- Namita Purohit
- Life Stages
How do we know we’re advancing on the spiritual path? What are the measures? What should we be experiencing? Since bhakti -yoga is actually a highly practical spiritual science; there are clear signposts to help us evaluate our progress. Through a simple analogy we can understand how.
As we eat, we experience certain things:
• Pleasure – A well-cooked meal gives an immediate sense of enjoyment to the tongue.
• Nourishment – We feel nourished and revitalized with each bite.
• Detachment – Gradually our hunger subsides and we are no longer interested in eating. Similar symptoms should be experienced by the hungry spiritualist:
• Pleasure – the practices of bhakti are joyfully performed and they bring pleasure and satisfaction on a much deeper level. Anxiety and worry dissolve with a tangible feeling of solace and relief.
• Nourishment – with increased spiritual purity come a direct experience of God. The soul feels nourished, and life becomes infused with hope as we see God’s hand in everything.
• Detachment – over time we feel a growing disinterest in the temporary material goals that we previously strived for. Although material desires may still flow through our mind, we remain steady and convinced that there is something far greater beyond them.
Progression on the bhakti path is not linear and one-dimensional. We’ll face challenges and obstacles on the way. There will be good days and bad days. As we grow in spiritual maturity, however, there should be greater experience of pleasure, a deeper sense of nourishment and a natural detachment from material things. These symptoms become more and more prominent in our lives. This gives us assurance that we are moving forward in our spiritual life.
But what about if we feel little or no inner transformation? What if we don’t feel joy or happiness from our practices? Then it is crucial to sit down and evaluate. Am I consistently bringing my full attention and care to the basic spiritual practices? Does my lifestyle support and foster deeper spirituality? Have I approached other devotees to receive their feedback and advice? This kind of regular honest introspection is essential for a healthy spiritual life. We have to identify our blocks and make a concerted effort to create change.