The Four Pillars Of A Spiritual Lifestyle - Achieving A Balance
A balanced and fulfilling spiritual life is like a table. It stands on four legs and if one leg is shorter than the others then both balance and equilibrium will be difficult. The four legs or pillars of a spiritual life are given below in the form of four subjects. If any of the subjects is not a part of our lives or is a part of our life, but not to as great an extent as the others, then the overall balance of our spiritual life will be affected adversely (negatively).
1. Daily spiritual study (knowledge or gyan)
Daily spiritual study provides the right quality of nourishment for our mind and intellect, the two important energies of the soul.
2. Daily meditation (spiritual yoga)
Daily meditation provides the means to explore, discover and reconnect with oneself and with God.
3. The inculcation and development of virtues (dharna)
Giving some time each day to the conscious development of our character (virtue) helps to eliminate any negative sanskars or personality characteristics (vices) arid improves our ability to build positive and harmonious relationships. The quality of our relationships is a mirror reflection of our dharna.
4. The service of others (seva)
A life purpose based on some kind of service is the foundation of personal growth through the practice of giving. Finding appropriate ways to use our increasing spiritual power and understanding (through the three subjects mentioned above) for the benefit of others is the most satisfying way to use our energy today. It also ensures happiness for the present as well as for the future through accumulation of positive energy in the form of blessings of those who are served.
With powers of purity, peace and love, we are able to fly above all obstacles and adverse situations.
Traffic jams are a fact of life in most cities today. Almost everyone who has lived in a city or visited one has an experience of being stuck in the middle of vehicles inching along at snail’s pace.
How does one feel in a traffic jam? One feels powerless to get out of it or to move as fast as one would like to. This helplessness gives rise to impatience, irritation, anger, frustration or even despair. If one is on one’s way to an important appointment or to catch a train or a flight they would also be worried if stuck in a traffic jam.
A common reaction in such a situation is to blame others for one’s plight. One may fault the government for not building wider roads, dismiss the traffic police as incompetent for letting a jam occur or even question why the other motorists need to drive a car and why they can’t use public transport instead. One may also curse one’s fate for having taken that route or chosen that particular time to travel.
The result of all this is a loss of ease and a negative state of mind.
Something similar happens when we experience a traffic jam of thoughts. Such a jam occurs when we are thinking too much without having control over our thoughts. The thoughts come fast and the mind gets swept away in their flow in such a way that it is incapable of stopping the thoughts or changing their direction. This ordeal ends only after much time and mental energy is lost and one is left exhausted.
This traffic jam in the mind occurs only when we think waste or negative thoughts. Negative thoughts come very fast and in large number and they deplete our mental energy. One example is worrying about the future. One starts creating all sorts of possible negative scenarios that one may have to face, and gets stressed by merely thinking of them. While the mind is caught in these negative thoughts one feels as if they are actually experiencing those negative situations, forgetting that they are not real but a figment of our own imagination.
Even if one is faced with a negative situation in real life - be it the behavior of other people or a circumstance creation by others - if one gets influenced by its negativity, they may get caught in whirlpool of negative thinking that will rob them of all powers of discernment, rational thinking, right judgement etc. and leave them confused, weak, angry or despondent.
What is needed in such situations is the ability to see things as they are, decide on the best way of dealing with them and then take the necessary steps, all in a calm way, without getting upset or upsetting others. When faced properly, no situation can really cause us mental disturbance. It is only when we get on a track of negative thinking that we get carried away by our own thoughts and make matters worse. Positive thoughts, by their very nature, are slow, few in number and they calm and empower the mind, and not drain it of energy the way negative thoughts do.
To avoid getting caught in a traffic jam of negative thoughts we need to learn the art of positive thinking, which will steer us away from the wrong mental track that leads to negativity.
Rajyoga meditation teaches us to create positive thoughts and channel our mental energies in the right direction. The basis of Rajyoga is the knowledge that we are souls, not bodies, and we are children of the Supreme Soul. This knowledge makes us realize that all the souls in the world are our brothers as we all have one Father, by whatever name we may call Him.
When we remember the Supreme Soul with this awareness, we start to receive His powers and qualities of peace, purity, love etc. With regular practice of Rajyoga the soul gets empowered and enriched with powers and virtues. Thus strengthened, the soul becomes capable of facing any situation without being influenced by it. Negativities and vices cannot shake such a soul, whose elevated stage enables it to fly above all obstacles unhindered, whereas earlier the same soul would have got caught up in the negativity of situations and spent its time and energy struggling to get out.
This is just one of the practical benefits of practicing Rajyoga, which truly teaches us the art of living.