Question: When I read spiritual books, it feels like I am conditioning myself in a different way. Sometimes, worldly desires take over me, and I am not able to stay spiritual all the time.
What can I do, to stay spiritual, all the time?
Acharya Prashant: See, spirituality is not something that you can pick off the shelf, and start practicing. Who told you that the yama and niyam that you are practicing, are the best for you?
Listener: But, as the Yoga Sutra says….
Acharya ji: Were the Yoga Sutras told to you?
Listener: But, we have to practice them, and follow them.
Acharya ji: Who mandated it? Did Patanjali recite the Yoga Sutras to you? How do you know that they are meant for you?
Listener: How do we then, what is meant for us?
Acharya ji: Then you have to go and ask someone who knows. You don’t seem to be trying. You seem to have concluded. You seem to have come to the conclusion that the yama and niyama path will take you beyond your self.
You have already started implementing something. You are not even at the decision state. You don’t even have the humility to stay put, before executing something.
Listener: But, what when anyone does not even have a desire to go beyond?
Acharya ji: Then don’t go beyond. There is no compulsion to go beyond. Man is really not born to go beyond.
Going beyond, is the highest, and the most exquisite pursuit.
If you don’t pursue that path, you are not a sinner. You are just, normal.
If you not spiritual, you are not a sinner. You are just normal!
It is not necessary to be spiritual. There is nothing in man’s composition, that specially, eggs him on, towards spirituality.
Your senses, they look outside at the world. You mind keeps on thinking of things, material stuff. You live by your thoughts, your feelings, your opinions. And you can live a decent life, even without being spiritual. Why are you forcing spirituality upon yourself?The bulk of mankind, is not spiritual at all, and is yet living almost satisfactorily.
Spirituality, is a most exquisite pursuit.
It is only for those, who are not at all contended with, what the world can maximally offer.
Not only are they not contended with what they already have, they are not contended even with the best, what the world can potentially offer.
Those are the ones, who must take the spiritual path. Others must satisfy themselves, with the worldly beauties.
And I come across this, so often. People come and say that we have turned spiritual, but that is making us all dry, and that is leaving us totally dissatisfied. And the, I ask them, “Who asked you to go spiritual?” First of all, you go out and have fun in the world. And when you get beaten up soundly, if you do, if you do, then come back, and try the spiritual path.
And it is not necessary, that in the world, you will receive a beating. Not everybody is so lucky.
Most people are condemned to, almost succeed in the world. The misfortune of most people is, that they never get beaten up so soundly, that they will see the futility of the world. So they should remain well-adjusted and compromised. They should continue with the worldly life. They should not, unnecessarily, invite the spiritual trouble. You know, for the sake of it, just because some great names have talked of spirituality, you too start dabbling. And then, you burn your fingers.
Spirituality, is for the ones, who are ripe enough.
If you are not ripe enough, keep hanging for the tree. Enjoy the birds and the breeze. a time comes, when you are, ready. Spirituality has never been for the masses, believe me. Never!
In fact, Indian scriptures, very strictly say, that if you are not yet ready, and if you still approach us, then you will meet harm. And how to test that you are ready? There are very definite, clear guidelines. Test yourself clearly, before you open this book, before you enter this scripture. Only when you honestly see that you are ready, must you enter the scripture.
There are many guidelines given in many forms. But the one, that I like the most, and the one that is the most elaborate, is the saadhan chatushtaya.
The first thing that is needed is, viveka(discretion).
The second thing that is needed is, vairagya(dispassion).
The third thing that is needed is, shad sampatti, the six qualities (shama, dama, uprati, titiksha, shraddha, samaadhaan).
And finally, and most importantly, you need, mumuksha(desire for liberation).
When you see that you have all these, only then must you turn, a seeker.
Do you have discretion(viveka)? Do you clearly see: what is eternal, and what is ephemeral? Do you clearly see: what holds substance, and what is insubstantial? If not, then you are disqualified, in the very first test.
There are four tests. The very first one, disqualifies you. The second test, is a little more stern. The second test is, vairagya. Are you totally fed up of the world, or not? If you are not totally fed up of the world, what are you doing in the spiritual domain? You go and enjoy the world.
And then, there is the shad sampatti. Six tests at one go – rapid fire. And finally, do you have a burning desire for liberation, mumuksha? If you do not have a burning desire for liberation, stay away! Go and enjoy the world.
You are young. Do not unnecessarily hassle yourself. go and enjoy the markets. Get a girlfriend, have kids.
Listener: I want to ask one more thing Acharya ji. My personal life is not working, so I am trying to be more spiritual. So, it’s like let’s stay away from the house, let’s stay away from this, let’s stay away from that.
Acharya ji: Who told you that spirituality demands staying away from the house? Who told you that science and spirituality, are distinct domains? Science is, a little subset of spirituality. You cannot say, “Right now I am scientific, and now I am spiritual,” as if they are two exclusive sets. They are not exclusive. They overlap.
Science is fully contained in spirituality. Spirituality, that does not contain science, is superstition. However, science is too small, to overlap with, all of spirituality. But one thing is certain, when you are scientific, you are, spiritual as well. However, all spirituality, is not science. spirituality goes way, beyond science.
Spirituality begins, when you have a strong feeling, that things are not the way they must be.
If you are alright, and well-adjusted, then stay well-adjusted.
Listener: Cannot face the fluctuations of feelings, and emotions, any more.
Acharya ji: So that’s something that you want to correct, right?
Acharya ji: Now you can begin.
But to begin, first of all, you must know what is, going wrong. If you do not know your disease, to which doctor will you go? Even to go to a doctor, even to benefit from the guidance of a doctor, you at least need to go to the right department, don’t you?
So, you have to begin with yourself. You have to honestly ask yourself, “What is this going on?”
This is the stepping stone.
Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session: How to stay spiritual all the time? || Acharya Prashant (2019)
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