As religious people, we are involved with a certain amount of traditional, ceremonial, and dogmatic behavior.
We, the human beings, often do it automatically because when we were children, we were simply told to behave and even think in a prescribed way.
But, do we really experience Spiritual Growth when we visit a church, do a good deed, pray a lot, utter God’s word, believe what others told us to believe, belong to any particular belief system, grow beards, meditate, get circumcised, wear turbans, etc.?
To answer that ‘question, we have to know first what constitutes spiritual growth.
What Constitutes Spiritual Growth?
Perhaps all these traditional and practical ways are important things, but spiritual growth simply occurs when the spirit grows and the ego shrinks.
Any spiritual growth happens only in direct relationship to a shrinking ego: without a shrinking ego, there is no spiritual growth.
Through continuous meditation, eventually, we experience ourselves in its naturally pure state; in our inner being. It is then that we realize that our Self-awareness is never born and never dies. We are going to awaken spiritually.
To find that pure existence is the purpose of all spiritual exercise and one of our best tools is meditation.
Like many spiritual concepts, spiritual growth is a misnomer. In reality, the spirit does not grow or shrink: it is always the way it is.
What is a spirit anyway? It is that which knows that it exists. Other names for spirit are life-force, soul, awareness, or beingness.
Spiritual Growth Versus a Growing EGO
If we do a good deed selflessly without the slightest consideration of the rewards or fruit of the spirit, as a result, we grow spiritually.
If we do that good deed and feel proud or even simply good, we strengthen the ego. Tricky but logical, is it not?
Likewise, if we meditate and reduce our thinking of the present moment, we uncover more of the spirit.
But, again, if we feel proud of our accomplishments as a result of otherwise proper meditation and conscious self-control, we have not really accomplished anything at all.
Spiritual growth has to continue until we rest without remaining wishes, attachments, dreaming, and thinking in pure sawareness. Pure awareness (God) is where we rest in eternal peace and bliss.
Once this is understood, the mind will still resist and state that it is not yet ready for such a permanent condition. That might be so, but such thinking is simply the result of having lost awareness of this superior condition of the Soul.
Spiritual Journey and Christian Life: Where to Begin?
Why are we interested in faith goodness? Why do we bother to look for divine power? Why do some of us insist they love God when they do not know God nor that God even exists?
The answer, if we are honest, is that we are trying to survive in our everyday life and daily process, to save our soul and, if possible, even our skin.
Our first questions should then be: Does God exist? Is survival after death possible? If so, what is it that survives?
There are always those who insist they have all the answers and there are also other believers who laugh at these statements without investing as much as a second thought. Is there any chance for us to find that needle of Truth in this huge haystack of confusion?
Maybe the answer is closer than we think and already known by the only person we know we can trust – ourselves. There is a way to unveil the Self in form of Pure Awareness. Once the Self is known, all else is known. Then we know the Truth about God and how we ultimately survive with faith.
First, let us take a look at Scripture and Religion. If we ignore the non-essential and look for the essential, the real meaning, then all religious scripture and all religions do more agree than disagree.
To give a few examples: All religions have followers who seem to be more concerned with external matters but there are always a few who go deeper; they are called the Mystics, Saints, Self-realized, and so on.
When we study their writings they all agree on the most essential points: There is a God, that God can be found at the Center of our Being and we can unite with God to become One.
Essentially, all scriptures agree on all the points the mystics and saints agree with. A comparison with two of the more popular scriptures the New Testament (NT) and the Bhagavad Gita (BG) will serve to make this point:
Can We Gain Knowledge of God and Heaven and Do We Have to Wait Until After We Are Dead to Find Out?
NT: Matt 6:33 “First seek the Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness;”
BG: 7:5 “Know also my other higher nature the Spirit, through which the Universe is sustained.”
Where Can Heaven be Found?
NT: Lk 17:20 The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; Because the Kingdom of God is WITHIN you.”
BG: 6:5 “The supreme Reality exists WITHIN himself.”
BG: 5:24 “The Yogi (seeker) who is happy WITHIN who rejoices WITHIN, and who is illumined WITHIN attains freedom in Brahman (God) himself becoming one with God.”
What is the Nature of God and Heaven?
NT: Rom 14:17 “The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink (Material), but Righteousness and Peace, and Joy in the Holy Spirit (Spiritual).”
BG: 15:16 “There are two beings in the world: The perishable and the imperishable. The perishable (Material) comprises all creatures, and the Imperishable (Spiritual) is said to be the Unchanging.”
8:21 This Unmanifested is called the imperishable. That is my supreme Abode (Heaven).”
Can We Really Unite With God?
