The concept of positive mysticism can give us an understanding of how we can achieve spiritual growth while meeting the challenges of the age, writes Sant Rajinder Singh
People all over the world are searching for solutions to the mysteries of life and death to find out what lies beyond this physical world. Books, magazine articles, and conferences show that interest in spiritual pursuits is growing. More and people want to learn how to achieve inner peace through spiritual experiences. In modern life, we find it hard to strike a happy medium in the development of our spiritual, intellectual, and physical sides. The pressures of life force us to give more weight to our intellectual growth, for that is what counts in our school, career, and in finding a good job. Our physical side is considered to be important for good health. We value exercise and sports for our physical and mental well-being. Health experts today are pointing out how physical exercise also relieves stress.
Thus, modern society as a whole values intellectual and physical growth. Unfortunately, it does not place a high value on spiritual development. We are brought up to associate spirituality with the rites and rituals of our religious institutions. If people tell us they are searching for God, we equate them with monks in a monastery sitting on wooden benches and praying day and night. In the past, people would leave their homes and their families to search for God in the forests or deserts. But the industrial and technological ages have made such demands upon humanity that people cannot abandon the world to pursue spirituality.
The challenge to address is: How can we pursue spirituality in the setting of modern life? How can we search for God in a way that is socially acceptable and socially responsible? How can we attain spiritual heights without sacrificing our intellectual and physical growth? And how can we do so in the context of our family and community life?
Many people in the West are under the misconception that those who search for God must leave their homes and society and live in the jungles or on mountaintops. Perhaps, it was possible in the past, before we had such an interdependent economic system. But in today’s world, who can support themselves, not to mention their families, without holding jobs and contributing to society?
We can attain self-knowledge and God-realisation in the context of modern life. We can lead a productive, fulfilling life in the world while working towards spiritual ends. Sant Darshan Singh called this approach “positive mysticism”. This is opposed to “negative mysticism”, which requires one to give up the world in order to find God. The path of positive mysticism enables one to achieve the best of both worlds. The concept of positive mysticism can give us an understanding of how we can achieve spiritual growth while meeting the challenges of the age.
Spiritual development is a process by which we attain self-knowledge and God-realisation. We have a physical body, and we have a mind and intellect. Spiritual growth involves the realisation that we are not the body and the mind, but in reality we are soul. Throughout our lives, we have become so identified with our body and mind that on our own we cannot separate our true self from them. In fact, the great teachers of ancient Greece exhorted us to do so with the words, “know thyself”. This expression is written on the entrance to the temple of the Delphic Oracle.
Spiritual teachers, who have mastered the art of knowing themselves, can teach others how to achieve this goal. If we look at the various methods used throughout history, we find that the most effective way to realise ourself is through meditation. Saints, seers, and mystics have told us that God is within. They further explain that soul is a part of God. If we can turn our attention from the world outside to inside, we will find that we are soul and realise God, who is within us. We will experience ourselves as soul, separate from the body. We will experience the exhilaration of being free from the bodily cage, and we will soar like a bird through higher realms of consciousness.
Words are inadequate to describe the intoxication and thrill of the higher realms. We see vistas of beauty beyond any we can dream of in this world. But nothing can compare with the absolute bliss our soul experiences when it reunites with the Creator. When our soul reaches its ultimate goal, it merges back into its source. God is the source of all love, the source of all bliss. When the soul merges back with Him, two become one. We enter a state of eternal and lasting happiness and love. This is the highest goal of our meditation. The beauty of the meditation process is that these experiences stay with us forever. After meditation, the soul returns to the body and it carries with it the intoxication and bliss from its sojourn in the beyond.
This process of meditation can be practised in the comfort of our own home, while sitting in a train on the way to work, or in any moment of solitude. It involves no difficult practice, no rigorous postures. We can meditate when sitting in any pose that is most convenient and in which we can sit still for a period of time. Meditation on the inner light and sound is so simple that it can be practised by a child or an elderly person, by those who are healthy and those who have physical disabilities. After finding a comfortable position, one closes one’s eyes, gazes within, and experiences, through the help of a teacher, the divine light and sound. As we can see, this process does not require us to sit on a mountaintop or in a jungle. It can be done in our home and society.
Spirituality is an active path. We become more involved in the betterment of our world. Positive mysticism means that while pursuing spiritual progress, we also make a positive contribution to our family, society, and the world at large. If we are sincerely interested in knowing ourselves, the means of doing so are available. We will be performing the greatest service to our own self by developing spiritually, and we will become a positive force in the lives of our family, friends, co-workers, and the world. We will find the perfect balance in our lives as we develop our body, mind, and spirit. By practising positive mysticism, we can successfully meet the challenge of the age.
The writer is a spiritual leader