Scriptures tell us that the soul or the spirit is an ever-constant supreme consciousness that neither regresses nor progresses. It can neither rise nor fall. It is vast, comprehensive, free of defects, and always remains pure. So, if our soul or the spirit can never regress or progress, why do we talk about spiritual advancement? Today, let us deliberate on what spiritual advancement means, and what one needs to do to advance spiritually.
As you might know, satogun (goodness), rajo gun( passion) and tamo gun (ignorance) are the three inherent qualities of nature that are omnipresent in the world all the time. Also, all of us are made up of three elements: our soul, mind, and body. When the three qualities of nature interact with our soul, mind and body, sat ( goodness) becomes one with the soul, rajja ( passion) establishes itself in the mind, and tama ( ignorance) is represented to the physical body.
The disquieting influence of rajja ( passion) makes the mind restless by conjugating itself with the ever-changing objects and affairs of the physical world. Forming constant associations with various worldly things, none of which turn out to be everlasting, makes our mind very perturbed and restive. As our soul and mind are intimately associated, the restlessness of the mind also influences the soul.
Forgetting its inherent blissful state, the Soul begins feeling anguish and distress. This distress of the mind and the Soul influences our body, and it endures a life of unrest and unhappiness. This is what represents regression. Reversing it, and restoring the state where the Soul starts experiencing it’s true blissful state again, resulting in our lives becoming eternally happy and peaceful, is what is meant by spiritual advancement.
Spiritual progress is the process of gradually reducing the mind’s attachment and affinity for the physical world and replacing it with an increasing association with the soul. This lets our soul’s light gradually permeate our mind and intellect, and illuminate everything on the inside and outside.
The more the mind becomes inclined towards the soul, and the more it comes under the soul’s influence, the more peace and joy one experiences. Happiness always prevails in such a person’s life; restlessness is nowhere to be found, and one finds oneself resting comfortably in the lap of fearlessness. Progressing steadily, one day, one would find oneself so close to one’s soul, that one would be able to experience nothing but the soul. One’s own identity would merge with, and become firmly established in the soul. When this happens, and one becomes one with one’s soul, one would see clearly for oneself, and understand the temporary nature, fickleness and changeability of everything in the physical world.
Soul is light, Soul is knowledge, and the soul is also an instrument that unlocks our intellect’s true potential. While the soul itself cannot be seen physically, it is in it’s light that one can see every object’s true reality and understand the real truths underpinning everything in this world. One who starts experiencing this light from one’s soul, relinquishes attachment to the false and constantly changing objects of the physical world. The matters of the physical world no longer seem concerning when one manages to establish a strong association with one’s soul. One moves from the realms of rajja (passion)and tama (ignorance), into the sphere of satt (goodness). All sufferings vanish. One becomes liberated from the cycle of life and death. Even as one lives in this world and performs all actions and duties that are expected, one remains internally connected to one’s source of bliss and keeps experiencing unparalleled joy. All paths of spiritual advancement are seeking exactly this state.
What do we have to do to advance spiritually?
The mind and body are both inert. They are only alive because of the life force infused in them by the Soul. Much like the sun sustains life on this earth by providing light and energy, it is the soul that sustains life in us. Just like the sun rises every day and beams down its life-giving rays on the earth, our soul is continuously showering it’s blissful rays on us. But it is we who have turned our backs towards it, and do not want to turn our gaze in that direction. While the soul is always ready to illuminate our intellect with its light and knowledge and always looks to inspire our mind to do the right thing, it is we who do not want to hear whatever it is trying to tell us. The minds of most present day humans attach no importance to the values and virtues of the soul. This is the reason for rampant unhappiness, lack of peace, and restlessness.
For our own benefit, we have to turn our gaze towards the soul and bring our mind and intellect under it’s peaceful influence. We have to listen attentively to the instructions it is giving to us and try to act on them. We always have to keep looking towards it to not miss any inspiration or instruction it may send our way. This process of redirecting our mind’s attention from the physical world to our Soul, and gradually filling ourselves with the Soul’s influence is what practices undertaken for spiritual advancement that we seek to accomplish.
The soul is an entity. It exists. One can see it, not with physical sight but with our mind or divine sight. However, before we are able to do that, we have to make an effort to activate our mind’s faculties that can see or experience the soul. The soul is not outside nor anywhere far from us, but inside, really close to us. It is subtle and hides somewhere in our hearts. We have to look for it inside with a concentrated gaze, every day, for about 30 minutes to 3 hours. We will find that our continuous effort will bear fruit, and we will start getting a glimpse of it and subsequently feel its presence with undeniable certainty and conviction. This vision will bestow upon us happiness, joy, energy, and knowledge; and will wholly transform us as a person.
Therefore, the only thing we need to do for our spiritual advancement is to disengage our mind from everywhere else and connect it to our soul. We have to let our Soul fill our mind with its wisdom and knowledge. Those who manage to establish a sound and secure connection with their soul do not need to do anything more. They would have achieved everything; they would have become complete, and would have reached the highest state.
Written by Guru Maharaj (Dr Chaturbhuj Sahay Ji). Translated by Dr. Anita and Dr. Ajay Bhardwaj.