Developing Spiritual Disciplines: Part One
After reading many scriptures and studies on ancient wisdom I couldn’t help but notice a common theme running throughout these spiritual teachings. As human beings we often find ourselves on a personal quest for happiness.
In the western world many try to achieve this happiness from careers, money, status, relationship and ego driven pursuits. This tends to be for a variety of different reasons, but the most dominant being the way society is structured through the education system, advertising, the corporate world… the list goes on.
In essence, we are spiritual beings in a human body. At some point during this experience that we call life, some of us realise that we are not satisfied with the nature of material happiness. Quite often when this realization comes about it can be confusing at first.
We can find ourselves feeling alienated in society from our friends and family as we no longer have the taste for the things we once did. Maybe our social circles start to change and we find that we no longer resonate with the people or activities that we once did. Distressing as it may be at first, it can create a shift for changes so that a new energy can come into our lives.
A monks view…
I remember speaking to a monk a few years ago, he was an educated and well spoken young man and had followed a career as a doctor before committing his life to spirituality. He explained to me that once we denounce the short term material pleasures in life that we have been programmed to chase – What are we left with? If we were to have a glass of water and empty the glass out, we are left with an empty glass. The important message here is that we must fill the empty glass with pastimes, pursuits and endeavors that will leave us truly nourished and attaining the higher taste of life.
Activities that can leave us nourished with the higher taste?
Within this three part series I will discuss some of the activities that can lead us to the higher taste. I have been fortunate in my life to learn about different spiritual practices, philosophies and people. I have consistently noticed a common theme within these teachings from around the world, the concept is simple yet has the ability to change the world… beyond what we can ever imagine.
The ingredient here is seva. In Sanskrit seva means pure selfless service which is without aspiration and desire to materially profit. Seva is widely considered the sweetest taste of spiritual practice in Vedic tradition. Selfless action requires us to serve others with no expectation.
Seva is more than just being helpful, it is an inward expression to uplift and help others around you. It is a frequency cultivated from a mood of using our own help for the benefit of others. This concept can be carried out in the smallest or largest of ways starting right now. We have the free will on this planet to choose to enrich the lives of others or take what we can for our own short lived pleasures.
How can I apply this concept into my own life?
People embodying selfless service in their own lives can apply this in many different ways; through voluntary work, through charities, helping family, helping a stranger.
Whatever the activity turns out to be is not the most important thing here – It’s that the pursuit comes from the heart. I have found great joy in mundane activities like cleaning or preparing some food nicely for a loved one. Again, it’s not the what we do, but it is the mood of how we do it.
Making a commitment to a service for example on a weekly basis is often prescribed. We all have skills, attributes and qualities that we can offer unto the world. For example; if you are a good listener, we become attuned to the people that need to be heard. I’m not saying we need to take on everyone’s problems around us, quite the opposite. We must always take care of our own well-being first and foremost.
Without our own mental, physical and spiritual well-being intact, what help can we be to our immediate surroundings? Which is why in Part Two I will explain other practices that can support this particular aspect of life. The essence of the message here is to attune our mood to help those in need for the highest good for all.
The ancient Sanskrit word prema refers to a divine love or higher love, related to ones spiritual path. Start by cultivating this mood of service and observe the shifts in your own life which occur as a result of the increase in this spiritual activity. By our mood, deeds and activity we invite the prema into our reality.
I truly believe this aspect of spiritual life to be one of the sweetest parts. It is not only others that benefit from this shift, but ourselves too. What are you waiting for?
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
By Lee Harrold