Spiritual growth relies, in my opinion after decades of self work and study along with meeting many remarkable and unremarkable people, on the cultivation of your morals, personality and character.
A strong character with correct standards and morals is the first prerequisite step a normal person must take towards spiritual growth to attain bliss and balance.
To develop this requires many steps as all things of value do, the first being to eliminate negative emotions. Negative emotions include aggressive as well as passive traits from anger to guilt. You must eliminate erratic and out of control reactions so that you can gain control through removing moments of lack of control. All things are attained by eliminating their opposite quality. Negative emotions can be summed up in a simple yet multi-definition comparison of a subjective versus objective view of all things.
The process of spiritual growth is really quite logical. All things have a balancing opposite in order for them to exist. Hot and cold, soft and hard, anger and love, guilt and innocence, fear and confidence all only exist because of their opposite. Likewise, gaining self control comes by eliminating the moments in which we lose control.
Eliminate negative anger that comes for no reason or has no value.
Cut attachments and their control over you.
Acquire humility by eliminating arrogance.
Develop compassion by eliminating thoughtless actions.
And many others.
These are acquired through the understanding of the machine of your mind, in essence, we are cultivating our mind and personality through understanding how it malfunctions in order to get it in correct function. This allows for the personality and false negative ego to be tamed and removed as a block towards self understanding by seeing truth in yourself and all things, objective reality at all times.
My experience shows without doubt that this is the path towards true and lasting spiritual evolution which is not the same as spiritual or psychic capacities which one can acquire while having a terrible and harmful personality. Those abilities are impressive to humans but do not give the inner state of bliss and balance which are the side effects of spiritual enlightenment.
A simple analogy is dry skin. If you have very dry skin and you put moisturizing cream on one hand, that will not help the other hand or the rest of your body. By developing spiritual abilities and pursuing a life of spiritual practices withOUT working on your personality to remove negative qualities and blocks, will NOT deliver a lasting or profound spiritual development.
Spiritual work alone will not deliver the spiritual goals you seek because the spirit will still be trapped in the human personality. The chick will remain stuck in the egg and not be able to break out. However, by working on the personality, we crack the egg and the chick will break out naturally and without effort, when the time is right.
I believe that our efforts must be 80% on the personality and mind and 20% on the spiritual practices. There are far too many people who devote their life to meditation yet are still lacking in basic human skills along with making virtually no progress in their spiritual growth.
By working on the spirit alone, we may attain nothing or very little, however the converse is not true. In fact, by working on the personality alone, we stand a better chance of achieving spiritual growth. In order to ensure success we must work on both in the appropriate percentages of effort.
Simply Be A Decent Human Being
Simply being a decent person who is not arrogant, is considerate, compassionate, loving and is not subject to losing your temper, negative anger, prejudice, subjective personal opinionated views and a closed mind is extremely difficult to be.
Achieving even a fraction of these qualities alone makes you an exceptional person and is a vital prerequisite to spiritual growth. However, many excellent people of a very high quality of character are not spiritually awakened but know that there is more to life and do not know where to look.
The path of spiritual growth via the qualities of character requires the effort of being a complete person plus the spiritual desire to undertake correct spiritual practices as a daily regime. With this combination the effort and actions are the same as a ‘normal’ person’s life but with different intentions. The Sufi say that your actions mean little but your intentions are all that matter.
Your intentions make a big difference in your actions even if there is no great obvious apparent difference. I am certain you can identify with doing something with a whole heart because you really want to please someone or doing it with half attention because you just do not care about the outcome. Your intention to please raises your effort to a far higher quality.
Because of this, my belief is that on our spiritual path, we have the best chance through the path of refining our human character as the exercise for spiritual practice while becoming a real person in the highest sense. With that achieved, I believe that we will accomplish the most we can.
It is the effort of constant attention at all times which makes the difference. Being present in mind and body and doing for the sake of doing the best you can rather than doing so that you look good or protect your reputation, is how a truly spiritual person lives.
A Sufi was asked what does a Sufi do. The reply was that a Sufi wakes up in the morning, makes their prayers and does all that a normal person does, goes to work, comes home, undertakes their spiritual practices, etc. But that the real spiritual work is in doing all the worldly things with the great attention as if all things are a service to God. This is not to be taken literally as if God needs us to serve Him by eating lunch or washing the dishes or going to work, but that we do these things as if we are serving God.
If you do not participate in most normal human activities how else will you get the opportunity for this training? This is why we work and live, in appearance only, as normal people yet our inner life is extraordinary.
The principles that you must work on will be covered in the next article.
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