Evaluating Growth on the Spiritual Path
The spiritual path can be a confusing journey, and whether one is going forwards, backwards, or totally off-track may not be obvious at all. Sadhguru answers a seeker’s question about evaluating “spiritual progress.”
Question: How do we known how much spiritual growth we have experienced? How do we know we are moving ahead on the spiritual path?
Sadhguru: In the initial phase, do not worry about whether you are moving ahead or backwards because your logical judgments will be very misleading. When you sit for your kriya in the morning, your legs will tell you that you are going backwards, and your family will also probably tell you to stop this nonsense. So in the initial phase, do not judge anything. It is always best to start a spiritual process with an unconditional commitment for a certain period of time. No so-called "spiritual growth" or benefit needs to happen to you. Just simply do the practice out of commitment for six months. After that, evaluate your life and see how peaceful, joyous and calm you are. What is it doing with you?
Even a man who has reached the peak within himself always takes time to evaluate himself, maybe not in the usual ways, but he does in many other ways. A certain incident happened in Gautama Buddha’s life. On a certain day, everybody came and bowed down to Buddha but one man came and spat on his face. Anandatheerta, Buddha’s close disciple who adored and worshiped him, got really angry. He said, “Give me permission, and I will teach this man a lesson. How could he spit on your face?” Gautama said, “No,” and thanked that man. He said, “Thank you very much for spitting on my face because this has given me an opportunity to see whether I am still capable of anger or not. I am very happy to know that I am not angry even if people spit on my face. That is very good. You helped me evaluate myself, and at the same time, you have also given Ananda that opportunity. So thank you very much. You have made both of us realize where we are right now.”
So give yourself to a certain period of sincere practice without expecting anything to happen. Don’t look for miracles to happen. The greatest miracle in life is life itself. The very process of life, that you are sitting here and breathing, is a miracle. If you do not appreciate this miracle, and are looking for some other miracle where some God will extend his hand out of the clouds and do something to you, then you are still very childish. You have not matured into an adult and you still believe in fairytales. So do not be in a hurry to evaluate your spiritual process; just allow it to sink in.
Generally in this tradition, the normal commitment that was demanded to start any spiritual process was twelve years. You simply say a mantra for twelve years and then look at what is happening with you. Even now, many spiritual sects in India follow this path. A Guru gives you a mantra to utter for twelve years, and then you come back to see your progress. But today, people have become so impatient with life. Even if we ask for twelve days of commitment, people have so many problems. People are complaining that it is too long!
Gautama Buddha had his own methods. If anybody came to him, there was absolutely no teaching, no spirituality or anything for two years – you would just hang around. If you could wait for two years, then a certain quality came and something else would happen to you. When he initiated you, it happened in a big way for you. But now, people are struggling to wait because the modern mind has become so impatient. Do not be in a hurry. Just stick to the practice, evaluate yourself periodically and see.
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