|Spiritual Life and Its Relevance
OM JAI JAI SAI MAA
"SPIRITUAL LIFE AND ITS RELEVANCE"
DISCOURSE BY PARAMACHARYA SWAMI PARAMESHWARANANDA
INTERNATIONAL INTERFAITH CONGRESS ON
RELIGION AND MODERN CIVILIZATION
November 4-6, 2006
(Also published in souvenir book of key discourses and papers, pages
Definition of Terms
Before delving into the aspects
of "spiritual life," let us first take a look at what is meant by "relevance" for
the purpose of this discourse. The
relevance of an idea, circumstance, event, phenomenon and so forth has to do
with its significance, value, bearing, importance,
applicability, consequence. At the
same time, we are to ask "relevant for what?"
In the context of this discussion, I am choosing to highlight the
relevance of spiritual life for the individual, for society and for the planet.
When we combine these points, we can word
this inquiry as: "What is the value or
significance of spiritual life for an individual, for society, for the planet?"
A "spiritual life" is a life
devoted to and focused upon 'Spirit," Paramatman, Brahman, Buddha, Allah, Christ,
Source, Creation within us, a life in which we discover the Truth of who we
are, our true Self, and we live this Truth in the body in the world as a
Spiritual Being. A "spiritual life"
includes self-mastery, mastering the body, mind and senses, purifying ourselves
so that we manifest the "Divine Alchemy" by being spirit in humanness, Divinity
As Her Holiness Sai Maa Lakshmi
Devi Sarvanandamayi Maa 1008 Mahamandleshwar writes, "You were divine consciousness before being a human being. Now create your existence on earth with the
collaboration of the Creator." (Petals of Grace," p. 131)
When we combine this view of
"relevance" and "spiritual life," we can use as a reference point for this
inquiry the question: "What is the value
or significance of living life as Spirit, as Creator, for the individual,
society and the planet?"
We will begin with the
individual. One reason for beginning
with the individual is that this initial focus enables each of us to understand
within ourself the value of living as Spirit, the applicability to our life,
the decisions we may wish to take to transform ourself, and thereby influence our
family, communities, and so on.
Another reason for beginning with
the individual is that fundamental change begins with the individual being,
spreading out into society and the planet.
This is not to say that efforts by groups, cultures, societies do not
have consequence and impact the world. However,
the transformation of the individual and the living of each individual as
Spirit, has a dramatic "domino effect" which increases in momentum as others
around us live as Spirit. This reflects the
power of the individual to transform the planet. We each transform ourself and move this into
action in the world, a "movement" from individual to group to planet. Our individual transformation impacts our
family, those with whom we go to school or work, and this impact extends out
into society and across the planet.
The following quote from H.H. Sai
Maaji enriches this viewpoint:
"All of the great teaching asks you to embody the Self that you are, to
embody the consciousness that you are.
Listen to the words of the great masters and practice them. This is life.
This is puja. This is worship. You are here to restore the original design
of heaven on earth. In other words, you
were created to divinize humanity, starting with yourself, a humanity full of
heart." (Petals of Grace, pp. 143-144)
Relevance of Spiritual Life for the Individual
What does "living life as Spirit,
as Creator" look like for an individual?
What is its value for the individual?
In traditional approaches to
Psychology, we study the "psyche," the mind, the personality, to identify what
is creating conflict, what is no longer working in the life of the individual,
and we guide the individual to move through and change these patterns of
thoughts, emotions and behaviors. In
many cases, in the West especially, this can take time to analyze and process (e.g.,
in therapy), so that the individual understands and makes new choices and
decisions from a different perspective on himself/herself and the world.
In focusing upon "spiritual
life," we expand this to a new view of the Self that is unchanging in a body
that is changing (no longer the "self" with a small "s" as ego or personality). We place greatest significance upon the
aspect of Self that does not change and is Absolute:
"... the seer of Truth perceives clearly the difference between the
never-changing absolute state of life and its ever-changing states of
diversified phenomenal existence. It is
this which gives him that stability and heightened state of consciousness by
which he rises above the binding influence of activity in the phenomenal
world." (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on
the Bhagavad-Gita, p. 96)
Living life as Spirit is not
being attached to the body; it is transcending the body to realize the Divine
Consciousness that we are. We then use
the body as a vehicle for experiencing life and manifesting this consciousness through
action in the world, for example, being Divine Love in Action.
