of Spirituality, the essence of life on earth. I am fully aware that, the inexpressible and timeless reality of the ‘being’, cannot be truly put in words. Yet, if it can throw some light into the intellect of an aspirant, by offering an insight or introduction to some of the books mentioned here, I would consider that this article has served its purpose.
Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got to hold for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations — GEORGE BERNARD SHAW.
Any intelligent person, who believes in cause and effect, will encounter the following questions in his journey of life
Where have I come from?
What is the purpose of life?
Where am I going?
Persistently pursuing these questions, takes us to Spirituality, which offers answers that are convincing.
This is the exact reason that prompted Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda, in Man’s Eternal Quest, to say:
“Mankind is engaged in an eternal quest for that “something else” he hopes will bring him happiness, complete and unending. For those individual souls who have sought and found God, the search is over; he IS that something else.”
This is the essence of:
Life is an eternal PRAYER. It is for the good, in all human endeavors.
Prayer is not a spare wheel that we pull out, when we are in trouble.
It is the steering wheel that keeps us in the right path, throughout life.
This is the reason, in the Upanishads, there is a prayer for everything that is good, before each discussion. For example, in Kaivalyopanishad, “Ohm Bhadram Karnebhi: Shrunuyamadevaha:” (Bless us such that we hear all positive things)
Man essentially is the creator of his own destiny.
This is established, loud and clear, in the Vedas and the Upanishads
All scriptures establish one thing for sure, and that is, Man is not a helpless, timid and useless creature. In fact, he is the reservoir of boundless energy, courage and confidence. He is the Pinnacle of creation, and is here, on Earth, with a definite purpose.
No matter which deity we worship, the divinity is the same in all of us. The sooner we realize this, the better.
Basically we all agree that our life is what our thoughts are, hence the universal prayer in Rigveda: Let noble thoughts come to us from every side.
Hence logically, to regulate our life, we need to regulate our thoughts.
How do we achieve this, and channelize it in the way that we want?
The answer is provided by Timeless Methods of Spirituality.
We come here, to the enormous significance of BREATH, in our life. We come to this world through the gateway of birth, by breathing. And, retire from life by the exit of breath from our system. In other words, we imbibe energy through breath, and by regulating it, we regulate the energy of the system.
It has been scientifically proven, that when we are happy, our breath is harmonious. The reverse is also true. When we harmonize breath, we are happy. This is one of the greatest contributions, from sages of ancient India, to humanity. They established the relationship between Breath, Thought, Energy and Life.
By regulating the breath, we regulate the thoughts: Our life is what our thoughts are: Hence by regulating Breath, we regulate our Life.
As is said, the greatest truths are the simplest.
Spirituality is the science by which Man is able to live his life fully, moment by moment, by imbibing the Power of Now, to its fullest. We take care of each moment, and the hours are taken care of, by themselves.
Volumes have been written, on Spirituality and its essential teachings. The sole objective of these teachings is to help man live his life to its fullest.
Every man is unique, and is born with a mission. No birth is a waste. God has a plan for every human being.
Spirituality helps Man unfold and act in accordance to this Divine Plan.
There is divinity in every human being, irrespective of his caste, creed and origin. It is our duty to recognize this divinity, and enable the divine purpose of the universe, to unfold. This is how important each one of us, is.
This is why The Empires of Gauthama Budha, Jesus Christ and Swami Vivekananda have withstood the test of time, and will continue to do so. But, the Empire of Alexander, the great or Napolean have perished with the passage of time.
We do not require further testimony, to the fact that, Spirituality is Eternal and Timeless, and is the only thing that matters.
As Chinmayanada says “Spirituality does not mean retirement to a forest running away from all worldly responsibilities and putting oneself into self abnegation and physical torture eating only berries and leaves.”
No, not at all!
Spirituality is the totality of life – Living life to its fullest potential and enjoying every moment of life’s journey. We need to know at this point, what enjoyment is. It is not the cheaper thrills of life, instead the joy of knowing ourselves, the purpose of our existence and tirelessly pursuing this objective.
How do we do this? The answer lies in the depiction of the Universal Mother, in the Lalitha Sahasranamam as, “Ichashakthi Jnanashakthi Kriyashakthi Swaroopini”.
We are all bestowed with limitless potential, and boundless energy to realize ourselves and to live life to its fullest.
- Power of Desire
2. Power of Knowledge
3. Power of Action
It is quite common in the world, to see many successful people who are envied by, people who feel that they lack something else. This is the inherent urge to realize themselves – to know the truth of their being. This is why Sri Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda says “Mankind is engaged in pursuit of something else”.
This is because of the inner voice, which says, Abundance is not outside. Abundance is within and Life can change only from within. As it has been said in the Emerald Tablet, “As above : So below, As within : So without.” What seems rough in life is, only in the mind. If all of us truly wish to enlighten ourselves and brighten the world around us, the Almighty will guide us.
Power of Choice
World is complete, Life is self fulfilling and self regulatory. Our entire life is about CHOICES. We are all bestowed with the Power of Choice. Such choice is available to us, every minute. Life presents itself in multiple ways, moment after moment.
Someone recently said, Life is a Mega Supermarket, wherein commodities are available to suit everyone’s needs. We need to pick and choose what we really want. Life depends on the merit of our selection.
What life expects from us is not seriousness, but sincerity.
Power of Gratitude
True prayer is nothing but expression of GRATITUDE. It is immensely powerful. The more grateful we are, more the blessings. They get bestowed on us, in various ways.
