Exploring Wisdom: Can Enlightenment be Obtained through Spiritual Practices?
“Can spiritual practices really lead to enlightenment? I have been doing my practices for over 25 years regularly and sincerely. I undoubtedly see many benefits, but I don’t see myself anywhere near enlightenment. I also do seva regularly and have sincere devotion in my heart. I don’t know what’s missing. Could you please share your thoughts on it.”
Spiritual enlightenment is a flashy and vague term. It can mean many different things to different people. I don’t know what it means to you, and what exactly are you trying to achieve?
The Yoga Scriptures don’t use the term ‘enlightenment’. Instead, they inspire the seekers to become mukta (free or liberated). Becoming mukta is a meaningful, clear, and achievable goal of spiritual journey. It means freeing yourself from all that you have created in your mind. In the Bhagvad Geeta, Lord Krishna repeatedly says that a yogi is free, and inspires Arjuna to become free. He doesn’t tell Arjuna to become enlightened.
Spiritual practices have their limitations
Spiritual practices are very essential for the wellness of your body, mind, and Spirit, but they also have their limitations. The practices are something similar to sunbathing. When you sunbathe, you experience the presence of Sun, but you are nowhere close to the Sun. You can sunbathe a million times, your tan will certainly become darker, but the distance will still remain.
Similarly, in meditation you experience something beautiful that is being emitted from the Spirit, but you are nowhere near the Spirit. You can meditate for many years, your experience will certainly become deeper, but you may still be nowhere closer to the Spirit. Though the Spirit is omnipresent, it is not accessible to all. Its presence is.
Cultivate freedom of the mind, not enlightenment
So, drop the desire to be enlightened. It is only a concept. Instead, cultivate the desire to be free in your mind. You have bound yourself, and now, through knowledge and self-effort, unbound yourself. When the mind is free, it will open the doors to the Spirit, and the drop will merge into the Ocean.
A free mind doesn’t have the desire to have its own identity, and therefore it merges into Infinity. When you are desiring for enlightenment, you have the desire to exist. You want to exist as an enlightened being, which is not possible.
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Krishan Verma is a seeker, student, teacher, and teacher trainer on the path of yoga for over 35 years. In his programs, he firmly yet gently guides each student to experience the effortless union of body, mind and spirit. The student emerges rejuvenated and serenely dynamic. Under his tutelage thousands of teachers now share the knowledge of yoga all around the world.
This article first appeared on Shudam.org.
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Neither Disturb Nor Get Disturbed
“An angry mind
Is filled with smoke
It spreads smoke
Like a smoldering fire
A mind embedded in past
Is filled with foul smell
It spreads foul smell
Like rotten food
mind filled with joy
Like a flower.”
Live like a yogi!
A yogi is very aware of what he thinks, speaks, and acts, so that any of these don’t cause disturbance in others’ minds. He looks at his intentions before he speaks or acts. If the intention is to hurt someone or put someone down, he doesn’t speak or act. If the intention is good, and if he must speak or act that may disturb others, he thinks of a skillful way to say what needs to be said, and do what needs to be done.
A yogi also doesn’t get disturbed by what others say, do, or think. He is fully aware that people will say or do things that he may not like or agree with. He is awake in the acceptance of this truth that this will happen again and again. So when it happens, he doesn’t get disturbed.
A yogi is aware that what he thinks affects others, and others’ thoughts affect him. So he is very mindful of what he thinks, and doesn’t get affected by unnecessary thoughts that may be just passing through his mind, but may not be his own thoughts.
So, by not disturbing others, and by not getting disturbed by others, he remains peaceful within himself.
“One who never disturbs anyone and one one who never gets disturbed by anyone,
and one who is free from mundane excitement, anger, fear, and anxiety
is very dear to Me.” Bhagvad Geeta 12-15
Just by living this wisdom of not disturbing and not getting disturbed, the other qualities mentioned in the above shloka will automatically dawn in you.
May you be blessed to live like a yogi, if yoga is your path!
The author, Krishan Verma, will be leading the new Sri Sri School of Yoga, launching at the Retreat Center in 2017. He has been teaching for over 30 years and developed the Sri Sri Yoga Program in 2000. He has trained more than 2,000 yoga teachers in more than twenty countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. He previously served as the global director of Yoga Research and Training of the Art of Living. Bringing a depth of wisdom and experience, Krishanji guides his students to capture the true experience of yoga through the outer study of the ancient discipline and the inner study of the self.
Originally posted on Shudham
Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.