For the Highest Good – Amen!
I have the great fortune of giving a talk tomorrow at Satchidananda Ashram Yogaville titled, “Striving for Spiritual Goals.” Alas, I remembered the difference between giving people what they need vs. what they want. So…the title I think is more addressing what people ‘need’ but it isn’t necessarily presenting itself as addressing what people “want.”
If I was to re-title the talk to address what people want I might go with:
“Living every day to the fullest!”
Then, addressing what people “need,” talking about spiritual goals!
Anyway…continuing on to the discussion on spiritual goals, and perhaps a bit of an outline for the talk.
The story of Viktor Frankl – perhaps the most inspiring story of any human being that I’m aware of. His story is testimony to the Kingdom of God that is present within each of us.
To live in the reality of the Kingdom of God I’d say is the essence of spiritual work / practice, and the direction which all spiritual goals would lead.
When we are awake and aware of the Kingdom Within, what more is there?
So our duty is stay awake to the Kingdom! Or, as the Bible says, “Seek first the Kingdom!” And as Swami Satchidananda says, “Your first duty is to find the Peace within.”
The foundation for the spiritual journey is seeking and finding and knowing the Peace and the Kingdom within. From there…it is all gravy!
I mean – really – if we are awake and aware of the Kingdom of Peace/God within, what else even matters? What is it supposed to move us onward from there?
Well, in the moment, awake to the Kingdom, nothing will necessarily spur us to further action. Alas, as we’ve all experienced, the awareness seems to wander and doesn’t stay fixed. Hence, our great practice is to bring the awareness back and back again to the Kingdom.
Striving for Spiritual Goals is like setting up our life in such a way that it is more and more conducive to connecting our awareness with the Kingdom Within, with Peace.
In a sense, we can say that the end goal of all Spiritual striving is truly available in this moment. It is simply a matter of awareness! And yet, the process to spiritual success is a practice, moment to moment, of cultivating a higher quality of consciousness/awareness, such that our life is filled ever more with increasing levels of Love, Peace, Joy, Happiness, Gratitude – all the good feelings! Perhaps the best of all feelings: a knowingness that all is well, that God is Present, and God is Infinite Love, therefore – we have nothing to fear, and can fully enjoy this moment and relax completely. No stress! Is stress anything but a forgetfulness of the perfection and glory of God?
Okay then…here are the big-time quotes that steer us in the direction of realizing spiritual success and progress on a daily basis.
– “There are no great acts, only small acts done with great love.”
– “Love is a fruit of every season, within reach of every hand.”
– “Be kind whenever possible – it is always possible.”
– “Your daily life is your temple and your religion; whenever you enter into it, take with you your all.”
– “Make each day your masterpiece.”
– “Spirituality is about how you live each moment of life.”
– “Live as if the whole world is watching.”
– “Give thanks in all circumstances.”
– “Be cheerful for I have overcome the world.”
– “Do it with joy or not at all.”
– “Live your life like a prayer.”
– “Joy in life comes from living for the welfare of all.”
– “The dedicated ever enjoy supreme peace, therefore, live only to serve.”
– “Dedication, Dedication, Giving, Giving, Loving, Loving.”
– “Be self-controlled. Be Compassionate. Give.”
– The 3 levels of success: having (ehhhhh), doing (ok…), being (yeahhh!)
– “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”
– “Full effort is full victory.”
– “Never give up!” Change what you’re doing until you get what you want!
– “Your first duty is to find the peace within.”
– “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all else shall be added unto you.”
– Always affirm…”I am peaceful. I am joyful.” “Every day I am getting better.”
The direction to move in…
– free from the selfishness. Sacrifice the “I, me, and mine.” “Turn all your mines into Thines!” “I am Thine. Thy Will Be Done.”
Clear examples of spiritual goals:
– Unconditionally Love everyone and everything. (Make a list of anything you’re aware that you find challenging to love and start praying for it and blessing it whenever it is in your vicinity or consciousness – or do whatever you can for its benefit – or whatever good you can bring yourself to do.)
– See beauty and perfection in everything. (What do you consider ugly? Can you look at it longer and see some good in it, and even see it as beautiful? Persist! Let go of the judgments and opinions and see beyond the appearance and see and know the Divine Essence.)
– Abide in Peace! (When do you ever notice your sense of Peace feeling disturbed? What disturbs it? How can you heighten your awareness during those moments and stay connected to the Peace?)
But remember…no stress!
The realization of the Spiritual Goal is great, and it can seem totally unreachable and unrealistic,
so simplify it!
Approach it one step at a time.
“The thousand mile journey begins with a single step.”
How do we do this? How do we take single steps toward the spiritual goal?
Day by day. Moment by moment. Door by door. Person by person. Bite of food by bite of food. Every moment is an opportunity to practice. Don’t miss it!
Each day, have some challenge in mind. Specifically, how could you love a bit more? What discipline could you practice? How could you listen better?
Small acts of discipline on a daily basis are a great way to make progress. Build the muscle.
Discipline is largely about valuing the long-term over the short-term pleasure.
Daily effort – how?
Month by month – day by day – cultivating one virtue per month.
Yoga philosophy has a nice foundational to focus on: called Yama & Niyama.
Moderation / Continence
Purity / Cleanliness
Accepting Pain without causing pain (Accepting pain as help for purification)
Surrender to God.
Practice one per month in a specific way.
Non-violence toward your shoes. Treat them like a baby. Care for them! Sounds ridiculous, but it might very well transform your life. Treat them like they have feelings too, and that they are alive and benefit greatly from your love and affection – not in an obsessive materialistic way, just…like baby! And the shoes as a baby – don’t worry – you can leave them alone for extended periods of time and they won’t choke on a penny or anything like that.
If, during the month, you catch yourself throwing your shoes or taking them off unconsciously, don’t worry about it. Be aware. Forgive yourself. Practice better next time!
“Patience attains the goal!”
Daily effort. Daily progress. Day by day, getting better!
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!