NT: John 17:21-23 “I pray that they may all be ONE…May they be in Us, just as you are in Me and I am in You. May they all be ONE…
BG: 6:31 “He who, having been established in ONENESS, worships me dwelling in all beings – that Yogi, in whatever way he leads his life, lives in Me.”
How Can We Unveil Our True Self and Unite with God and Our Savior Jesus Christ?
NT: Col 3:9 “For you have to put off the old self (ego) with its habits and have to put on the new Self. This is the new Being which God its Creator, is constantly renewing in His Image in order to bring you to a full knowledge of Himself.”
BG: 6:6 “To him who has conquered himself by Himself, his own Self is a friend.”
What is God’s Nature and What is Consequently Our Real Nature?
This question is best answered by the names given to God by the American Natives and the Jews in what some call the Old Testament (OT).
The Natives talk about the Great Spirit which not only gives God a name but hints about what God’s Nature is like: It is Spirit. This spirit is the same as Beingness, ultimate Existence, or Awareness.
OT: “I AM that I AM” (Ex. 3:14 JHVH or JAHWE), which is the perfect description for Pure Beingness.
BG: “By that devotion, he who knows Me, knows what, in Truth, I AM and who I AM.” On another occasion, it says: “God is Spirit (Awareness).”
This can be continued and other scriptures may be added, the point is: different types of Scripture and different religions are not so different when properly understood.
What is the Best Attitude Towards Spiritual Maturity and Inner Peace?
Even so, it appears to be a remnant of the dark ages, we still hear occasionally about the necessity to fear God with the usual quotes out of the Bible following.
However, this must be taken out of context and is mostly used by people who already fear God because of their perceptions about God and a general fear of the unknown.
There is no need to go into a lengthy theological argument either because the first commandment clearly says that one should: “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul.” You don’t really fear anything you truly love and there is no need for it.
Moreover, since God can only be found at the center of our being (within), God and our own Pure Being relate in quality like the drop of water relates to the quality of the lake.
In that sense, any fear of God would amount to nothing less than fearing one’s own Self.
The right attitude should rather be a curiosity that can only be satisfied when the result of its inquiries is found.
Other qualities include patients, persistence, harmlessness, and in the general following, the rules and laws set out in scriptures followed by Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and others.
The most important attitude, of course, remains to be interest and curiosity, because whatever we treasure most finds usually all of our interest (Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”)
Is There Any Spiritual Progress or Comfort For The Aged, The Terminally ILL, or Anyone Facing or Fearing Death?
1. We may draw strength from our systems of belief.
All religions including all-natural belief systems and basic principles agree that life goes on. They also agree on the existence of God and Lord Jesus Christ.
Even if some mention three (Trinity) or more Gods than these Gods are still to be understood as aspects of one and the same God.
2. We may draw strength from science.
According to science, we cannot really say that we are able to destroy something (anything) so completely that it fades into non-existence.
We can only change the shape and condition of the object. Even if we burn something and ‘destroy’ its ashes, the object still continues as energy. If we destroy ourselves, the material part of our bodies continues as energy and the Awareness continues as Awareness.
The very reason that Awareness continues is that it did not develop out of dead matter or lifeless energy. Those materialistic scientists who laughed and promised proof that awareness is nothing but a byproduct of biological processes failed to do so.
Other scientists are now confirming the wisdom of biblical truth, ancient philosophers, saints, and sages.
3. We may draw strength from the personal experience of others.
People have never come back from the dead. Did you hear that expression? It is not true. There are more than a few people who have returned from the clinically dead to tell us about it.
There are also more than a few people who had out-of-body experiences and even the government has admitted to research in this area for obvious reasons.
4. We may draw strength from the real witnesses
These are the Apostles (like Apostle Paul), Saints, Sages, Rishis, Self-realized persons, Mystics, Avatars, advanced Yogis, etc.
5. We may draw strength from our spiritual exercises and personal experience.
Try to become one with your object of devotion, concentrate fully on God, or simply love your inner Self to a point that only pure Awareness continues to exist.
When you experience the inner Bliss and Beingness you will be filled with more comfort than you thought you were in need of. Let us not fear a genuine spiritual growth experience more than we fear death.
Spiritual Growth: The Fastest Path to God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit
It is important to set out on spiritual journeys with a clear goal/purpose and be open to new experiences. So take a deep breath and make yourself open to God’s word, otherwise, you will miss the deepest spiritual lessons.
The fastest path to God is laid out in this first “Commandment”. Concentration or total devotion, as the result of following this first “Commandment”, is also the path of all Yogis and all Yoga traditions.
The only difference is: By calling it the path Concentration, Meditation, or Contemplation, there is less confusion in regards to this reward and punishment system some people believe in.
For Yogis, the reward lies in finding God as the Self and punishment lies in the failure of doing so in this lifetime.