Leading a Spiritual Life

Today, we have solutions to things using various forms of advanced technology, but we don’t have the means to prevent problems in the first place. We build hospitals to cure, but not to prevent illnesses from occurring. We have police and law enforcement to enforce laws, but we don’t prevent the crimes from taking place to begin with (think Minority Report). We have formal education that teaches us how to make a living, but it doesn’t teach us how to live (and how to think). We are fundamentally driven by profit. For instance, if you go to a doctor in India, it wouldn’t be out of the norm for them to call you repeatedly for “followups” so they can make more money, but is that really in the patient’s best interest? Things like these clearly violate the first law of business, which we will delve into later.

We focus too much on surviving (or existing) and not so much on living itself, let alone thriving. Survival could mean food, clothing, and shelter. We get sucked into the grind of the everyday things and lose sight of the bigger picture of our lives only to get to the very end with nothing but regret. Life here means leading a life of integrity, peace, happiness, and inspiring others by how you lead your life (through example).

We are fixated on the allure of the physical/material world. We want to get things in life, so we do the work and make the mistake of thinking those things will give us (eternal) happiness, but it never works out that way.

We spend time doing physical exercise every week, but how much time do we spend doing mental exercise (exercise of the mind), which is vastly more important than the physical? It’s our central point of intelligence that controls everything we do, yet we say “we don’t have time for it”; the reality is we don’t have time not to.

The thing is we are all spiritual beings, but most of us have forgotten this due to the attraction of the physical world and getting caught up in the “everyday grind”, so to speak.

As the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has said:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

In some cultures, the Indian sub-continent for instance, some women put a small colorful mark on their forehead, which symbolises a soul. It’s a reminder that we are souls (not just bodies). We have our connection with the Almighty through our mind.

Our body is a temple and we are a deity. Our body is a car and we are the driver. The soul drives the body just as electricity drives the fan. Our body is simply the combination of five elements: air, water, fire, earth, and aether. This is all matter, not the spirit. Human body + soul = human being.

Soul is eternal. You can never die. This is when someone dies, instead of saying they passed away, some might say they left their body on a certain date. As a soul, the only things we take with us in the next life are our mind, values, and intelligence. Everything else remains in the physical world.

We are, by nature, peaceful souls. By design, we are peaceful. That’s our normal state. For instance, when we get angry, we enter into a state that is alien to us. This is why when we are done getting mad, we come back to a state of peace. That’s our default state. The way to never lose control of your emotions is to remember you are a peaceful soul.

The purpose of mind is to think. The problem is most of the time we let our monkey mind take over our intelligence and values, but we can always choose to change the direction of our thoughts.

Ideally, our intelligence is the leash that should control the mind, but more often it doesn’t. We don’t do things we know we should do because we let our mind take over our intelligence.

Let’s talk about values. We get values from our past lives, parents, environment, and our own willpower — these four are different for everyone. But as a soul, the fifth value we have are seven things from the outset, which is same for everyone: purity, peace, power, love, happiness, knowledge, and bliss. We need to keep this “fifth folder” open at all times. The point is all souls are pure to begin with. Due to the attraction of the physical world (earth), most of us have let these values dilute, but they are still there if you look within.

Karma is the journey of our soul (not our body). Our karma is made of thoughts, words, and actions. As a soul, we need to always strive to do good karma, which becomes our values. When we do good karma, we receive blessings from others, which in turn brings us eternal happiness. That is the true currency of the soul, which we redeem in future life. The relationships we have in life are a result of our “karmic account balance”, which is between souls. We must never give sorrow to anyone through our mind, words, or actions.

It’s a fallacy to think that God writes our future. He doesn’t. Our karma dictates our future. According to Law of Karma, everything happens for the best in the past, present, and future.

What we do (Karma) is what we get (Destiny). Our equation needs to be clear. That’s the power of karma. There are no miracles or coincidences in life; no such thing as luck either. We will always get what we give. We must never question life. Everything is fair, always. What we give (to others) is what we get (in return). We don’t do good karma with the intention of getting.

Now that we have talked about the soul and the three eternal things it carries with it in future births, let’s try to understand spirituality. We often confuse spirituality with (organized) religion, but it has nothing to do with that. You can practice them together. You can even practice spirituality without (organized) religion, but not vice-versa.

