I am often asked, “How do I know whether I am truly making progress on my spiritual path? I keep doing all the practices and yet nothing is happening.”
Spirituality is not something that you are trying to experience through your senses or your restless mind; it is essentially the fragrance of the flower that is your soul. The bud of spiritual opportunity or your divine potentiality takes its own natural time to blossom into a beautiful fragrant flower. Spiritual experience is only for those who have patience and perseverance. It is for those who have a tremendous will power to keep alive their efforts in the midst of all opposing forces. The experience comes only when the mind is purified in the fire of worldly tests and tribulations, only when the intellect is distilled by the conscientious endeavor to discriminate between the temporary and the
permanent, between the relative and the absolute. Spiritual experience is essentially a transformational and transcendental experience. You cannot remain the same after the experience, for you shall be elevated to a higher self.
This may take a lifetime; it may take only a few minutes; it all depends upon the preparedness of the soul to realize that there is no individual and that all is universal. Nothing goes to waste when you practice with sincerity. Enjoy the journey. Don’t ask. Don’t complain! Give. Don’t put conditions and waste energy on expectations. Rather, un-condition yourself, empty yourself and the cup of life will be full without you even knowing it.
However, it is a good practice to do a self-assessment from time to time to see where you are on your spiritual path. This can help to encourage you and reassure you that all your hard work is not in vain. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you do your selfassessment:
1. Am I rising above the states of happiness and unhappiness?
Normally, when something good happens exactly according to your expectations, you are elated and happy, and when something defies your expectations, you are down. The day will come when you can rise above these two states of opposite forces, and reach a point of equanimity. The day where happiness and unhappiness mean nothing and are merely forces in play, you will realize that your Self is beyond good and bad, success and failure, and thus you will be free forever.
2. Am I in a mindful, meditative state when I try to help others?
Regular practice of meditation, impartial self-analysis, and continual vigilance over one’s own mind, mindfulness, and surrender to the ultimate will of the divine are the practices that need to be practiced before you can truly help others. This practice brings about the inner divine spark that has its own pure energy, the essence that makes the difference in the lives of others.
You will see that as you become more and more spiritually centered, you are able to understand what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. Your guidance will no longer be treated as an imposition or unwanted advice, but as a loving gift with an open heart.
Thus it always boils down to the single point that we need to uplift ourselves before we are ready to help others. And when you are ready, you help without helping, you are compassionate without being compassionate, you love without loving, you do without doing. When this happens then you know you are progressing on the path of the spirit.
3. Do I know of my actions and thoughts?
As you practice meditation, mindfulness, and continual awareness, you will be able to realize that every small act of yours is but a tool to reach higher states of consciousness. Then you cannot walk like a robot. As you continue to practice this, you will see that you are walking the path of illumined consciousness. In the illumined state of your mind, you are a divine instrument born to fulfill the mission of the divine. You are naturally surrendered; the surrender is not forced, but a state of natural flowering.
4. Is my only desire to find Who Am I?
You can get rid of all earthly desires at once when you have the highest desire in your life in all its earnestness. That is the desire to be truly desire-less, without desires. You may give up the desires, but they will come back to you any moment for they have not been transformed. You need to transform the energy that is your desire of the mundane into energy that is the desire to find who you are.
When the soul is ripe enough, then the desires start to drop off by themselves and the yearning for fulfillment of mundane desires wanes. The desire for the higher mind and the higher self opens up.
Never condemn your desires; by condemning them you never win them over, they will only deepen. It is only the love for the Divine; it is your reverence and love for wisdom of the ageless masters, and your desire to put their wisdom into practice that brings about the transformation of the desires into a state of natural happiness and peace.
5. Do I love silence and have desire to talk less frequently?
The power of silence is beyond expression. It can only be experienced in the recesses of our hearts given to the Lord. Silence is the gateway to the world of the unknown. For those who seek the divine as they practice meditation and prayerfulness, the desire to talk incessantly becomes less and less important.
When we talk unnecessarily, which most of us do fairly often, we waste a lot of our energy. It has been scientifically proven that every word that we utter from our mouths requires the energy of 72 muscles! Just imagine how much energy we waste jabbering nonsense. If it could be conserved, it would yield wonders!
When we talk less and instead talk sense, we start conserving our energy that transmutes itself into the power of silence. As you non-judgmentally keep watching your thoughts, contemplating on the higher values of life, a state of silence descends in your mind and quietude surrounds you in meditation, healing your body and mind beyond comprehension. Blessed are they who have tasted the nectar of divine silence.
6. Do I have a humble heart?
As you keep humbling yourself through humility knowing that only God is the doer, you will gradually move toward a state of consciousness that is the truth. You can never get rid of your ego overnight, for its roots are deep-seated in the womb of your subconscious that spreads to millions of births before you came to this body. You have to be very patient and persevere on the path of life with humble surrender and love of the divine. The closer you come to awareness of your heart center as the seat of the Divine, humility and love will flow out of you as a spontaneous fountain.
Keep persevering on the path of life and ask yourself these six simple yet profound questions from time to time. Answering with awareness is the biggest gift that you have with you in order to explore the ground of your true being and unravel the mystery of the essence of who you are.
Sri Sri Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari (Baba) is a renowned speaker, philosopher and author of “Baba Lokenath – The Incredible Life of a Himalayan Yogi; Words of Pure Bliss and Making Your Mind Your Best Friend.” He works for the emancipation of women and children. His Lokenath Divine Life Mission treats more than 200,000 patients every year and promotes eco-friendly agricultural products. www.babalokenath.org