What to do with Spiritual Experiences?

By Rudra Shivananda

pexels-photo-371997.jpegFrequently, students email and ask about the experiences that they have during their practice. Should one drop the practice and flow with the visions? Spiritual experiences can be very inspiring and help to validate that one is on the right path. However, such experiences can also be intoxicating and lead to unrealistic expectations.

It is important to keep in mind and constantly in sight the goal of our practice: Self-Realization. The objective of our practices is to remove the obstacles that prevent us from realizing our true nature and until that is accomplished, one should practice diligently and regularly as prescribed during the start or initiation into the specific path we are on. Any disruption or discontinuation of the practice is a detour from our goal and should not be entertained.

If an experience happens during practice, one should detach from it and continue with the practice. There are many such experiences of lesser or greater significance but they are all forms of distraction that can take us away from our goals. The only exception would be an ecstatic state of super-consciousness which is a state of awareness which is beyond mundane visions – an experience of this nature is beyond the mind and therefore the five senses and should not be confused with a mental experience. One needs not be concerned that there would be confusion between the higher super-conscious experience and the lower mental experience – there is no way to detach from a super-conscious state and such a thought would not even be possible.

There will also be spiritual insights and experiences when one is not actively meditating – during a restful time or even during work – it can happen anytime, and is the side-effect of one’s regular spiritual practice and past karmic efforts. One should learn from these experiences and give thanks for them. However, one should not form expectations or become addicted to them. One can become obsessed with insights and blissful experiences and try to duplicate them or even imagining them – this would lead to a negative mind-set if they are not recurring. What a shame it would be if someone drops away from their practice because they are not getting the vicarious experience they want!

It is also important not to fall into the trap of developing psychic powers so as to access the extra-sensory experiences as these are not the fruit of one’s practice and will lead to strengthening the ego, rather than realization of the true self. Psychic experiences are detours from the spiritual path and should be avoided.

In future articles, I will examine some of the major spiritual milestones which have been discussed by the Masters. Normally, it is not advisable to describe the details of the experiences because it might provide mental obstacles to their individual unfolding. There is also the danger that some spiritual seekers in their over-eagerness might simply imagine the experience in their minds – many have been fooled by their minds.
It is not my intention to be overly cautious about spiritual experiences but it is my duty to warn against being taken for a ride by the ego-mind. Enjoy yourself but don’t strive or expect the experiences or try to hold on to them.

 

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