Essentially it means cultivating the flowers of spiritual devotion, of purity. And just like in a garden, there are flowers growing, and there are weeds. As we cultivate our self realization, our understanding of our true identity as spiritual beings, it is important to be conscious of our weeds, and pulling our weeds.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH: THE “1” IN FRONT OF THE “0S”
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Teilhard de Chardin
Imagine you’re looking at a photo of yourself from when you were four years old. Connect with the sights, sounds, fragrances, all the sensory stimuli, of the time. The various environments- home, play……When you look at this photo, do you say “Who is that stranger?” No, you say “That’s me, when I was 4.” That’s David, Kathy, Joanne, Peter, when I was 4…
We know from science that there’s not one atom in your body now that was there when you were 4. Still, we say “That’s me…” This indicates a constant identity that I call David, and you call [your name here]. This identity is something non-material, separate from the physical, and it is the essence of endeavors for spiritual growth.
A Vehicle for Spiritual Growth
To further contemplate self-realization and spiritual growth, imagine you are driving, maybe to work, or to a social event, in a Toyota Lexus. While driving you are thinking “I am Japanese…”, because this vehicle was made in Japan….Then envision the next day, or maybe the next week, you are driving a Volkswagen, thinking “I am German…” Then the next day you’re in a Ford, thinking “I’m American…”
Certainly this seems foolish. The identity of the driver is not dependent on the place of manufacture of the car. Still, consider, with reference to the photo exercise, how this misidentification is just what we’re doing. To what extent do we identify, or misidentify, our self with designations related only to the temporary body/vehicle- e.g., white, black, Canadian, Indian, short, female, male…?
Of course it’s important to care for the car, service it, keep it clean. What though is more important, the care of the car, or the driver?
To continue to build a foundation for our spiritual growth, let’s consider a string of “0s”. What’s it worth? 0. By placing a “1” in front of the “0s”, the “0s” acquire value. The “1” is spiritual growth, genuinely cultivating realization of who we are, separate from the vehicle we inhabit. “0s” that take on meaning with the “1” in front might include economic development, physical health, and nourishing our intellect.
We can understand something about our spiritual nature by observing ourselves. For example, whether through anti-lock brakes or thermonuclear devices, much of our energy is employed in eluding death. Why? Because as spiritual beings we are not meant to die. Each of us seeks to expand our awareness, perhaps through a study of history, philosophy, or maybe through the politics or economics of the day. We strive for happiness, knowledge, and eternity in so many ways, though often we do not find the joy and fulfillment we seek. This indicates that our activities may be misdirected with respect to spiritual growth.
The Spirit of Discovery
The programs of Satvatove Institute are centered around spiritual growth, and a principle of self-realization to which we often refer is “the spirit of discovery”. “Spirit of discovery” means that we’re not trying to force an answer, but rather we’re immersing our self in the question itself, open to whatever realizations may come. Towards spiritual growth and enhanced self-awareness, I encourage you to be in the spirit of discovery and live in the following questions: What is my purpose as a spiritual being? What is my essential activity as a spiritual being?
David B. Wolf, Ph.D., has been practicing and teaching bhakti-yoga, an ancient process for spiritual growth, for thirty years. David developed transformative communication, a communication-based approach to self-realization, founded in the principles and practices of bhakti-yoga. He has lectured and conducted programs internationally, in countries including New Zealand, Israel, Russia, India, and throughout Europe and North America.
Satvatove Institute offers a variety of spiritual growth workshops and seminars.
The opportunity to realize my true nature sits before me. Sometimes I feel scared or stressed, yet the opportunity to grow beckons – saying, if you want it, here it is, here you are – NOW.
In the processes of transformative communication and personal development, it is important to aim our efforts at the ultimate goal of human life, namely, spiritual growth and understanding.
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“Voluntary endeavor is the only qualification for spiritual perfection.”
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami