Exploring spirituality: A beginner’s guide

First, one must understand the true meaning of spirituality. Many of us consider ourselves to be spiritual when in reality, we are religious
Image for representational purpose only
Image for representational purpose only

Spiritual or religious?

First, one must understand the true meaning of spirituality. Many of us consider ourselves to be spiritual when in reality, we are religious. We pray to a God, we follow our religion, we practice rituals prescribed by it and we think this is spirituality. But spirituality is beyond religion. Religion is only the kindergarten of spirituality. It teaches us the ABC of God. It introduces God to us but to attain God, to realise God, we have to turn to spirituality.

The myth or the truth?

We live with superstitions and myths. Because all of us have been conditioned and taught to believe in theology based on our scriptures, we consider God as somebody who lives in a place called heaven. We believe in hell. We think that Spirits or Souls of dead people haunt us. But is all this true? No. Neither is there a physical place in the sky called heaven nor does God live there. In fact, God is not who we think God is! Ghosts and Spirits are a figment of our imagination. The fact is that we do not know the truth and this is why we must turn to spirituality.

What is spirituality?

Spirituality is the science of the Spirit, the Soul, the Atman. The Soul is the very Power of life within us, the energy that gives us breath. The moment the Spirit or the Soul leaves, we experience death. A dead body has no Spirit or Soul. Spirituality reveals the truth. It makes us discover our true reality—that we are not this body that we appear to be, we are not even the Mind and Ego that thinks it’s ME. We are the Divine Spirit. This Spirit is Power or Energy. Today even science endorses that every cell of human existence is energy. It is God's energy manifesting as you and me. When we realise this, we are liberated from all suffering and pain. 

What is a spiritual life?

Most of us are confused about what a spiritual life is. Being spiritual does not mean we become a hermit and live an ascetic life as a renunciate or a recluse in a forest. Or we wear saffron robes and a rosary. A spiritual life is about realising the Spirit, our true self. It is awakening to the truth about who we are, the Divine Soul, the Spirit. It is about transcending the body, mind and ego. It is overcoming the desires, and temptations of the material world. It is about Enlightenment! 

We need to go on a spiritual quest

One may read spiritual books, one may listen to audios, or videos, or browse the net for information, but for one’s spiritual growth or evolution, one has to go on a quest or a search for spiritual Enlightenment. One must ask the question—Who am I in reality? Am I this body that will die? Am I the ego that keeps on saying ‘I’? Am I the mind that I cannot find? We have to Ask, Investigate and Realise the Truth. When we go on a quest to realise the spiritual truth, we start our journey.

Taming the monkey mind

On our spiritual journey, one has to transcend the mind and the ego, because it is the Mind and the Ego, the ME that takes us away from spirituality. The mind creates fear, anxiety, misery, while the ego screams, ‘I, me, mine!’ We have to drop the ego and discipline the mind. The mind steals our peace as it jumps from thought to thought. It is only when we tame the mind and make the monkey mind a monk that we can experience peace and bliss. We have to cut the tail of the Monkey, the EY, that is ever yearning and ever yelling. We have to be in silence, meditation, and contemplation in the state of consciousness.

Why we need a Guru

To be enlightened, one also needs the help of a genuine Guru, a spiritual master, a mentor, who himself has realised the truth. It is a Guru who takes us from darkness to light, from ignorance to Enlightenment. Without a Guru, we may falter or not be able to attain Enlightenment.

Realisation of the truth

The realisation of the truth liberates us from the triple suffering, from the pain of the body, the misery of the mind and the agony of the ego. It liberates us from the cycle of death and rebirth. We realise that death is a bend to transcend. If we do not realise the truth of who we are, that we are the Divine Soul, then, the Mind and Ego, ME is reborn to redeem its unsettled Karma. Spirituality leads us to several realisations. We realise that heaven and hell are not physical places we go to but are experienced when we are reborn on earth to redeem our Karma. We realise that this whole world, this cosmos is nothing more than a cosmic drama. We are actors and we all come and go. We realise that God is not a person or a saint, God is a Power that no one can paint. God is the Supreme Immortal Power, nameless, formless, beginningless and deathless. The Divine power we call God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient. To realise God, we must yearn for God, more than a miser yearns for gold, more than a lover yearns for the beloved and more than a child yearns for its mother that it has just lost. One must live with discipline, dispassion, discrimination and the desire for the Divine.

The importance of spirituality

It is the spirituality that helps us attain the ultimate goal of human life—to realise we are the Divine Soul. This is the secret to living a life of peace and bliss! 

The author is a spiritual leader and the founder of AiR Institute of Realization and AiR Center of Enlightenment

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