H.H Sai Maaji highlights the
value for the individual in taking this broader perspective:
"The work, then is to move from the limited concept of identity caused
by fear to identification with the Divine within. ... Humans are always in fear,
fear of losing. This is because of
identification with the body-consciousness and with the physical body, instead
of identifying with the Eternal Self, with the One who is breathing within. In this way, you are to use this birth to
know yourself, to experience your own inner consciousness, and to find out who
you truly are (Petals of Grace, p. 142)
Therefore, the value for each of
us in living as Spirit is that we see ourselves as more than the body, and we
move from the fear based on a limited viewpoint of who we are to the freedom of
realizing all of the aspects, the multiple dimensions that we truly are as
consciousness, as energy, as Divinity.
We can then identify with the Divine attributes that we are and, in that
identification, we serve each other by applying them as Spiritual Values that
we manifest in our communities (discussed later in "societal relevance").
The key to this identification
with our Divinity is Love:
"Through Love — only through Love — the Self reveals itself, the
Beloved reveals itself. Only Love will
attract God or the Self so that this revelation is made manifest. And you are That, you are that Grace." (Petals
of Grace, p. 141)
Living as Spirit comes about
through the work of purification that we do to divinize our thoughts and
feelings, our ego and personality, by connecting with Spirit, with Source, with
the Supreme Self that we are. We bring
this Light, this vibration, into the physical form and subtle bodies and,
through this practice, we dissolve and transform the old patterns of thoughts,
emotions and actions that are stored there.
In embracing the higher aspects of ourselves and enlightening our
patterns and old ways of being, we realize ourself as Spirit. We move from fear to Love, as we dissolve
with Love and Light the impurities, karma and samskara from the past. We then "re-fill" ourselves as we create
divinely in the world, re-focusing in the present and changing our thoughts, feelings,
and actions from non-Divine to Divine. We
"plant new seeds" of karma, spread waves of Divine Consciousness across the
planet, as we bring Spirit into our total life.
H.H. Sai Maaji speaks about this
moment-to-moment practice (sadhana) as "Awareness-Choice-Decision-Focus-Realization." Through a new awareness of ourselves and the
world, we make new choices that lead through commitment to decisions and action. We then continue to focus in action on what
we have decided in order to realize what we have set out to accomplish. This practice improves our communication, our
relationships, our leadership in the world, as we live life anew as
In summary, by committing to live
life as Spirit, the individual purifies, transforms and enlightens himself/herself,
becoming a realized Being who impacts the world through Divine thoughts,
feelings and actions, while also collaborating with the Creator.
Relevance of Spiritual Life for Society
Living life as Spirit takes on even
greater value and significance as individuals join together in groups and
communities, realizing their interconnectedness and sharing common practices
for realizing themselves more and more as Spirit, in other words, consciously
evolving together. When there is
agreement among individuals, there is manifestation as they take action
together and co-create. Two verses from
the Bible highlight the power of the group:
"Again I say to you that if two of
you agree on Earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them
by My Father in heaven." (Matthew 18: 19)
"For where two or three are
gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew
The power of the group, uniting
in the name of Self, Spirit, Source, is demonstrated in their creativity, in the
"Divine flow" of co-creation as the individuals tap into Universal
Consciousness and reveal ideas, solutions, creations that were not previously
possible by any one individual, or by others not aligned with Spirit. In addition, the power is enhanced by the
grid of Group Consciousness, the waves of vibration and energy that radiate
from the group. Not only does this
vortex empower the group for creation and manifestation, it also spreads among
other individuals in communities that are aligned with the same "Work" (e.g.,
religious or spiritual communities, Ashrams), within cities
and countries, within and among
cultures and societies. This Group
Consciousness also attracts other individuals who wish to create in Spirit,
according to the Laws of Resonance and Attraction.
