What is Spiritual Growth?
Many spiritual concepts, spiritual growth is a misnomer. In reality, the spirit does not grow or shrink : it is always the way it is. What is spirit anyway? It is that which knows that it exists. Other names for spirit are life force, soul, awareness or beingness.
As religious people, we are involved with a certain amount of traditional, ceremonial, and dogmatic behaviour. We do it automatically, because when we were children, we were simply told to behave and even think in a prescribed way. But, do we really experience spiritual growth – to understand this, we have to know what constitutes spiritual growth.
Perhaps, all traditions are important step stones but spiritual growth occurs when the spirit grows and the ego shrinks. Any spiritual growth happens only in direct relationship to a shrinking ego : without a shrinking ego, there is no spiritual growth.
Example of spiritual growth versus a growing ego:
If we do a good deed selflessly without the slightest consideration of the rewards or fruits, as a result, we grow spiritually. If we do that good deed and feel proud or even simply good, we strengthen the ego. Tricky but logical, is it not? If the fruits of action do not affect the person, he is free from action.
Why are we interested in spiritual matters? Why do we bother to look for God?
The answer if we are honest is that we are trying to survive , to save our soul and if possible, even our skin.
There are always those who insist they have all the answers and there are also those who laugh at these statements without investing as much as a second thought. Maybe the answer closer is closer than we think and already known by the only person we know we can trust – our self.
If we ignore the non essential and look for the essential, the real meaning, then all religious scripture and all religions do agree more than disagree. All religions have followers who seem to be more concerned with external matters but there are always a few who go deeper; they are called mystics, saints, self-realized and so on. When we study their writings they all agree in the most important points : there is God, that God can be found at the centre of our being and we can unite with God to become One. Essentially all scriptures agree in essence , but only when we bother to look f deeper for the real meaning.
Is there are spiritual comfort for the aged, terminally ill or anyone facing death ?
We may draw strength from our belief systems. All religions including natural belief systems agree that life goes on and agree on existence of God.
We may draw strength from science. According to science we cannot really say that we are able to destroy something or anything so completely that it fades into non- existence. We can only change the objects shape and condition. Even if we burn something and “destroy” its ashes, the object continues as energy and the awareness as awareness. The reason that awareness continues is that it did not develop out of dead matter or lifeless energy. Those materialistic scientists who laughed and promised proof that awareness is nothing but a by product of biological processes failed to do so. Other scientists are now confirming the wisdom of ancient sages and saints.
We may draw strength from personal experiences of others. There are more than a few people who have had out-of- body experiences and returned from clinically dead to tell us about it.
We may draw strength from real witnesses : Sages, Rishis, self realized persons and advanced yogis.
We may draw strength from our spiritual exercises and personal experience. Try to become one with your object of devotion, concentrate fully on God, or simply love your inner self to a point that only pure awareness continues to exist and that leads to the inner bliss and beingness. Fear is the result of our identification with body and mind. Both will eventually cease to exist and are not needed for or well being.
God Bless you all Adapted from APSA website article by Dr Raghwa Sharma
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