Simplifying Spirituality - Your Road to Finding Yourself
Spirituality in its simplest form is about finding out who we really are.
To me, spirituality in its simplest form is about finding out who we really are! To put it in words that would be in harmony with how most religions or philosophies define it, we could say, “Spirituality is the quest to get to know the spirit that embodies us." This definition seems simple enough but in practical terms, it's hard to wrap your head around it. The dictionary definition “The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things." doesn’t fully work either. So let's do a simplifying exercise instead:
Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, be in the most relaxed state possible for you. Now for a moment consider disassociating yourself from happiness, joy, bliss, and the lack thereof, including sadness, anger, irritation… would you still exist?
Next consider disassociating yourself from love, pride, accomplishment and the lack thereof including failure, disappointment, dejection... would you still exist?
Moving on to the harder ones now, consider disassociating from the awareness of your body - every organ, every part, just momentarily… would you still exist?
The hardest one now, consider disassociating from every thought form in your mind, it seems difficult but most would agree that it's possible, so just ponder over it… would you still exist?
Going a step further, consider disassociating from your feeling self, experiential self & thinking self, all three at once… would you still exist?
If your answer is ‘yes’ to all the above, congratulations you got acquainted with what you i.e., the spirit isn't and that's half the battle won. If your answer is ‘no’ to any one of the above, we need to debate in the comments section below:-)
The other half is the harder one, the part to which the multi-billion dollar spiritual and allied streams are devoted to, i.e., getting to know ‘What The Spirit Is’. Being born in the Eastern Traditions even though not in a very religious household, the concept of soul or spirit was never entirely alien to me. However, there are many to whom the concept of us being beyond our body and mind, us being a spark from the source of all life force is hard to relate to. I can take references from various religions and philosophies of the world that would greatly aid me in explaining this but the entire purpose of this blog is to make learning about the spiritual self simple, so I will take the aid of storytelling instead.
Once there was a little girl named Sumangali, the auspicious one, she was sitting by a stream in the lush Sundarbani forest. She saw a young man ushering his cows to graze, playing a beautiful tune on his flute. Enchanted by the music, the girl went closer to find out who was this man unseen in the area before, yet so familiar to her. She was mesmerised to find he had a gleaming bluish tinge on his skin and wore a beautiful peacock feather on his turban.
The girl asked “Who are you oh beautiful one & where are you from?”, the young man with the blue aura replied, “It doesn't matter who I am, just know that you are just like me, eternal and beautiful & I am here from afar so you could hear the call of my music.”
The girl got teary-eyed and said, “But I am not eternal, I am young and beautiful now but as I get old, my body will wither like my grandmother’s and I will die as she did.” The young man realised the girl was mourning the loss of her grandmother. He said to her “Can you sing a song for me to play my flute to?” The girl was reminded of the song her grandmother sang to her every night. She sang the song sobbing softly at first but slowly she remembered every smile, every hug her grandmother lavished on her. She felt her love again and smiled.
Seeing this the young man said, “Who said she died, she lives on in you”. The girl felt somewhat happy to hear this & said, “Yes, I think she lives on in the song.” To this, the young man replied, “Someone else would sing this song tomorrow, would she live in the song then?”
A little confused the girl said, “So she lives in my heart, in the love I feel?” the young man said lovingly, “Your heart may be overwhelmed by another feeling next instant or this feeling of love may diminish over time, would it mean that she would stop living in you?”
The girl thought over it and said, “No, the next time I think of her, I will feel her again, so maybe she lives in my memories and in my mind.” Smiling encouragingly, the young man added, “Maybe, but memories tend to fade and your mind waivers, it thinks of both good and bad, would it not taint your most serene grandmother?”
The girl was in deep thought, she said “Oh learned one, I see where you are going with this. I feel my grandmother in what seems like my entire being, which is pure & won’t ever taint her presence. Even if I don’t think of her for years, there she will remain for as long as I am. But I am unable to articulate where she lives on?”
With finality, the blue one said reassuringly, “She lives on in your soul, the eternal, pure, ageless you. She loved you very deeply and supported your soul to learn and grow, so there she lives on eternally.”
Realising the little girl was an initiate who just learnt her first lesson about the spirit and is curious to know more, he recited the Verse 20 from the Second Chapter of the Bhagwad Gita, the eternal message of spiritual wisdom from Lord Krishna. Even though he knew she wasn’t ready to understand it fully just yet. And in doing so, he planted in her the seeds for the lessons to come….
na jāyate mriyate vā kadāchin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śhāśhvato ’yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śharīre
The soul is neither born nor does it ever die; nor having once existed, does it ever cease to be. The soul is without birth, eternal, immortal, and ageless. It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.