Spirituality is nothing but reminding ourselves that we are souls and we need to act that way. It’s about living in soul consciousness (not in body consciousness). It deals with the eternal things and not the body or material things that are fleeting. It’s about reminding ourselves every day we are peace-loving souls and to remember how we treat anyone is how we treat everyone.

Spirituality starts with the Truth. It means leading a true life. For anything to be true, it has to be always true and it has to be the same for everyone. Gravity is one such Truth. It doesn’t discern or discriminate in different places. We cannot question the Truth. It is absolute and the only option we have is to accept the Truth. If you are not leading a life of Truth, it’s not spirituality.

Spirituality makes us emotionally independent. In order for you to be happy, you don’t have to depend on anyone else. In other words, you only need one person to love yourself. Spiritual power comes from within. When the externals in your life influence you, you don’t have much spiritual power. It teaches us to learn to treat things with equanimity — success and failure, happiness and sorrows, etc.

Here’s the thing. The Almighty can only show us the path, but we need to walk it. Here are some ways of living a spiritual life — the way we were supposed to have been living all along, but forgot somewhere along the way.

Always be happy. I used to think it wasn’t possible to be happy all the time, but I was wrong. It is possible to be happy all the time because it’s a choice you make. Your happiness cannot depend on anything outside of you (including your relationships). Besides, you only need one person to love you. When you are full of love, you will always be happy.

When we start with being happy, we do the work passionately, which may be followed with “success”, but even if it doesn’t, we will still end up being happy. Most of us do the reverse as mentioned at the outset of the piece, and because of this we are always striving to be happy, but never attain it.

Always seek blessings. With wealth, we buy stuff that comes in our home, but with others’ blessings, we get eternal happiness; blessings also bring wealth. The only way to earn blessings is to do good karma by making a difference in others’ lives. It’s the only way to build your karmic account balance, which will carry you forward in future lives. Never underestimate the power of blessings. Believe in them. Nothing is unfair in life. Everything is how it should be.

Always be kind to others (and to yourself). Remember, others are souls just like you are. Never hurt another soul, period. When others react, we need to empathize with them, try to listen, and understand their perspective without feeling the need to agree or disagree with them.

Our response does not depend on others’ response. We need to be tolerant with others and strict with ourselves; we usually do the inverse. If/when others are reacting or behaving inappropriately, that’s their karma, which will dictate their destiny. Remember, our karmas are our destiny; others’ karmas are their destiny.

Nothing can hurt us without our permission. We can only be upset by the choices we make. We need to be strong inside and soft outside, but we do the reverse. Gentleness can be expected only from those who are strong.

Be kind to yourself. How often do we punish ourselves for others’ mistakes. We hurt others as well as ourselves in the process. It’s a Lose-Lose.

We need to forgive and forget. We need to seek forgiveness from others when we have done something wrong. We need to stop dwelling on the past and focus on the present. There is no point in holding a grudge against someone. You only end up becoming a prisoner in your own mind by giving them more attention in your head long after the situation has occurred. Remember, our present is more powerful than the past, which can lead to a secure future. We also need to forgive ourselves and learn to move on.

Always see the good in others. Look at others’ strengths (not their weaknesses). That means they may have 99 weaknesses, but you have to point out their one strength. Easier said than done, of course.

Stop trying to change others. We only want others to change because they are different from us. We need to accept others for who they are. We need to look at others in terms of pure souls, not in terms of roles or relationships. We also need to get rid of labels.

Stop finding faults with others. The way to do that is to focus on improving ourselves. Then, we won’t have time to criticize others. Using energy on finding the cause is wasted energy anyway.

In any situation, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is when something is broken. It is our responsibility to fix it; that’s true leadership. In other words, we need to always be solution-oriented, not problem-focused. That’s one of the lessons they teach in the army, but that should be required learning for everyone in schools.

We should not have the same thought twice unless we like having that thought. We need to make every thought count. It’s akin to saving every drop of water. It’s the only way we can conserve our energy and use it to think about things that matter in the grand scheme of things. The more we think, the more our quality of thoughts deteriorates and the more stressed we are. The less we think, the more we improve our quality of thinking. It’s our choice, as always.

We need to get rid of negativity in our lives. How we think about things is our choice. It’s not the situations in life that determines our response, but how we respond to those situations. We need to be optimistic about the future.

