A Simple But Powerful Spiritual Practice By Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda
Posted: February 19, 2010 in Austerity, Chanting, Conviction, Discipline, Effort, Japa, Karma Yoga, Mind, Practise, Sadhana, Silence, Spiritual Progress
It is common thinking throughout the world to make a division between the spiritual life and the secular life. But if all is one, if God alone is, then perhaps the purpose of our spiritual life is to recognise that there is no such thing as secular life, that all life is spiritual. It is a question of where our consciousness is. The purpose of our spiritual practices is to raise our consciousness to a point where we recognise the fact that all life is divine.
Most of the time our consciousness seems to be in what we could call a secular level. Is there a simple practice that we could observe during the day that would help raise our consciousness in a steady and consistent fashion?
We may not be able to find time during the day for longer periods of spiritual practice, but usually we can find times when we can just sit—in the kitchen, in the office, no matter where—for a few moments, and close our eyes and relax. That practice alone will help to steady our consciousness. If we add to it repetition of God’s name, our mind will become focused, our consciousness will be raised. And as we are repeating God’s name we can recognise that something is aware of that repetition. We don’t create a witness, because that’s just another thought, but whatever is in our mind, we recognise that something is knowing it.
That something can never be grasped, but it is never absent whether we are sitting quietly, whether we are active, whether we are dreaming or whether we are in deep sleep. The remembrance of that ungraspable witness raises our consciousness and puts us in another dimension. And all this can be done in a few moments.
The spiritual life is not, at its core, something dramatic. Except in very rare circumstances, it is a step by step journey that continues for years. Some time ago one of our senior devotees passed away. She was a housewife who for years and years had followed regular spiritual practices. She didn’t seem to be anything special, but when she was having her health crisis—even though she could have expected to have many more years to live—she was totally resigned to whether she lived or not. Swamiji (Swami Chidananda) marvelled. He said it is a result of her many years of consistent spiritual practice.
So we shouldn’t underestimate the inner spiritual power of something like simply—for a few moments as frequently as we can—sitting quietly, repeating God’s name and being aware that there is an unknowable witness who is always silently knowing everything.