Dear Ektaji, I have been with a spiritual organizaion for 15 yrs now, have done courses, seva, satsang(less of seva though :-), could be better) … However, one question that has never been understood is going within. Journey from external to internal. I am referring to your post – https://ektabathija.com/why-do-i-feel-stagnant-in-my-spiritual-growth/
Can you help understand what is meant by internal, is it the physical body, or mind , five senses… i am a bit lost . Have heard and read a lot about happiness within , but they remain as concepts and doesn’t translate into experience …
The journey from “external material body to the inner self” is the only journey worth taking:
It is the only action worth doing, That is the only meaningful aspect in this samsara. All else in this samsara is meaningless. All else is just a futile exercise.
Haven’t you wondered about life? How long can you keep doing the same things – wake up, go to work, go to the grocery store, cook, clean, take care of family, eat, have sex, sleep and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat. It seems we are stuck on an endless loop. All this seems to be meaningless. There must be something bigger and higher than this utter nonsense! Hasn’t someone inside you knocked and made you realize that your life sounds like a broken record? How long will you continue doing this? Aren’t you tired yet?
If not, then better get tired! Because getting tired is the first step. If you don’t get tired of this vicious cycle, you will never get out of it. Yes, there is an ‘out of it’. That is the real place to be. Rumi said, ‘Out beyond the realm of right-doing and wrong-doing, there is a field, I will meet you there!’
Are you there yet? If not, get tired, because getting tired is definitely the first step! You cannot move ahead if you do not take the first step.
And why is ‘getting tired’ important?
Because if you don’t get tired, there will not be a sincerity within. Spiritual heroism cannot be achieved by lukewarm intention. It requires ‘heroic commitment’. And understanding your own ‘Self’ cannot be achieved by anything short of spiritual heroism!
What is ‘heroic commitment’?
You need an unquenchable thirst for understanding ‘what is the real meaning of all this samsara’? Until you are involved tirelessly in the drama of this samsara, you will never be able to get out of the web of samsaara. The moment you get tired of it, you will have the strength and courage required to look elsewhere.
Why do I say, it requires ‘courage and strength’?
Because its very easy to follow the herd. It requires courage to look away from the herd and think maybe there is another path. Maybe, the way the majority [junta] is flocking towards is completely wrong. This may sound revolutionary but unless you are up for a revolution, there cannot be a ‘change’ within you. So think about it, do you have the courage?
If yes, then you are ready to dive into spirituality.
But now, your mind will say, I have been in spirituality for ‘X’ years, doesn’t that count?
NO, its doesn’t my dear. Going to school does not get you ‘paid’. Until now, you were in school. When the actual research work begins, your internship with the School of Spirituality begins, then there is some pay, not much, but some. The path is long, its cumbersome, you have to be ready to input some serious ‘exertion’ towards it. Ask yourself, are you ready for that?
If you are not yet ready, don’t worry, God can wait, He has a lot of time, He is not in a hurry. You can come when you are ready! 🙂 Because the ‘Internship qualifications’ in this school of spirituality cannot allow admission to someone who does not qualify. Your ‘readiness to exert’ to attempt to satiate that ‘burning thirst for Truth’ is your only Qualification. If you lack commitment, you still need some more time in school. The rules are strict for your benefit.
So essentially, even if you have been doing seva, sadhana, satsang, listening to knowledge, being in the company of the Guru, etc but you lack the ‘thirst’,’courage’, & ‘commitment to exert relentlessly’, you will NOT get there. Until the time, you have one foot in the ‘boat of samsaara’ and the other foot in the ‘boat of spirituality’, you will NOT get there.
If you have the ‘thirst’ and you have the ‘courage’ and you are ready to ‘exert’, then what?
Then the journey begins. Only a person who takes the journey can experience it! So be brave, take the leap of faith! Start applying the beautiful ancient wisdom.
The levels are 7 but the steps are just 4:
- The journey begins at the Body with Yoga and Seva
- then moves toward the Breath with Pranayama and
- then moves towards the mind/intellect/memory/Ego with Satsang AND Self-study or application of scriptural knowledge, once you master this step of drowning yourself in self-study
- then the movement towards the Self happens automatically through Meditation.
People listen to the scriptural wisdom like listening to music, here is where the downfall happens and you do NOT move ahead. Just listening is NOT sufficient, people fail to understand this and that’s why they do not experience deep meditation. The biggest obstacle between you and your ‘SELF’ is ‘Mind/Intellect/Memory/Ego’. Therefore drown yourself into intensive self-study.
There are many avenues to begin. You can go to a monastery. Alternatively, you can join a session in https://gnyanasangha.com/
In these sessions you will be given homework and exams as well. This will help you understand the difference between ‘gnyana’-knowledge and ‘swadhyaya-selfstudy’!