This Divine radiance of Spirit
among groups and communities points to the importance (the "relevance") of
finding ways for communities to come together to create and to manifest
divinely. This Unity of Spirit is not
only important for "like-minded" communities, but also for those communities
who are disagreeing, living in conflict, fighting with one another. The occasion of this International Interfaith
Congress is one example of bringing together different religious traditions,
teachings and practices and finding "common messages" upon which different
groups can build ways to co-create and manifest that which is Divine. In this way, we can uncover creative educational,
humanitarian, and energetic bridges between East and West, Hindu and Muslim,
Jewish and Arab. This union is
facilitated when we can move beyond religion and focus upon Spirit which
resides across religions, when we can bring what is best of common Spiritual
Values, such as Love.
Living as Spirit means learning
from others how they live Spirit in their community, in their society, in their
world. It means sharing and teaching
what expands rather than contracts, what comes from Love and not fear, what
results in union rather than separation.
Living as Spirit means being a Divine Presence for others, modeling the
expression and manifestation of Spiritual Values through words and deeds,
setting an example for how to be open and learn from others and transform. Living as Spirit means more than talking
about Peace and Unity; it means being Peace and Unity from the inside out.
In addition to interfaith
gatherings, how can we impact society by living as Spirit? We can start with our families by being
loving parents to our children, loving children to our parents, true brothers
and sisters, serving our family members to realize their Truth and to be
Masters in their lives as Spirit. We can
express ourselves as Spirit at work and transform our workplace and
organizations through new forms of communication, more Divine relationships and
powerful leadership based on Spiritual Values.
We can transform educational systems by incorporating Spirit into their
design and implementation. We can
manifest Spirit in political systems by standing in our Truth and by supporting
political leaders, and being leaders ourselves, who behave with honesty and
We cannot speak about the
societal impact of living as Spirit without mentioning a major community that
will significantly transform society and the planet: Youth.
Young people are being born with different ways of seeing the world and
their place in it, with different brains and cellular structure. Young people are more and more open to
realizing the Truth and multiple dimensions of who they are, to finding ways to
deal with the turmoil and chaos prevalent in the world today. Young people are coming together more often
to express themselves and to co-create.
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has
created an educational system based on Spiritual Values in Puttaparthi, including
the Institute for Higher Learning, where students learn about the values and
how to live them in the world (Prema — Love, Sathya — Truth, Shanti — Peace,
Dharma — Right Action, Ahimsa — Non-Violence).
H.H. Sai Maaji, and the non-profit organization Sai Maaji founded,
Humanity in Unity (HIU) have formed a major humanitarian and educational
program that supports youth (SYMPLE: Spiritual Youth Mentoring Program for
Leadership and Enlightenment). Four
youth were sent to Thailand earlier this year to represent Sai Maaji and HIU in
a Global Youth Conference, and three young adults are attending this Congress
as speakers. (More information about the
HIU youth program can be found under "SYMPLE" on the HIU website: www.HumanityInUnity.org.)
In summary, society is
transformed through living as Spirit when: groups co-create and serve as Group
Consciousness; when different religions and groups that are in conflict find
and share commonalities of teachings and practices; when we transform our
families, schools, workplaces, organizations and political systems; when we
support the transformation, leadership, enlightenment and service of youth
around the world.
Relevance of Spiritual Life for the Planet
The planet is now expressing the
conflict, non-peace, suffering, "dis-ease" that its inhabitants have been
experiencing and spreading across and into Mother Earth over centuries and
eons. The weather, the wars, the
terrorism represent the fear that we have held within ourselves and manifested
in the world. We are now at a critical
stage of the evolution of the planet when we must behave differently, develop
creative ideas and take new action for the planet to heal, for all of humanity
to rejuvenate and move into a state of being truly Divine.
We have covered here how
individuals and societies can transform by living as Spirit. Of course, as this happens the planet
transforms. What else can be said about
planetary transformation and the relevance of spiritual life? Let us hear what H.H. Sai Maaji says about
"The energy grids around this planet are also undergoing major shifts,
pulling the planetary energies into a new alignment. Through this process a new sphere of energy
will be available, which will make the work for all much easier when they
attune themselves to this new vibration.
