Spirituality. Few mistake it to be an eternal process of feeling good. Some regard it to be a means in which God protects them and a few even mistake it to be able to do yoga poses!
Guest author Ganesh Kuduva writes about his experience with spirituality and what it means to him.
What is spirituality?
- Is it seeing or realizing God?
- Is it serving humanity?
- Is it turning inward?
- Is it attaining enlightenment?
- Is it about not taking rebirth?
- Is it about self-realization?
When we hear the word spirituality, these are some of the questions that come to our mind.
And if you search for a Google definition, this is what pops up:
“The quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”
In certain ways, it is something to do with our soul or the spirit – something that we cannot see but can only feel or realize.
Every individual goes through his or her own spiritual journey, some early in their life, some a little later and many just wait until they retire from work and then surrender to God or follow spiritual practices without knowing what to do.
Many of us are brought up in such a way, where in, we are taken to a lot of temples, churches, mosques during childhood. As a kid, we are instructed to worship the Almighty, so God may help us in our academics, over all well-being and development. The belief is seeded deeply in us before even our consciousness develops.
This continues for many years as one grows – -Through most of our schooling, college days and even during the initial few years of our professional life.
One sees more of the world, only after one gets into a specific profession. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we spend most of our life time dealing with our professions. One’s thought process or the view of the world in all aspects, expands. The expansion is more when one reads a lot, has more friends, faces many challenges in life and most importantly, looks into oneself deeply than getting lost in the worldly things.
People turn inward (I call it becoming spiritual) for many reasons.
- In search of happiness
- In search of peace
- In search of satisfaction
- In search of fulfillment
- In search of true meaning or purpose in life
Turning spiritual has its own benefits whether one explicitly looks for it or not. Here are some to name a few:
- One starts being truthful to oneself.
- One starts living the purpose of life.
- One starts understanding one’s own self, than anything else.
- One starts asking questions and most importantly, gets ready to find answers through several means.
- One starts leading a simple life and attains more humility.
- One starts becoming more compassionate and places the wellness of others before his or her own self.
- One starts exploring new areas which can give him or her answers one seeks.
Personally, I also have been spiritual in nature and I still am.
When I was younger, it was a kind of devotion in me that made me to do a few things:
- Visiting Meenakshi Amman temple in my hometown (Madurai) every Friday for a year.
- I did walk to Thirupparankundram three times barefoot (one of the 6 hills where it is believed that, lord Muruga/Subramanya lives)
- Visiting Nanganallur Aanjaneya temple almost every morning forseveral months when I lived in Chennai.
In a bigger perspective these are simple things in comparison to what several people do or go through when they reach the peak of spirituality. However to me, I consider these to be some of my own unique experiences or introduction into my own spiritual journey.
My spiritual journey made me attend the Art of Living basic course in 2010 where they teach Sudarshan Kriya and the course also offers self-introspection activities. Sudarshan Kriya was more of a breathing practice. On the first day, the course instructor informed the attendees that, as they do the kriya, one may experience various emotional feelings, the first few times. As he mentioned, on the first day, I somehow cried a lot. On the second day, I laughed a lot. I definitely felt strange. On the third day, I managed to become normal post the kriya practice. Coming out of that course, I continued to do Sudarshan kriya for many weeks and during every single session; I would introspect a lot about myself. Over and above all, I attained a remarkably peaceful and calm feeling that is hard to comprehend till date.
In 2012, I had taken my parents to Kollur Mookambika temple. My mom wanted to visit this temple since the past several years and I finally took her there. As she worshipped the Goddess , she broke into tears. Later, when I was conversing with her, she told me why she broke into tears. It seems, she had thoughts about some of our relatives, who have been going through difficult times in their lives.
I got convinced that, in the path of spirituality, the ultimate goal is to attain not only peace and self-realization, it is about going beyond ourselves, loving others, , experiencing good thoughts about others and how others can become better in their lives.
Very close friends generally become key influencers, in the journey of spirituality. The discussion with them on spiritual aspects, talking about those who are enlightened, spiritual experiences, differences between religion(s) and spirituality, spiritual books, spiritual magazines, how saints used yoga as a way to progress in spirituality, various paths in yoga and much more, opens the door to the spiritual journey.
In my spiritual journey, reading books on spirituality has made a significant difference in me. One of my key readings has been the book “Autobiography of a Yogi”, written by Paramahamsa Yogananda (100 best books of 21st century). He was an Indian yogi and guru who introduced millions of Indians and westerners to the teachings of meditation and kriya yoga through his organization Yogoda Satsanga Society of India and Self-Realization Fellowship. I recommend anyone who is in the path of spirituality to read this book.
At this juncture, I remotely recall, one of the scenes from the movie “Sri Raghavendra”, that was Rajnikanth’s 100th movie. In the movie, the character Raghavendrar goes to his guru to become his disciple. Guru asks him “Who are you?” Raghavendrar says “I have come to you to learn that”. As far as my memory goes, it is one of my earliest spiritual triggers that I had to ponder about.
Finally, spiritual journey to me is all about how much I lived and how I could observe myself. I learnt about myself, consciously saw myself evolving as a person, witnessed how my thought process changed from living for myself to living compassionately, I also learnt how to lead my life with little or no desires (my daughter’s arrival was one of the prime incidents in my life, where I was able to exercise separating myself from my desire to have a daughter. Whenever my desire grew to have a daughter, I distanced myself from that desire and told myself that, be it a boy or a girl, I am happy if the life is born well without any issues. Eventually I had a daughter as I wished)
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