A Practical Guide to The Spiritual Life
A Guide To The Spiritual Life
There is philanthropy, altruism, benevolence, inspirational and motivational books … and then there is the spiritual life. While they may all seem necessary and complement each other, they are at the same time very different. The first three would lead to kindness, generosity, unselfishness and self-sacrifice, all aspects of the spiritual life. The last two, while complimenting the others, may lead further to inspiration and a desire to serve, to be the best that one can be in a given situation. This may be work, duty to others, sacrifice … there are many.
So why is Spirituality so different? The spiritual life is, for the most part, conscious love of a Source or Truth, and the means required to tap into this Source. Like everything else in the outer life, the inner life also has a goal or purpose, and gives us methods to arrive at this Golden Shore, this deep peace within. The spiritual life is the song of oneness, self expansion, multiplicity and self-transcendence. It is the life of prayer, of meditation, of love of God, of inner longing and the aspiring cry to manifest this longing, in the world in which one lives.
Altruistic qualities, as well as some descent books, will lift us up and give us the necessary drive to succeed in outer excellence and affluence. They may, but need not elevate us to the Higher life. The spiritual life feeds the Soul, and will last forever. The great prophet Solomon knew this. His message was carried further by the great Christian Saint Thomas A Kempis, in his immortal book, The Imitation of Christ. (Book 1, chpt 1, P27).
“Vanity of vanities. All is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.”
Means of Loving God
Speaking of prayer, the Indian Christian saint, Sadhu Sundar Singh, in his book, At The Feet of The Master, refers to prayer as ‘an effort to lay hold of God himself, the author of life.’ He continues, “For such men who pray, God reveals himself in the hidden chamber of the heart and there he speaks with them … prayer is breathing in of the Holy Spirit. God so pours his Holy Spirit into the life of the prayerful, that they become ‘living souls’.” Pages 47+48. Of course Sadhu Singh is speaking of advanced prayer, interior prayer. The 21st century Visionary-Seer, Sri Chinmoy, continues:
"Prayer is something absolutely intense and upward-soaring. When we pray, we feel that our existence is a one-pointed flame soaring upward. From the soles of our feet to the crown of our head, our whole being is invoking and calling upwards. The very nature of prayer is to reach God by going up."
"Meditation is something wide and vast that ultimately expands into the Infinite. When we meditate, we throw ourselves into a vast expanse, into an infinite sea of peace and bliss, or we welcome the infinite Vast into us. Meditation is constantly growing and expanding into peace, light and delight. When we meditate, we gradually see, feel and grow into the entire universe of light and delight.”- Sri Chinmoy.
“The way to get the utmost from meditation is to meditate according to the soul's necessities and demands. We must not feel that just because we are sitting quietly for five or ten minutes our meditation is going well. Meditation is not that easy. It requires conscious effort. The mind has to be made calm and quiet; at the same time, it has to be dynamic and vigilant like a fortress and not allow any enemies to enter. The heart must be like a pure and blossoming flower, opening fully to the light of the soul. The soul must come to the fore and spread its inner light all around. This is real, integral meditation.” Prayer-world; Mantra-world; Japa-world, Agni Press, 1974.
Quote from Sri Chinmoy
"Meditation does not mean just sitting quietly for five or ten minutes. It requires conscious effort. The mind has to be made calm and quiet. At the same time, it has to be vigilant so as not to allow any distracting thoughts or desires to enter. When we can make the mind calm and quiet, we will feel that a new creation is dawning inside us." -Sri Chinmoy
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