A Discussion With Manatita on Spiritual Philosophy - Part 8
Since life is but a continuous
Series of experiences,
Everything ultimately helps me
Towards my final enlightenment.— Sri Chinmoy
An Ongoing Adventure
In the seventh part of this spiritual adventure, my Brother, Manatita helped me, and I hope you too, with some questions about forgiveness and self-protecting. In this eighth part, we will continue with some questions about the main key to enhance spiritual progress. I hope you'll enjoy it as I did.
Spiritual Adventure, Part 8
Ioannis: Yes, my Brother, I understood, and I agree. Let's move on to the next question.
What is the main key to enhance spiritual progress?
Manatita: Aspiration is the beginning and the end of the journey. This is a birthless and deathless Path and God is not static, but constantly transcending Itself. The Christ’s message, is quintessentially one of a Kingdom of Heaven, the spirit of the principles needed are wrapped in the Beatitudes: Forgiveness, Mercy, Love, spiritual peacemaking … prayer, both verbal and interior and so forth.
However, the key is to ‘knock’ and the door will be opened. ‘Seek’ and you will find. When the child is hungry, it cries and the mother comes running as she recognizes a need in the child. In the same way, we have to long, yearn or cry for the Divine.
Aspiration is the burning intensity for Light - the inner hunger - without which nothing can be achieved. Sri Ramakrishna used to roll on the ground until his skin bled: “Mother”, he would say, “Another day has gone and I still have not seen you.” The rich man has ambition, as without this strong pull for riches, he is unlikely to become rich.
Desire is the pull of this world and Aspiration is the intensity, the ‘pull’ of the Higher or inner world. We start our journey with longing and end it with longing … an ever-transcending road that never ceases, as God is an ever-evolving God.
A friend in Kenya asked me two weeks ago, how to acquire this longing. Hard to say. We utilize that little inner spark for prayer and service; for spiritual practices until it grows brighter, stronger. Still, we use the self-effort only to be taken to the place where we come to realise that all is His Grace. Yet self-effort is paramount. They are twins.
Nisagadatta said that it was not necessary to speak. The ‘clever’ devotee put up his hand and asked enquiringly: “Master”, then why do you speak?”
Nisagatta smiled and said: “Only to take you to the point where you will realise that speech is not necessary.” Longing, yearning or Aspiration, takes us eventually to that deep Absolute Silence.
Ioannis: I think that some answers you gave - like this one - have so much density of information and knowledge that they could be enough for a seeker to spend months or years working on them! But we have readers who need more help to understand, so let's stay here for a while.
I will start with a question I have heard many times in my discussions with people.
"I knock, and I knock, it seems like forever, but the door doesn't open! What do I do wrong and my prayers do not be answered?”
Manatita: These may be good questions, but they are not those of the God-seeker. One has to be tolerant true, but these questions are coming from the mind. These are the ones we have to reason with, and reasoning isn't always a good thing. It pleases the mind, but it never serves the Heart.
What is 'knocking and seeking?' They are the cries or longing of those who love God. The spiritual beginner has to cry like the child and again, just as the child takes joy in his mother's presence, so too, the seeker has to delight in the Lord. Why am I not tired after thirty-six years? Why do I not question God?
Creator and creation are one and when we try to separate the Absolute from Its manifestations, we will always have problems. We have to serve man, we have to be good to our neighbours; fit in at work, on the buses and trains and so forth. We cannot love God whom we have not seen, unless we love man whom we can see. I speak a lot about the inner life, but the spiritual life is very practical. What is not God? In that sense, the outer life is also His manifestation and we need to serve.
Knocking should be a joy and not a chore. If it is, then the Heart is missing and if the Heart is missing, then true longing is not there, but expectation is. Peace begins when expectation ends. Patience is so necessary! Patience is the ability to wait, knowing by Faith that one is experiencing or will experience the joy of the Lord. Spiritual Masters illustrate this with stories. One such one goes like this:
A Yogi and a drunkard were sitting under a tree, when the Seer Narada passed by. "Narada!" said the Yogi. "Great servant of God. Can you tell me how long before I realise God?" "Four more incarnations." Said Narada. "Four more incarnations!" Said the Yogi. I do not want to know God anymore. Then he got up and walked away. Now it was the turn of the drunkard.
"Narada, O great servant of God! Can you answer the same question on my behalf?" Narada looked at him and smiled sweetly. "Do you see the leaves on this tree? This is how long it will take you to realise God." The drunkard immediately got up and started singing and dancing and praising God. "So I would definitely realise God." He said to Narada. "You have given me hope. I will definitely realise God." This drunkard had hope and was prepared to wait. He didn't mind how long. So Narada blessed him and he realised God. So you see that patience is necessary.
When people are sad that the door isn't opening, it shows a lack of faith … a half-hearted attempt to love God and a lack of service to God's creation. Service expands the Heart and makes us very receptive to the Spirit. It also gives us tremendous and sustainable Joy. I went to Kenya to serve, but I cannot say that I did not receive myself. For it is in giving that we receive; in serving without expectations that we expedite our spiritual progress.
Finally, it is so useful to look at Spirituality from the Yogic standpoint! In Yoga, what we are called upon to do is to transform our own nature … to be accountable and responsible … to be the change we wish to see. Yoga is the transformation of our own nature. To worry about God, or others Path or anything else is to complicate the simplicity of Spirituality. We need to be concerned about our own mirrors.
Let us Love, prayer, serve soulfully, meditate, offer gratitude and generally strive to be good and see what happens. If we wish to swim, we cannot say that the water is too cold. We have to jump in and take instructions. To pray without expectations … to love for Love's sake … to serve humans, the outer aspect of the expressions of God.
Ioannis: So, is it true that the prayers of a God-seeker, who realise that all is His Grace, must be prayers of thanksgiving and not of asking?
Manatita: It is good to ask, and much of this depends on the nature of the soul and its circumstances. This is the prayer of entreaty.
We ask for wisdom, fortitude ... not for a lesser burden, but for a stronger Heart. We ask for strength or God's Grace to guide us ... this is the positive side.
Go into a chapel and have a look at the prayer board, then you will see some of the basic things that humans ask for. They are plenteous!
The second prayer is the prayer of Surrender. May Thy Will be done in and through me. I suppose we can say that there is a third. The prayer of praise ... adoration. Offering Gratitude...
Before we get there though, we sometimes ask due to the reason I mentioned above. However positive, initially we tend to want or seek help from the Divine.
This is healthy as God can and does respond. Just not always in our own way. After all, She knows what's good for us ... has our inner progress at Heart.
End of part 8.
To be continued… (link to part 9)
© 2018 Ioannis Arvanitis