Observing the Results of our Practice

Observing the Results of our Practice

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Many of us question, ‘Which is the fastest or best spiritual path?’

There is probably no right answer to the question because the question is probably not correctly framed. A better question to ask is, ‘Which is the right path for me?’ This question can be more eaily answered; but it can only be answered by one self.

Everyone has different thinking patterns and habitual tendencies. As such, there is not a single practice that can prove effective for everyone. Even for an individual, different practices may be appropriate at different points or phases in the one’s life. Instead of fighting over which religion is right or wrong, the world would be better off if everyone accepts that diversity is necessary to cater to humanity’s varied requirements and tastes.

So, how can we tell what works for us? The answer lies in our power of observation. Some teachings make us feel lighter and at peace while some fill us with fear and guilt. Some teachings may just be interesting knowledge which does not contribute much to our life apart from their entertainment value. Having this knowledge may even be bad for us if they feed our ego and close our mind to new teachings. We will then be stuck in our current state until we realise our folly.

There are many forms of spiritual practices such as meditation, mantra recitation, yogic techniques as so on. There are also many types of practices within each of the category mentioned. To identify the practices that are effective for us, it is important to observe our state of mind and emotions after doing these practices. We may feel peaceful during the practice but we need to observe if that state of peacefulness can sustained after the practice. Are we able to better handle negative circumstances after our practice or are we more irritable because we have become attached to the peaceful feeling attained during the practice? If the practice makes us feel more energetic and alert, then it would be better to perform the practice in the morning instead of doing it before bedtime.

We should also observe the effects of the practices we perform at night, on our feelings the next day; do we wake up feeling more light-hearted and refreshed? If we do, we can conclude that the practice can contribute positively to our day to day life. We should also compare it to our feelings the next day if instead of practicing the previous night, we spent the evening attending some function or watching a violent movie. This will provide us with some benchmark to truly see the beneficial effects of our practice.

Some may think that the results of their spiritual practice must come in the form of some beautiful visions or the appearance of a deity. This view blinds them to the real benefits of their spiritual practices that contributes to their well-being, health and wealth. When we become aware of the real benefits of our spiritual practice, we will automatically stop seeing it as work or something we must do.  It will be like taking a shower every day. Bathing does not feel like a chore because we look forward to feeling clean after our bath. Therefore, we never have to complain that we are too busy to shower!

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