© 2010-18, Prashant S. Shah, http://www.spiritual-living.in
There is a spiritual presence that stands behind the activity of our mind. It oversees our actions and understands us deeply. It also oversees the actions of people and the happenings in the world.
Although the nature of this spiritual presence is a mystery for us, we can learn to relate with it and bring it forward in our life. That is the spiritual purpose of our life.
Thus, the true purpose of our life is not concerned with improving our living standards or increasing our power in society. Such things can only have a passing value. It is concerned with the kind of person we are becoming and the extent to which we are able to involve the spiritual presence in our life.
Here we call the ‘spiritual presence’ a higher-level consciousness. We contrast it with our ordinary (mental) consciousness and show what happens when the higher consciousness begins to awaken in our inner life.
We also address the issue of finding our purpose in life and the conditions under which we have to do it.
The two levels of our consciousness
There is mortal part of us, the mental-self, which is running our outer life today. It is selfish and self-centered, and we all know it. However, there is also an immortal part of us, a soul, which gives us our sense of conscience and the feeling of unity. These two parts are like two beings within us. Both of them are represented in our mind, but individually they function at two separate levels of consciousness.
We can understand the two levels of our consciousness by COMPARING our life to the life of a tree: A tree has a trunk and leaves. The leaves come and go according to the seasons, but the trunk sustains for longer. Further, the consciousness in the leaf is essentially the same as the consciousness in the trunk. However, when the consciousness is confined to a part, the powers of consciousness are contracted. Then the consciousness in the part experiences itself as an individual with interests that are separate from the whole. Thus, the leaf experiences the burning in summer, the chill in winter, and the fear of extinction in the fall season; but the trunk does not experience this fear. It grows over the years.
In the same way, our perception and insight into life depend on how we regard and consider ourselves. If we consider ourselves to be just a body with a mind, we experience ourselves as separate individuals with selfish interests. The consciousness in us gets confined to our mind and body. And we live mainly to satisfy the desires in our mind and body. Thus we think in terms of comforts, sensual thrills, money and prestige.
However, when we consider our identity as a soul, the in-dweller, we regard our mind and body as our possessions, like our car or house. Then our consciousness expands, and we can experience spiritual qualities and the higher values of life; we regard the forms of life and the conditions we are passing through as something temporary, like the leaves that come and go.
Further, the focus of our life shifts from outer growth to inner growth. Just as the trunk of a tree grows as it passes through the seasons, our inner life also matures as we assimilate our varied experiences from our existence on earth. Thus, the experiences of our mortal life mature the seeds of our immortal life. What we develop within us, stays with us; and we experience it as the STATE of our consciousness.
The Process of Spiritual Growth
Both the ordinary and the higher level consciousness are always reflected in our mind. However, initially we function mainly at the ordinary level. That is, we serve the mental-self, and in turn it keeps us preoccupied with physical activity and egoistic pursuits.
Our soul also has its influence in our mind. However, we give it so little attention that it seems to be something vague, hesitant and far removed. The result is that we do not experience the ‘unity principle’; our ‘truth sense’ is weak; and we cannot perceive any ‘deeper purpose’ to our life.
To grow spiritually, we REVERSE this situation. We can do that by simply changing our ‘point of view’. Instead of looking upon everything from the ordinary level, and giving an ordinary meaning to higher things, we have to begin to look upon everything from the higher level, and try to give a spiritual significance to higher things. When we can do that sufficiently, it will change the ‘level’ of our perceptions. It will change ‘from where’ we see and ‘from what depth’ we see.
Gradually we can see everything as a part of a much LARGER PICTURE: Then we can situate everything correctly; we can put each thing into its proper place; we can look at the significance of what is happening; and we can also know the motives that are involved. As a result we are not easily deceived by outer appearances.
The Spiritual Purpose of our life
When we function mainly with the ordinary consciousness, we only hear the voice of our mental-self. It says: “Play it safe and do as others are doing. Don’t try to be insightful or take unnecessary risks — you may have to face unnecessary difficulties, rejection or failure.” But when we follow the ordinary consciousness we live as a pretender or worse, as a commuter — someone who has to get up every morning with the crowd and do the job just to earn enough money to pay the bills. We may live comfortably, be able to pay our bills on time, and do everything by the book. But after doing all this we still feel that such a life is not really worth living. We cannot feel enthusiastic about living in this way.
On the other hand, when we can mirror the higher consciousness in our mind we can sense the deeper purpose to our life. We feel happy to know that there is more to our life than being a commuter. We feel that there is a deeper purpose for which we have come to earth. Hence, we want to find it and serve it. And unless we do this we cannot be at peace with ourselves or feel fulfilled. So, we ask: “What is the deeper purpose of my life? What is my mission? What is the work I have come to do?”
Most people think of finding life’s work in terms of career choices. However, it is more like involving the higher consciousness in the work we do. The task is to make our mind receptive to the higher consciousness and allow it to guide our actions and reorganize our inner-life. This task is complex and each one of us has to find our own answers, not intellectually, but by actually living our life. We do it in two parts. First we look for answers to our ‘proximate issues’. And after we have done that we can ask questions relating to life issues.
When people begin their spiritual practice they often ask: “What happens if my practice is not successful?” Evidently they are looking for some tangible result –like mental or psychic power. However, if our task is to simply serve the higher consciousness, then the issue of achieving some tangible result becomes a non-issue. The effort itself becomes sacred; and the work itself becomes a privilege. Failure or success is only a mental judgement that we make against some expectation. In the true sense our failure is not pursuing what we have come here on earth to do!