Our thoughts become our reality. What we think every day is what manifests in our lives. Be careful what you wish for. Any time you want a situation to be true, choose to send positive vibrations into the universe. The way you talk to yourself shapes your reality.

The food we eat determines our state of mind, which in turn determines our ability to succeed in our endeavors. It’s not about what food is prepared as much as how it’s been prepared. It’s been said that food is the way to a man’s heart, but actually, food is the way to anyone’s heart. You might have the best recipe in the world for a dish, but if it has low energy or is made with negative emotions, it will never turn out great. Food + energy (high vibrations) is what you want. Power of vibration on food is crucial. Energize the food/water before consuming it. You can even do so by making the food with love in the kitchen and/or by a prayer afterwards. Your state of mind when making the food determines how the food will be. This is why it’s better to have and cook food at home rather than dining out. We never know the state of mind of others with which the food is prepared outside. If it is made simply with the intention of money, and if your children end up eating this food, it could very well be that they might be driven by money, which is the last thing you want.

Honesty and integrity can help you lead a spiritual life. That means saying what you do and doing what you say. It means never compromising on your values despite what you see around you or what you hear from others. Refuse to compromise for what you believe to be true.

Integrity is measured by conduct, not by your possessions or your professions. Give regard to job authority/positions, but love and respect to souls. How you talk to anyone is how you talk to everyone. You are neither above nor below others. You shouldn’t feel superior in the presence of some and inferior in the presence of others. You should treat everyone the same (with love and compassion).

Business is incomplete without spirituality. If you look at the Hindi translation of those words, you’ll see business as “Udyog” and spirituality as “Yog” (or union with the Divine).

The first law of business is your client’s profit should come before your own. Never stop doing good karma. You may not get the result today, but it will come back to you; if not today, sometime in the future. What you give is what you get. That said, you don’t do the work to get the result, you do the work for the joy of doing it. It’s more about the journey than the destination. For instance, we might not make much money in our work, but that’s okay as long as our karmic account balance is high.

Never compromise on your values, period. Others around you may be doing the wrong things (and even expecting you to do so by justifying that it’s the way the world works and so on), but that should never stop you from doing the right things.

Don’t worry about competing with others. There are no “others”. There is no race or competition in work or in life. Despite what others may have you believe, you are simply in the company of one. Beware of the comparison trap.

Change always begins with one person. It only takes one candle to light a room. We need to be the change we wish to see in the world. If you haven’t seen the film 12 Angry Men, I suggest you do so.

As souls, we need to spend some time in solitude every day (morning is best). Our body is the vehicle for which our soul is the driver. The Almighty is always tuned into the soul frequency. We have to silence our thoughts of the negative thinking so the Divine can truly be with us and help us.

Think of mind as your software operating system and your body as your hardware. Without software, hardware is useless. We cannot always control the hardware, but we can always control our software. It’s really the one thing we have full control over.

The purpose of meditation is to prepare your mind to be peaceful all the time. It is intended to achieve control over the mind and emotions. Think of meditation as meeting with the Almighty in your mind. We are His God-loving children (not God-fearing). We don’t have to look up to Him and put Him on a pedestal. We need to think of Him as our friend and talk to Him as such.

I would be amiss if I didn’t talk about the challenges of leading a spiritual life thus far — how sometimes it can be frustrating to do the right thing (at the cost of your own self) without hurting others. You might even feel some anguish, but you choose to keep your thoughts, words, and actions pure towards everyone. In other words, we need to treat everyone with love and compassion, no matter how they may be. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up piece at some point in which I’ll delve deeper into my challenges with living a spiritual life. I think that would make for a far more interesting read.

We need to think of ourselves as souls (not bodies). Others are souls too. Be kind to them. Always see the good in others. Do good karma and earn blessings. There are no miracles, only blessings. Always earn blessings.

As people (bodies), we focus on ourselves and might even become self-centered. As souls, we focus on helping others make a difference. We stop looking at others in terms of roles or relationships. When we see each other as souls, love radiates. There is no distinction between us and them. We are all in this together. We are all peaceful souls with varying degrees of karma.

Please note this was my first foray into spirituality. I learned most of these lessons at a weekend spiritual retreat. Above all, it has set me on a spiritual path and inspired me to be a better human. I hope this piece does the same for you.

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