The 3 Gifts of Spiritual Practice
In spiritual life there are three important concepts that can further your spiritual development and make all the difference. The first concept is Dharma. Without Dharma, there is no spiritual life. Dharma is that movement towards the great, towards the divinity that underlies all existence. Without Dharma there is no spiritual life. So, Dharma is the movement towards the divinity.
You may involve yourself with things of the world, but unless you move towards that enlightened state, towards that awakened knowledge, there is no true movement in life. And that movement, that process of moving towards that awakened state, that enlightenment, is Dharma. Those things that support that movement, they are part of Dharma. And each person has the universal Dharma, for it is the Dharma of human beings--Bhagavad Dharma—to move towards the great. It is our natural inclination.
But every person also has their own personal Dharma, their Svadharma, their Dharma as a unique individual, their own personal way, their own personal journey. Each of you has this Dharma. So, when you align yourself both with the universal Dharma of human beings and with your own unique Dharma, and you move your life towards your divine goal, then that alignment with Dharma moves you from your ego-centered understanding of the world to the divine, cosmic existence. So, understanding and following Dharma is the first, very significant tool that you have for spiritual life.
The second tool you have for spiritual life is Sangha. Without Sangha, there is no—there is difficulty to follow the spiritual path for many people. Because you are often influenced by the forces around you, the people around you. And if those forces, those people do not support your following Dharma, it becomes very difficult to follow Dharma. So, some place in your life you need Sangha; you need the company of like-minded people who support you in your journey towards divinity. So, Dharma and Sangha are the first two great tools that you have for spiritual life.
And the third tool that you have for spiritual life that is most significant is awareness of that enlightened state, the enlightened one—that you might come to know that enlightened state by association with those that already have an experience of this, that you come in the contact of saints and sages, that you read the writings of saints and sages, that you hear talks, that you contemplate words of truth, understanding.
From this you can bring deeper understanding to the mind, that you understand your pathway, you understand what you are doing and where you are going. But more importantly, as the teachings sink into you, you begin to feel the way. You begin to know deep in your being the light of the inner truth. So, following and knowing the teachings is the third great gift you have in spiritual life.
The Dharma, the Sangha, and the way of the masters, the teachings of the masters, these three tools are your great gifts given to you on your spiritual path. And following them will greatly enhance your journey and bring you to the realms of truth, to the shores of love, to the light within you, the radiant existence that transcends your individuality, transcends your sense of self and other, so that in that light there is only the love, only the truth of the inner-born Self.
There is only the love which has always existed, will always exist. In that light, in that truth, you are not an individual. You are part of that radiant existence. When you surrender to that love, to that presence, that all-compassionate presence, the divine existence, it is something vast, intelligent, radiant beyond words that cannot be defined or confined by ideas in the human mind. Rather, the mind can let go, and the heart can feel, and in that feeling dissolve the sense of duality, the sense of separation into this wholeness of light, the wholeness of love, the wholeness of being, so that there exists not two, but one. One truth, one love, one essential being.
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Maetreyii Ma: a teacher of yogic wisdom & practices