There is a universal law that says “Whatever you focus on, expands.” As stated earlier, you are what you continuously think you are. Universe is not biased towards anybody. It functions based on principles that are eternal. The ideal life is the one in accordance with the laws of the universe.
How do we know the Laws of Universe?
As Guruji Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says,
Sadhana, Seva, Satsangh
Let us take the example of a person who unfortunately is in distress, because of debts, due to the failure of his business. It has left him penniless. He has two options:
- Thinking only about the injustice done unto him by the Almighty. Focusing on the misfortune and on the debt, thereby inviting more misfortune.
- Thinking and working towards reversing his loss. Thinking about Wealth, focusing on Wealth, so that Wealth is invited, concluding that the misfortune was just a phase in life, and not Life itself.
As stated earlier, choices present themselves to us, every day, every minute.
At this point, we come to the subject of SPIRITUALITY. We have an incorrect notion that Epics are for the Aged. There is a tremendous amount of Awakening in the youth too, to know the truth of life. In fact, all the epics give us principles by which, we will be able to realize the joy within each one of us, in order to be able to lead a fulfilling and enriching life.
I was particularly impressed by an article written by Swami Sandeepananda Giri, in the Malayala Manorama dated, July 17th, 2009. (Do send me an email, for a copy of the article, I would be happy to share it with you)
He has explained the epic Ramayana, with the depiction of Rama as Consciousness itself. Yes, Rama is Consciousness, we should understand that, by continuously reciting Rama and realize that, what Valmiki meant is Consciousness.
Seetha has been depicted as the Mind that is drawn to Gold (a symbolic representation of Desire / Lustre) and gets struck and is held captive. She is reciting Rama’s name at Ashokavanam. (The land without grief A-no, Shoka-grief), bringing consciousness back to its origin.
This is the essence of Ramayana.
All those who have delved deep into this subject, establish that Bhagavatham is nothing but Spirituality for daily living. Users manual, as is Srimad Bhagawad Geetha (Mukthi Sudhakaram by Swami Bhoomananda Theerthar, is being telecast daily at 6:15am on Asianet Channel) establishes this point.
In a nutshell – Whether it is a book, discourse, discussion or debate – If it does not help us in leading a more satisfactory, enriching and fulfilling life, it is futile. Likewise, we all need to go into the depth of teaching the essence.
uddhareth aathmanaaa Athmaanam na aathmaanamavasaadayeth
Athmaiva hy aathmano bandhuraathmaiva ripuraathmanaH (Bhagavadgita 6.5)
In this, Bhagwan Sri Krishna says, Man alone is Man’s friend and Man alone is Man’s foe. We should continuously lift ourselves, and never allow ourselves to fall prey to cheaper thrills of life. Instead should aim to move, from better to best.
See the clarity and force of this expression, UNIVERSAL TRUTH.
Due to our upbringing, environment and circumstances, we are attuned to establish the cause of failure as bad time, misfortune etc. More often than not, we somehow blame a tangible or intangible entity for our failure. Krishna cautions us that we ourselves are responsible.
Here, it will be worthwhile to mention the Universal Law of Attraction, which states very clearly, whatever we are, whatever circumstances we are in today, we have attracted it to ourselves through our thoughts, deeds and belief systems. The examples of this principle can be found in our everyday life. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, our life is what our thoughts are.
Through our thoughts, deeds and conditioning, we must prepare our mind for success, and persistently pursue this. If enough effort is put in, mighty forces will be at our command to ensure our objective becomes a reality. It is said that, Universe will conspire and rearrange itself to make our vision, a reality.
Take as many examples as possible from people, who have contributed in a great way to humanity, and we will realize that it is true. This makes each and every one of us fully responsible – we alone are responsible for our life – this is a great responsibility. Man is the creator of his own destiny.
Whatever we see today, with which we are able to run our day-to-day life, be it, a computer, an automobile, a telephone. These have been invented, because somewhere sometime, one man thought that this could be made possible, and pursued his conviction tirelessly and ultimately made it a reality.
Genius itself is nothing but vehement observation and steadfast resolution, coupled with an iron will and total devotion to one’s conviction.
We see a welcome change all across, that more and more people are getting oriented spiritually. It is because intelligence makes us think – What is it all about? Where have we come from? Where are we going? In what way can we make our life more worthwhile? How can I help my fellow humans? Meditation on such queries takes one automatically to Spirituality, as it is said Athatho Brahmagijnaasaa.
There is a very interesting story which has been reproduced by Eckhart Tolle in his Power of Now.
There was a beggar who was sitting on a box and begging. He had been sitting in this posture for years. One day a group of Sanyasis saw this man and asked him, what he had inside the box. The man replied, “What can be inside the box of a beggar, Sir? There is nothing. We had been beggars for generations and this box has been used by my forefathers also for sitting and begging, and I continue to do the same.” But as the Sadhus insisted, he opened and found a treasure of invaluable gems, diamonds and gold.
I have reproduced this story to remind all of us, that we have indomitable power and potential within us. If only we open the door to go inside us, as true power comes from within. Spirituality opens the door within.
As Vivekananda says, “Let us arise, awake, and rest not till the goal is reached.”
Praying to Mother Gayathri to illuminate our intellect and guide us on our way.
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavandhu
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As mentioned already I have given only an introduction to the subject. For those who are interested in further readings on the subject discussed above, I suggest the following books.
- Power of Now – by Eckhart Tolle
- The Art of Man Making – by Swami Chinmayananda
- The Secret – by Rhonda Bryne
- The Master Key System – by Charles Hannell
- Man’s Eternal Quest – by Sri Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda