Growing in Love: A Manual for the Aspiring Soul. Saturday’s Inspiration 29, to Umesh Chandra Bhatt
Qualities of the Devotee
Growing in Love requires prayers and meditations; regularity and discipline … earnestness and sacrifice. I will put forward a manual of spiritual practices (Sadhana), in order to better facilitate, the inner journey of the aspiring seeker.
Faith: from time immemorial, man has always been asking for proof. This is not new. The deer grows musk in its own body, yet it runs around searching for a smell, until it finally dies, not knowing that the smell that it was searching for, was actually in its own body. God is Spirit and we must find it in Spirit and in Truth.
If I wish to swim, I must enter the water. You can give me googles and pull-buoys, flotillas and so forth, but if I do not like or am afraid of water, I will not be able to swim. So too, like the bubble entering the mighty Ocean, man must enter within the vast Ocean of Consciousness, to commune in Love.
Prayers and Meditations: True prayer is a flowering of the soul and as such, worship. Yet again, it is only a part of spiritual practices: singing, reading of scriptures, vocal and silent reflections, videos, chants and supplications and more. The Islamic word for worship is Ibadah.
Ibadah is the sum total of all we are and all we do, consciously or unconsciously, in obedience or surrender to the Will of the Supreme. Christ said it best: “May Thy Will be done in and through me.”, or “Let Thy Will be done.” So, I wake in the morning, offering gratitude to the Universe. I could have easily died, or be like one of the starving children in impoverished places, but Love has chosen to grant me the boon of another day.
I wash my face and perform supplications for the Love of Something Higher. I hug my wife and kiss my children for the sake of the inner Light. I go out of the house and interact with trees, animals and humans for the Love of Allah, then I get into my car and go to work for this same Love. That is Ibadah or worship, a recognition or conscious awareness of the Love in all and for all … a surrender to the Will of the Highest, running in and through Creation.
Modes of Prayer
- It is good to mix the modes of prayer: singing of devotional songs, scriptural readings done by you or even taken from the internet, this can also enhance prayer. Aphorisms, especially from the Psalms or Beatitudes are beautiful, but if you are not of the Christian Faith, then sutras and slokas from the Gita or Buddhist chants are great as well as Zhikr or Salat.
Some stories with morals, videos and plays, as well as both vocal and silent prayer, at least half an hour, is useful. Gentle breathing and an enhancement of the power of concentration or focus, are great aids in the beginning. I shall put some guidelines at the end.
Do not find fault with others: it is better to clean our own mirrors, than to look for someone else’s mirror to clean. If we perceive a beautiful world, it is because we ourselves are beautiful. If we perceive a world full of imperfections, then we need to do some inner work. We will initially stumble, but this is a part of life and true failure is only when we give up. Never give up!
Selfless Service: Always bear in mind that you are a spark of light, as is the next person. Everyone we meet are the Self and as such our neighbours. Truly speaking, we do not help anyone but ourselves. If I am God and you are God, then who is helping whom? Again, helping brings with it a feeling of superiority and inferiority; a sense of false pride in what we are doing for the world. Only God can help … only the Supreme is indispensable. We can only serve.
Again, the very nature of service, is as an outpouring of the Heart to others, in a spirit of soulful offering. There’s no bargaining in the Hearts offerings, as it comes directly from Love. Some days I sing, sing and just keep singing. My Heart feels so full and so beautiful! Prayer works and this brings me to the next recommendation.
Punctuality and regularity of Salat (Prayer): you may also increase the duration according to receptivity, but daily sadhana is crucial. Some do a day or a week or two weeks, then start again when things are bad. Let’s cut this short. I have sat in prayer and meditation daily, without fail, for 38 years! Try it for just three months, day after day and you will fall in Love with it.
Receptivity: this is the inflow and outflow of Grace. Grace is always here and like sunshine. If we keep our curtains closed, then it cannot enter. Our service to man, our prayers and meditations, our gratitude and love, gradually opens the curtains. Hurt no living creature intentionally; what ever you do, must be with a pure motive. Purity of intent; sincerity of purpose is the key. Enough for today, now let me give you some guidelines:
How to pray: God is omnipresent and when you pray, you are invoking God. Prayer, in a sense, is an attempt to lay hold of God Itself and the urge or call to prayer (Azaan, or namaz), comes from Allah (God) Itself. The Mother is literally inside you, not separate.
Mother Theresa, Sri Chinmoy and her Sisters of Charity
Setting up for Prayer
- Build a shrine/alter/puja in a quiet spot at home. A table or chair with cloth, candles, pictures of your deity or God and burn incense to purify the spot with good vibrations.
- Sit on a comfortable chair with your eyes open and entire body relaxed. Do not force the eyes
- Focus on the candle or picture of your deity or God (Ishta Devata). Concentration is the ability to focus one’s attention on a particular spot, to the exclusion of everything else. This slowly harnesses energy, which will come to the fore to assist with silencing the mind in due course.
- Keep up the practice of breathing and focus, singing, praying or whatever feels good at the time. The Lord’s Prayer is an awesome Invocation, but the best invocation is what comes directly from the Heart.
- Remember to reflect in silence. When we pray, we are talking to God, when we are silent, we are listening to God speak. Learn to calm the mind first (Don’t fight it, just watch), then the inner stillness will flow.
- Eat at least two hours before prayer and be still or silent for a few minutes afterwards. This helps with assimilation of the experience. Prayer is most effective when nature is calm and as such she helps us. Morning and evening are good for beginners. Let prayer be the first thing you do when you wake up.
Finally, do not worry about current life, neither should you live in the past or future. They are both dead elephants. Be in the Eternal Now. Man has been troubled for centuries! You are all wise enough to know that nothing is new.
Didn’t we complain in the old Testament, with the Romans and down the sweep of centuries? Stalin came and went as did Hitler and Usaama. I’m saying that the problem is not outside us, but within: Doubt, hate, jealousy, greed, attachments, passion, ego … to name just a few.
Prayer is the process of transformation of our lower nature to a Higher nature, so that we – as Spirit beings – can know our true Self. Much Love and God speed! – Manatita, The Lantern Carrier. 23rd May, 2020
Equal Before Love
I stand as one transfixed, my breath the Breath
Of breaths, in the redolence of jasmines. Yet here
In this garden of the meadow of Love, I am also conscious
Of the sacrifice of the rose; of its radiance and allure.
Everyone and everything, contributes to Mother Earth.
When the cold chill of winter stabs my bones, the purity
Of the snowflakes lifts my mood; even as the shadow pervades
Night, so too, the rays of the moon descends from heaven.
Baldwin and Isherwood were both gay writers. One became
Known for his fine writing; the other brought souls to Paradise.
When Love abides in the Heart, everyone is a rich storehouse
Of experiences. There the Light manifests and none becomes unwanted.
In the Kingdom of the Emperor, there are
No distinctions: No caste, no creed, no race … no mental
Labels. There the Beloved closes the door to the
Proud and judgmental, but opens it, to the fragrance of each Soul.
Manatita, The Lantern Carrier. 19th May, 2020
Lockdown and its effect
What best expresses yours?
© 2020 manatita44