Spirituality and World Life are Interdependent

Spirituality and World Life are Interdependent

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

The title of this book is ‘bridging spirituality and worldly life’. Building that bridge is necessary if we want success in both these aspects. They are interdependent and we need to strengthen both aspects if we wish to gain happiness. It is either we get happiness from both or we get none from either one. We cannot concentrate on one aspect and ignore the other.

Some people might think that once they achieve some spiritual experience, there will be an automatic uplift in their worldly life. That is not possible. Meditation teachers will tell you that those people who get fantastic experiences in their meditation are those who are naturally kind and good-hearted; who will never hurt another being. They go into deep meditation even when they have never meditated before. This shows that how we live our life will affect our spiritual progress.

That is why the first thing all religions teach is moral conduct. They lay out all the deeds, speech and thought we should avoid and those that we should inculcate. We should not steal, kill, lie, engage in sexual misconduct or indulge in intoxicants. Some of us may avoid these out of fear of punishment from God. The better way is to see that the suffering that comes from doing these things far out-weights any delusional joy that we gain from them. When we indulge in intoxicants, we may gain a short period of feeling ‘high’ but when we compare it to the resulting problems; we can see that it is not worth it. We may do or say things that we may later regret, harm our health and have to go through the horrible hangover the next day.

We can sometimes get attached to negative thoughts. For instance, I may be jealous of what my neighbour has. Day in and day out, I torture myself with what I lack. But if I stop to see that I am only harming myself and ask if I want to continue to live this way, then I may begin to let go of my attachment to those negative thoughts and emotions.

How we live our life will benefit our spiritual practices which will in turn bring greater happiness into our worldly life.

Most of us see meditation as sitting quietly with our eyes closed. That is not the only way of meditation. We can turn everything into a meditation practice, for instance, while walking on the treadmill, we can meditate by observing the movement of our legs and feet or we could observe our emotions or breath. We can focus our awareness on anything that we feel comfortable with. Similarly, we can meditate while standing or walking or just resting on our favourite lazy chair. This type of meditation which involves some form of activity can be very effective for those who find it difficult to do sitting meditation. One could do some walking meditation to calm the mind and reduce one’s restlessness before proceeding to sitting meditation.

We all go through astrologically good and bad periods. The movements of the planets affect all of us; just like how the changing seasons affect plants and trees. When we go through difficult periods, the best thing we can do to mitigate the negative astrological effects is to keep our emotions calm and maintain high levels of energy so that we do not spiral deeper into our problems. This is where our spiritual practices become very helpful.

Prayer and surrender are effective means to help us keep calm. By surrendering to the Divine, we let go of our worries because we know that there is a purpose to everything and nothing is completely bad. Opportunities arise from problems. We also let go of ill will towards those who have harmed us because we know that justice is inherent in the law of karma. Gandhi said that God invented the Law of Karma and then retired. It is an infallible law.

If we have learnt to enjoy our meditation practices, we can spend more time in meditation instead of wasting our energies on activities to distract ourselves from our problems. The yogic practice of ‘pranayama’ can draw life-force, called prana in Yoga or ‘chi’ in Chinese, into our body. If we can keep our energy levels up, we will be able to maintain our awareness instead of being caught up with our worries. We will be able to watch our emotions so that they do not spiral out of control (see the article Be Friends with your Emotions).

When we are able to see the interdependent nature of our spiritual and worldly life, we will stop questioning ourselves why we are not making progress in our spiritual practices. We are making progressing everyday; we just don’t see it.

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