What actually is the spiritual life? Is it a life of prayer and fasting and meditation? If it is that (and it is), then what does the rest of our daily life of activity and action have to do with the important spiritual life?
Most of our culture separates the Spirit from the rest of our lives, from the rest of reality. Yoga says that ALL IS ONE! The physical and the spiritual are just two sides of the same coin, so to speak. What happens in the physical world has a corresponding happening in the spiritual world. So, too, what happens in the spiritual dimensions of reality has a corresponding happening in the physical world.
When we are at peace with ourselves and the decisions that we have made, there is peace in the world of Spirit. When we are fighting with another person or causing some animosity to occur, much like some of our political leaders do, then there is confusion and frustration and possibly irritation in our own personal lives. As the Star Wars movie says, “There is disturbance in The Force.”
My yoga teacher, Pandit Rajmani, talked about how the macrocosm is affected by the microcosm. In the early winter of 2001, when most of my family and myself were participating in the Maha Kumbha Mela in Allahabad, India, I sat at the daily fire offering and prayed for peace in my life and in the planet’s life. Pandit Rajmani later told a group of us that “during the fire offering ceremony there was one portion of the fire pit that did not become engulfed in the sacred flames of Agni. That corner of the pit was overcome with darkness.” He said that he knew then that something terrible was going to happening within the year. When the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York happened, he then knew what that disaster was. From this spiritual event of prayer and the physical manifested itself.
The same thing happens when we do something in our personal lives. It affects all of life. When we are kind to others, that kindness makes the pain decrease in our spiritual lives. That joy and peace in our spiritual life affects the spirits of all those with whom we relate and then their physical life improves.
The more we pray to our God, the more we contemplate union and peace, the more we meditate on the “stillness” within ourselves, the more the physical world moves toward “God-consciousness.” The same is true with very active physical practices--like praising people, or like using less-polluting products, or like walking and riding a bike instead of driving a fossil-fueled vehicle, or like eating healthy pesticide free food, or like planting and growing our own vegetables, or like electing positive politicians, and so on. When we act in these ways, we are involving ourselves in the peaceful, loving spiritual life.
Jesus lived the spiritual life by not fighting back when people killed him. Buddha lived the spiritual life when daily practiced non-violence. Teresa of Calcutta lived the spiritual life when she picked up dying people from the streets. We live the spiritual life whenever we act as a loving, kind, generous in any situation, whenever we say no to anger, frustration, irritation, control, etc. in our daily physical lives.
We are then living the spiritual life! The spiritual life is not just a life of stillness; it is a life of action! I am convinced that more than ever all of us need to live a very active spiritual life.