Thus they will accelerate this evolutionary process. ... Start to align
your energy, your frequency, with beings of Light. With the sixth sense, attuning yourself to
different kinds of energies, different levels of vibrations will be experienced
naturally. ... Human beings are capable of consciously cooperating with the power
of evolution. Evolution no longer needs
to be blind or instinctive. Only you can
speed up and perfect what the 'future' is to be." (Petals of Grace,
In consciously contributing to the
evolution of humanity and the planet, individuals can raise their vibration and
radiate and spread their Divine Love and Light. They can connect with and
penetrate the energy grid of the Mother Earth with this Light. Groups and communities, as they transform
themselves, can create powerful vortices of healing energy that serve the
planet. Individuals, groups, communities,
societies can all align themselves with the frequencies and energies of
Ascended Masters, Angels and Light Beings to co-create in serving the
planet. This co-creation, with our
dedication and commitment to being Divine Love in Action, will lead to the
enlightenment of all of humanity and the planet, as H.H. Sai Maaji describes:
"The next evolutionary step is to realize that you are divine. That Divinity is beginning to dawn, and the
destiny of humanity is to culminate in divine consciousness. At this time, you are to be divine, to be
Godly, to be Supra-conscious Beings.
Free will is the key to your evolution, because free will or the freedom
to evolve is inherent in each of you.
The human race will eventually experience enlightenment, but when will
it happen? When depends on each
individual. The more you are aligned
with your true Self, the more Unity and Love will exist on Earth." (Petals of Grace, p. 135)
Individually and collectively,
our decision to live as Spirit determines the evolution of humanity and of the
planet. Our actions to transform within
ourselves, and to transform together, impact how soon we will achieve Global
Enlightenment and the healing of Mother Earth.
This view of ourselves and the
world, of our power through action and creation to affect and alter how we
evolve as a planet, can be called "conscious evolution."
As Barbara Marx Hubbard states in
her book, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of our Social Potential:
"Deep in the hidden process of our metamorphosis we can see a natural
design — an evolutionary pattern to guide us toward the next stage of
transformation. We intuit the presence
of the still-invisible social butterfly, yet how do we become it? What we are seeking is a worldview that will
call forth our creation action and direct our immense powers toward
life-oriented and evolutionary purposes.
That guiding worldview is, I believe, conscious evolution. It holds that through our unprecedented
scientific, social, and spiritual capacities we can evolve consciously and
cocreatively with nature and the deeper patterns of creation (traditionally
called God), thus enabling us to manifest a future commensurate with our
unlimited species and planetary potential."
The more we focus upon Spirit,
the more we practice in our daily lives living as Spirit, the more we raise our
vibration and expand our consciousness so that we actually co-create with
Spirit, with Creation itself. What a
blessing it is to be alive at this critical transition period of our planet, to
come to this realization of our power to transform what no longer serves, to
manifest Spirit in the world through our own thoughts, words and deeds. Barbara Marx Hubbard describes the current
state of our species:
"The capacity for conscious evolution means that our species has become
capable of understanding and resonating with the processes of creation itself.
... Spiritually we are attuning to the patterns of evolution within us as we
begin to transcend the illusion of separation born out of the phase of self-conscious
humanity. Whether or not there is other
life in the universe, our role, if we learn conscious evolution, is to become
partners in the process of creation, enhancing life on Earth and bringing
Earth's life into the universe." (p. 59)
We are all important,
interrelated "team members," playing our part in this movement toward
Perfection, returning to our original Divine Source. We are each to take responsibility for
progressing in our path to Source, for directing our own transformation, and
thereby the transformation of our families, communities, societies and Mother
Earth herself. We are to use our
creativity, our inherent powers, our focus and discipline, to become Masters of
how we live our life on this planet during this incarnation, and how we
contribute to the evolution of humanity.
Let us remember our original question of "What is the value or significance
of living life as Spirit, as Creator, for the individual, society and
planet?" Does this question resonate
differently with you now? How do you
respond to it? What actions are you
committed to take right now to live a spiritual life?
Her Holiness Sai Maa Lakshmi Devi, Petals of Grace:
Essential Teachings for Self-Mastery.
Crestone, Colorado: HIU Press, 2005.
Barbara Marx Hubbard, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the
Power of Our Social Potential.
Novato, California: New York Library, 1998.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the
Bhagavad-Gita. International SRM