by: Roger Gabriel (Raghavanand), The Chopra Centre
It’s sometimes easy to forget that everyone and everything in creation is connected by a spiritual web. Everyone has a spark of Light, deep within, waiting to be fanned by the flame of spiritual awakening. As French philosopher and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Everyone is spiritual, whether they are willing to admit it or not.
The poet Rumi put it beautifully when he wrote, “Consciousness sleeps in minerals, dreams in plants, wakes up in animals, and becomes self-aware in humans.” Everything has awareness, even if still dull and contracted in many instances. Just as the fruits on a tree ripen at their own pace, so too, our souls mature and become enlightened at different times. Everyone and everything is evolving at its own speed. Everyone’s destiny is enlightenment.
You may come across a few challenges when explaining your spirituality to others, but here are some tips.
Spiritual PrideOne of the biggest barriers to your spiritual growth may be pride—particularly spiritual pride. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The seeker after Truth should be humbler than dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet but the seeker after Truth should be so humble that even the dust would crush him/her.”
When talking about your spiritual journey, try to be humble and careful not to sound as if you are superior in some way. Avoid being confrontational by challenging someone else’s beliefs. Your practices may seem important to you but be open and accepting of other practices and points of view. When you respect others, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. Sadly, many of the conflicts in the world today are the result of one group trying to impose its idea of spirituality on another group. Remember, you only judge from your own level of ignorance.
What to Say If you have a regular spiritual practice, you are presumably receiving some benefits, and that is a good place to start the conversation. When you hear about anything new, you may ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?” or “How could I benefit from this?” People are more likely to be interested in something that’s proven to be useful to someone else. Speak from your own experiences, such as:
- What changes have you noticed in your life, your health, and your relationships with others?
- Are you less stressed?
- Are you more peaceful?
- Are your desires more easily fulfilled?
Know When to StopWhen you’ve just finished meditating on a flight and the stranger sitting next to you asks you what you were doing, he or she may not be expecting or wanting a 30-minute lecture. A few sentences are usually enough to gauge a person’s interest before launching into a fuller explanation. Certainly share your practices with your family and friends but learn when to stop. No one wants to be constantly preached at.
In my early twenties, four of us rented a big house together. Three of us learned to meditate around the same time but the fourth was a holdout. The three of us who meditated pestered him mercilessly. If he got a cold or had an argument with his girlfriend, we immediately pounced and told him that if he meditated none of those situations would have happened.
Unfortunately, rather than encouraging him to meditate, we drove him in the opposite direction until, at the slightest mention of meditation—however innocent—he would jump up and stamp out of the room. The lesson: Don’t try to convert anyone to your way of thinking if it is against his or her wishes.
Be the ExampleThe simplest and easiest way to interest others in your spirituality is often not through what you say but by the life you lead. Spirituality isn’t just the time you spend meditating, praying, or doing yoga asanas. It’s how you live your life. When your spiritual qualities radiate in your daily life, other people will want what you have and want to know how they can be like that too. Rather than having to convince someone of the benefits, now you merely have to share your practices with them.
Finally, don’t be frustrated if some people aren’t interested in your practice. You don’t have to convince everyone join you. Become a spiritual lighthouse. Silently bless the world with your Love and Light wherever you go and to whomsoever you meet. This way, whether anyone is interested in your practices or not, they won’t be able to avoid benefiting from your radiance.