The habit of mind is to wander, and it goes all over this world and beyond and run after pleasurable or agreeable things and activities. True to its nature the mind is forever running after pleasure and towards that end it can lie, steal, falsify, be insincere and create deceptions and hurt itself. It forgets its hurts soon and is back to its wandering. This creates negativesamskaras. Mind takes over sense and sensibility of man and squeezes the atman (soul) out of man`s reasoning and understanding.
For spiritual development, the monkey mind must be brought under control. Efforts at controlling the mind through visualization, concentration, meditation and other spiritual techniques helps the individual to break out of narrow negative and bigoted groves. One important effect of these practices is to steer negative energies to positive tendencies. One should not seek revolutionary changes but attempt small incremental positive tendencies in one`s life and consistently.
Being spiritual is a process where one cultivates qualities which are by cultural norms positive or progressive. These qualities by themselves do not help or promote one in his or her practical life. An excessive obsession with them or following them too rigorously and exclusively can become a denial to the demands of life. I know many religious and principled people becoming slaves to these qualities and in the long run damaging their own psyches.
Qualities like sharpness of mind, thoroughness, foresight, attentiveness, accuracy etc. are all great qualities for success but without hard work do not bring that stellar success in one`s professional endeavors. Likewise spiritual exercises without a mission in life do not produce spiritual and material progress. Of course what I write here is reflected in my book where the hero and a wiser person are planning an investigation into a massacre.
One may learn and pick up any number of qualities but they are of no use if they cannot solve his basic problems. Therefore working to develop these qualities for what they are would be a waste of time and effort. I have seen simple ordinary people able to remain focused, quick and clear within a short time of becoming aware of a problems generate solutions purely on logic which could be applied keeping the objective in view. On the other hand senior managers, bureaucrats, lawyers and politicians living with problems for many weeks passionate about solving them but not cold bloodedly goal oriented are monumental failures. They spend too much time on details and forget the larger picture.
In one`s spiritual life one needs to have a good fix on one`s mission in life, the raison de Etre for one`s existence. That is the forest. Therefore a spiritual neophyte must take time and introspect seriously to define his or her mission in life and with that in view the development of spiritual properties will manifest powerfully and offer the aspirant spiritual insights and success in their other spheres of life as well.
I know that among many Indians irrespective of their religion, spiritual life means celebrating auspicious days connected with deities, undertaking pilgrimages, visiting holy shrines during auspicious or times of sorrow or Thanksgiving, fasting, worship taken to extremes, rituals or abnegation, renunciation or penances. For many that I know, these have become like spiritual crutches, and they live to do that repeatedly and their psyche has crystallized in a way that it demands them. These activities are undertaken with a firm belief that they would bring the perceived results but when repeated many times they become mechanical and do not bring in the desired results.
Karma: There is a belief that holds God (or the power attributable to Universal Energy) is merciful and compassionate and does not punish or reward anyone. Man creates his own destiny by his own thoughts, words and deeds, which produce corresponding results " good, bad or indifferent decided by their moral and ethical qualities. Human actions produce their own consequences and follows that if a man does well (good) in this life then he will be born into a better life in his next incarnation. A person is born again and again to reap the fruits of his actions until the person attains moksha which is freedom from birth.
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