The Coming of the New Era
In the book ‘The Crisis of Modern Humanity’ we explained the concept of Cosmic Cycle and showed the significance of our times by describing the ‘Signs of Our Times’. In particular, we showed the modern trend is to generate a false spirituality by making it rational or psychological. This trend is expected to continue until a ‘critical point’ is reached, when a radical change in orientation can be expected. This change would transform the conditions and purposes with which people live on earth. Something similar has also been declared by many visionaries over the past century. We return to this discussion because the critical point is near. Our purpose is not to scare our readers, but to prepare them for a smooth transition into the new era. We expect that ‘fear based systems’ of our times will be replaced in the next era by systems based on a higher-level consciousness.
To be able to participate in the making of the new era, we have to first cultivate spiritual qualities in our nature. We cannot allow fear, selfishness, greed or falsehood to motivate us. The extent of our difficulties will depend on the traits we have developed so far and how enthusiastic we are in making the necessary changes. The difficulties we may have to experience will not be caused by the new era; they will arise due to our attachment to the modern life-style, which is a product of the ordinary-level consciousness.
Today all kinds of practices have sprung up under the banner of ‘New Age Practices’. To name a few, you have past-life regression therapy, psychoanalysis, tantric worship, scientology, pyramid therapy, ceremonial magic and elaborate ritual practices. Many shops have arisen to sell ‘New Age Products’ and numerous ‘New Age Gurus’ have come in to market their ‘brand’ of spirituality. The symbols and techniques that were used to prepare a person for spiritual living have been hijacked today. People now use them with the opposite intent – to pursue their egoistic and mundane goals. The title of ‘New Age’ has also become a brand for generating business opportunities!
Much of the ‘New Age Information’ is propagated through the internet. It is cleverly adapted to promote commercial interests and gain cheap popularity. People sometimes ask: “Why true spirituality cannot become popular with the masses?” The answer is simple. Popularity requires a wide base; and the masses, particularly in our modern times, are most uncomprehending. Hence, if something has to be made popular, it has also to be brought down to the level of comprehension of the masses. On the other hand spirituality seeks to lift up the person, so that he or she can become adequate for higher knowledge. But lifting the level of our comprehension is something each one of us has to do for ourselves. It is not something that someone else can do for us. Hence, it is expected that true spirituality will remain unpopular with the masses.
People who live by selfishness, greed, sensuality, corruption and falsehood will certainly find it difficult to function in the new era. Their personal value system will collapse and they may find it difficult to adjust to the new higher-value system. Hence, they may fall out.
However, there are many persons who accept the terms of the new era. They want to participate in the change that is happening without getting disoriented. Here we address them here.
When the critical point is reached, each one of us has to make a DECISIVE CHOICE. Either we go along with the spirit of the New Era (by overcoming our preoccupation with our lower nature and our attachments to the ordinary life) or we continue to live according to the norms of the ordinary life. If we choose the former, we can catch the truth in life and get lifted. If we ignore this choice, we can fall out or face rejection.
How can I Participate?
Many spiritual seekers have asked this question in one way or another. What they really want to know is how they can actively participate in preparing for the new era. Here we indicate the way.
The ordinary-level consciousness dominates the modern world today. However, it may become dysfunctional in the new era. When a person works with the ordinary level consciousness without any higher influence, he or she becomes selfish and cunning. The ordinary consciousness dehumanizes the social life; mechanizes the work; and generates monstrous growths in society in the form of insanity, cruelty, corruption, and vulgar entertainment.
These monsters do not arise from the ordinary-level consciousness; they arise from the sub-human levels after the human being has been cut off from the higher-level influence. Without the spiritual influence of the higher consciousness a person can be easily swayed by sub-human influences that arise from the nether worlds.
Many strange and new things are arising in the modern world in the name of liberal and democratic values. They are not unexpected. They only show the decay in spirit, the decay in thought, and the decay in public life — at least from the spiritual or traditional point-of-view.
Each person has to reverse this trend within themselves. Then they can extend ‘their presence’ to the society they are involved with.
The KEY idea of Spirituality is that wisdom and the higher values of life arise naturally in the mind when we make it responsive to a higher or spiritual consciousness. Thus, wisdom is never the result of developing the ordinary consciousness, which is what is wrongly attempted through modern education! Wisdom is the result of disciplining the mind and making it responsive to the higher consciousness.
No amount of supervision or legislature can curb personal and social evils. It can only be brought about by involving the higher consciousness in the individual and in public life. We can do it by serving the higher consciousness; and it won’t happen when we remain indifferent to it.
The higher consciousness lifts our thinking, our values, and our inner worth. It will reorganize our nature, and make us responsive to higher things. Then we can use our presence to re-organised the social systems we are involved with. In this way we can participate in establishing the higher consciousness in humanity.
On Promoting a Spiritual Mission
The primary aim of any mission is to spread its message so that it can REACH the people who are capable of using it. The secondary aim is to provide a ‘support services’ to those who want to IMPLEMENT the message in their life.
However, for a mission to remain genuine, it has to also employ means that are in harmony with its aim. And that raises the question of motivation: “Should the mission be run like a ‘business for profit’ or as a non-profit (not non-profitable) service organisation?”
What is the difference? When a business is focuses on generating profits, it attract profiteers and people who side-track the organisation onto selling. A non-profit service organisation, on the other hand, can focus on providing genuine value without indulging in seductive claims and deceptions just to improve their numbers. Such an organisation will lack the means (money) to carry out its mission, but it should not change its ways just to get more money.
What are the implications? You invite people who really want to ‘serve the cause’ and not encourage people who come in with the ulterior aim of using the opportunity to grow their personal business. The people have to be attracted with qualitative benefits and not with quantitative (financial) rewards. If they lack the motivation, it is better that they don’t join.