The Spiritual Journey
By Sally Janssen
The majority of our actions have some emotional habit or impulse at their source and could be better classified as reactions.
However, conscious action is determined and directed by our thinking and this has two aspects in function. The lower mind or Manomaya Kosha deals with the material and concrete subjects is most active in Concentration upon a material focus. The higher mind or Vijnanomaya Kosha deals with abstract principles and is more involved in Meditation.
We need a clear thinking, rational lower mind or concrete mind which considers black and white as very definite tools to measure right and wrong, good and bad, in order to evaluate and make decisions before any action.
We need the higher mind to aid our understanding of ideologies and assist our dreams, ideals, plans and promises for better things and to equip us for self discipline, spiritual aspiration and free access to our intuition.
Both these aspects of the mind must integrate before much can be satisfactorily experienced in meditation. And fruitful meditation leads inevitably to right action. Action is the material testing ground of the spirit. So from the heights and delights of higher extended and expanded psychic consciousness in meditation we must return to the physical or lowest plane of consciousness in order to prove our spiritual strength and skill in practical matters through our actions.
Sowing and reaping seeds of our actions, we go from incarnation to incarnation. It is only by spiritualised and conscious action that we can graduate from the school of birth, death and rebirth with its repeated negative cyclic experiences, and go forward in confidence on the first stages of the journey along the well worn path which others have trodden to arrive at spiritual fulfillment and freedom.
The term "The Spiritual Journey" implies that we are going somewhere. We don't just sit down and grow into a wiser human being. We must walk forward and make effort and we must see that there is a goal in spiritual achievement as well as material.
Amidst the many life experiences encountered along what could be considered a mountain climb, we seek regular glimpses of the pinnacle which represents the ultimate Power for Good and the height of our aspiration. In Yoga it is to become fully developed as a creative and intelligent human being. This may be understood as the general goal but it requires the embellishment of our imagination if it is to stir within us an intense desire for the highest level that a human being can obtain. What can help us is our quiet consideration of our heroes, gurus and teachers until we conceive our own concept of what constitutes the ideal human being.
The lower mind requires a strong, clear picture or image of ourselves as we would wish to become if it is to serve as a beacon in the midst of practical disciplines and provide a reference for our actions. It also helps restrain us as we are about to re-act. Freedom of the soul from the limitations of the personality comes with release from habitual re-action to allow the conscious will to direct a line of action the individual sees fit.
A healthy mind is required before consciously attempting the spiritual journey and a degree of independence of thought and feeling. We are also reminded in all teachings that we must utilize the fundamental faculty of discrimination. Discrimination is the ability of an astute personality to use the black and white square of reasoning to assess the true nature of things - to be capable of evaluating good and evil, constructive and destructive influences and other pairs of opposing qualities.
But more importantly is the necessity for a Loving Heart, without which one cannot confidently take the first step towards the future.
Then, suitably equipped, we can begin that adventuresome journey. It is then, also, that we begin to experience the most earnest tests and trials of life. These tests are experienced in the midst of everyday life and circumstances as well as within the recesses of one's own consciousness. It is best never to wish to escape or avoid these trials. Face them bravely and honestly having utter faith that the Law of life is just and fair and take refuge in that Law.
Along the way we know that the landscapes of our circumstances will change, that there will be hills and valleys, rivers to cross, unexpected situations as we turn a corner, new companions, new adventures, and new delights. We will have to face unknown challenges as well as those already in our path, and we face the ever present enemy of our own fatigue and limited stamina.
One is tested for courage and love for life, strength, for abilities and talents, love and compassion, sense of responsibility, loyalty, application to hard work, sense of justice, determination in the face of obstacles, awareness of Nature's Laws as applied to man, independence, kindness and service to others, leadership, sense of brotherhood, generosity, and lastly, a capacity for self sacrifice.
Each of us must go through every one of these tests, through which we come to realise our own abilities and spiritual potential. We must overcome all temptations to abuse, misuse or to waste our energies and talents and are tested to the utmost until we truly stand free upon the mountaintop, free from the need to incarnate in order to polish up our nature and free to choose to graduate from life's earth school or remain to teach others by our own direct experience.
Spiritual growth is like the journey of the Prodigal returning home to the Father. It is like the child returning to its Parent, but as a miniature or microscopic energy reflection of our Source, the macrocosm. We discover our place in the great scheme of things.
In each lifetime or incarnation we take 7 years to equip the body for the karmic law to fulfil itself so at 7 years old we are responsible for our actions of the body. In the next 7 year period we develop the emotional nature and at 14 years we are responsible for the emotional expression of the soul. From 14-21 we are developing full control of the mind and intellect in order to complete our equipment for life expression and are responsible to the lords of Karma for our thoughts. At 21 the soul is fully equipped, should he choose to go on his spiritual journey fully clothed in his sheaths or garments of consciousness, alone and self assured.
One can only know life or come to know God through direct experience. And so each soul seeks further experience in order to learn the meaning of life for himself and so relate to others. The aspirant strides out eagerly along a path towards a future knowing it will bring him eventually to his death when the time is right for the next stage of the journey of the spirit.
When final earthly attainment and liberation is achieved, when the goal is reached and the individual casts aside the garments of his many lives what happens to the soul, where does it go? These and many more questions are to be answered.
But what would you ultimately seek in your spiritual journey beyond 'graduation' from this earthly school?
From a short address at a National Yoga Convention Vision Valley, NSW 1975 by Sally E. Janssen
Sally Janssen is a writer, and Yoga teacher well known both in Australia and abroad for her skill in demonstration of the Hatha Yoga practices and her wisdom in applying the principles of Raja Yoga -the study of the mind and consciousness. More details at http://www.essence-of-yoga.net
Her book "Mental Fitness: A Complete Self-help Guide" explains the principles of mental fitness that can be applied by us all. The book may be found here: http://www.mentalhealthandfitness.com/blog.