Develop your inner guidance, says NAYASWAMI ASHA PRAVER
It’s a very serious problem for the spiritual seeker — how to know if we’re being guided by God, or just being ‘guided’ by our own feelings? In the 44 years that I knew Swami Kriyananda, I hardly ever heard him say,“I feel guided to do this.”More often, he would say,“Well, it seems like a good idea.”And then he would see if the idea would prove itself. If it was true, then it would work out. For years, I never tried to develop my ‘inner guidance.’ Instead, I focused on trying to do what made the most sense. If I had a good feeling about it, fine. I said to Swami once,“People get in so much trouble when they follow their ‘guidance.’I don’t even like to talk about it.”He reprimanded me:“Asha, inner guidance is everything.” So he didn’t want to dismiss the idea that we can ask God to guide us,and that He will respond. If you want to know the right path to follow, the first thing you need to do is reclaim your destiny from the world around you.You can’t always be giving your power to others, running around doing what they say. You have to develop an inner reality of your own.So,even if you are following a lesser ‘guidance,’ it’s better to commit yourself with courage to what you believe, than to lack the nerve to do that. The next step is to commit yourself courageously while listening sensitively and receptively. In an inspiring book of Paramhansa Yogananda’s Gita commentaries that Swami Kriyananda edited, he suggests four points by which we can know if an action is right:
■ An expansion of joy
■ An expansion of inner happiness
■ An expansion of sympathy
■ A calm expansion of confidence
The third criterion of happiness is an extension of sympathy.Often, people imagine they’re growing spiritually,but they aren’t actually becoming softer and kinder,so it’s not really working. It’s not that you have to become somebody who hugs everyone. But a softening of the heart,a lessening of judgement, a realisation that the world is difficult for all is what you need. When your sympathy expands, everything changes.When you begin to look around and feel your soul expanding to include others, and feeling what they are feeling, you can’t relate to the world the same way anymore. It’s a different reality.It’s how you can tell if you’re growing spiritually — not by great yogic powers, but by becoming aware of your reality in everyone.The last thing is increasing calmness.When this comes by meditation and by the grace of the guru, the ego doesn’t get you worked up anymore. When you begin to experience that kind of calmness, you find that you are no longer dancing on the crashing waves at life’s surface, but living deeply in the ocean of Spirit.We need to ask ourselves:“ Am I developing the qualities of sympathy and calmness?” These qualities go together: calmness and sympathy.You can’t be calm if you’re shrinking your awareness,locked in your own reality and defending yourself against a hostile world.And you can’t be truly calm without having a certain all-satisfying joy.You have to have both, and then you will know that the grace of God is with you.
■ Follow Nayaswami Asha at speakingtree.in