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Developing discipline for the Spiritual Life

by Michael Ketterhagen

“When we align our thoughts, speech and action,

we move towards wholeness;

we move toward health and the spiritual life.”

--Swami Rama of the Himalayas

Each one of us wants to be whole and true to ourselves in this life. We want to be free to be ourselves, yet we too often identify with what others say about us. When someone tells us we are ignorant, we take their thought-suggestion and begin to act ignorantly. When someone says that we are good and valuable because we have done certain things, we again identify with their suggestion about our character. Then, another person says that we are brilliant, and we believe them. We now have conflicting opinions about ourselves, which makes us wonder about our true character. We begin to wonder about who we really are—ignorant, good, or brilliant.

Yoga, through the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, says, that our true nature has nothing to do with the opinions of others. Those opinions come from the external world. If we really want to know who we are, we must experience ourselves internally, in the world of the Spirit. Then, we will learn our true nature, our true luminous and unchanging self, our “atman.”

When we know this whole, unchanging self, we begin to act as our whole self. Our thoughts, speech and actions flow in a united fashion. We begin living the “whole,” “holy life.” We act in the external world in accordance with our internal spiritual, true self. We live, even though it is in the concrete, physical world, from our spiritual essence.

Yoga Sutra 1:33 tells us what that essential life is all about. It is a life of friendliness, compassion, happiness, and non-judgment. It is a life without animosity, cruelty, jealously or self-righteousness. We find ourselves living in accordance with a consciousness that is Divine.

But how do we achieve that wholeness of life? How do we find that inner true self? Swami Rama says, it is found through disciplining the senses and the body. It is found by following, without question, the voice of our conscience. It is found when we bring our thoughts, speech, and action into alignment with our “buddhi.”

More on this next blog.

I pray to the Divinity within You!


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