Spiritual elevation should be a goal not just for a single lifetime but across all lifetimes. This is because accomplishment of spiritual enlightenment requires awakening the best self hidden in the recesses of the subconscious mind. The eternal soul will not feel satiated with accomplishment of short-term material desires. It seeks permanent, ever-fresh, and ever-increasing bliss characterized by the divine qualities of God, and its pursuit will continue until God-realization occurs. In this quest, the soul goes through 8.4 million species of life-forms as it transmigrates from one life to another. Having received a human form in this life, we need to utilize this extraordinary opportunity to fulfill the purpose of life, i.e., to achieve God-realization.
As tiny fragments of the all-pure and omniscient God, we human beings are genetically programmed to strive toward perfection to attain our goals. Whether these are professional, personal or spiritual goals, we must make the effort with dedication, perseverance, commitment, and the correct mindset for success.
An essential requirement for spiritual success is that our practice must be based on a solid foundation of true knowledge from accurate sources. True knowledge will help us to develop the faith in the fundamental divine principle – that God wants each of us to become perfect like him. He has equipped us with infinite potential for growth to achieve the highest possible level of magnificence. As our faith intensifies, so will the love for God. We have heard these inspirational words from Swami Mukundananda ji, the founder of JKYog. Swamiji discarded his rising corporate career to pursue the path of spirituality because he firmly believed that he is not the physical body made of matter, but a divine soul whose purpose of life was to serve God, our eternal relative. Such strong, resolute, and knowledge-based beliefs will guide us to choose the desired course of action to accomplish highly valued goals.
Swamiji says that most of us lack authentic knowledge to utilize our full potential necessary to achieve the ultimate purpose of life, which is God-realization. The question is, “In this day and age of easily accessible sources of information, how do we know which sources are trustworthy and will lead to spiritual growth?”
An important thing to remember is that scriptural knowledge is divine whereas our intellect is material, therefore, unable to grasp its subtleties. We identify with the body, relate sensory experiences to the body, and are attached to the body and its relatives. All these are obstacles to attachment with the Lord. When we seek material knowledge, most of us follow the ascending process which is subject to test-retest, validation and nullification.
Spiritual knowledge is complex and should be obtained through the descending process, where there is no doubt about its validity because Vedic scriptures are a creation of God, thus perfect. Self-study of the Vedas is an option but not the best one!
We have all been afflicted by self-serving needs and fallacious beliefs over infinite lifetimes, which makes it very difficult to reprogram the intellect based on our own effort. Therefore, we need guidance from a knowledgeable and caring mentor or Guru. Association with a true Guru helps us to develop attachment to God and detachment from fallible desires. The Guru’s words transform people from within because the source of knowledge is trustworthy. We should seek a Guru based on expertise, experience, availability, friendship, support, and the ability to lead by example. We need to remember Lord Krishna’s words at the start of the Mahabharat war. He told Arjun the appropriate manner in which a soul should approach a Guru.
“Learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him with reverence and render service unto him. Such an enlightened saint can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth” (Bhagavad Gita 4.34).
Swamiji’s book, 7 Divine Laws to Awaken Your Best Self, is based on the true knowledge of the Vedas. In 2018, Swamiji had introduced these Divine Laws when he had delivered the first week-long lecture series at the Radha Krishna Temple of Dallas (Allen), the Headquarter of the international non-profit organization, JKYog. In this book, Swamiji introduces these laws in a very systematic and logical sequence, which allows us to understand how each law builds upon the previous one. The evidence of true knowledge is that we will observe ourselves transforming from within as we practice the teachings in this remarkable book.
We can all gradually rise from our current state to an elevated state of spiritual consciousness. The process requires repeated practice to become proficient. By learning and mastering each step, exercising self-discipline, and making good choices, we will increasingly become capable of utilizing our infinite potential to the maximum extent possible.
Swamiji has explained in his book that if we pursue worthy goals, commit to excellence, perceive difficulties as opportunities to grow, persist beyond setbacks, and get rid of intellectual fallacies, nothing will stop us from reaching the level of perfection programmed within us. Our knowledge-based beliefs and values-based choices will guide the trajectory of our life and keep us strong in the face of obstacles.
What makes us stay strong in the face of difficulties when the willpower starts to wane? It is the “why-power.” If we become convinced of an imperative reason for which we are willing to die for, we will suddenly find hidden reserves of energy to perform herculean tasks otherwise not deemed possible.
The innate desire of the soul is to seek the bliss of God, which then becomes the purpose of life. Swamiji says that ordinary souls are unable to discriminate between true and false sources of happiness. We run after material pleasures under the illusion of finding ever-lasting happiness. Thus, our discontent continues. The 7 Divine Laws teaches us how to conquer the lower and degrading desires to achieve higher and sublime desires to attain God.
The question arises, “How do we conquer lower and degrading desires to reach spiritual elevation?” Suppressing these desires will not work! As the Bhagavad Gita suggests, suppression does not result in elimination of desires. Explained beautifully through the Ironic Effects Theory, suppression often increases the subconscious awareness resulting in the opposite effect. So, we need to redirect material desires toward spiritual aspirations. By absorbing the dirty mind in the all-pure God through devotion, it will gradually purify. The mental afflictions can be converted into strengths by dovetailing the mind into God and developing a loving relationship with Him. We must remind ourselves that only God is our eternal and selfless relative.
The sad reality of life is that we all love others and even God, for our own selfish purposes. We expect others to do what makes us happy. When things go wrong in our lives, we blame others and God as well. True love is selfless, unconditional, entails responsibility and sacrifice, and is for the pleasure of the one whom we love. Relationships in the material world rarely meet these criteria because we do not discriminate between love, lust and business. Our soul will not be satisfied unless we experience true love, and hence, our search for meaningful relationships continue. Swamiji beautifully explains that true love remains unabated even though there is a reason for it to be destroyed. So, the purpose of life is to develop selfless love for God, and serve Him with our body, mind and soul for His pleasure.
The answer is a resolute “Absolutely!” Shree Ved Vyas, a descendent of God, wrote the Vedas because he knew that the people of Kalyug would not be able to remember all the theoretical knowledge, let alone apply it effectively to make a difference in their lives. We must utilize the knowledge of the divine laws to understand how to accomplish the purpose of life. We need to hear (i.e., shravaṇ) and contemplate (i.e., manan) the knowledge repeatedly, to enable ourselves to choose the course of action based on a resolute intellect (i.e., nididhyasan). Even when we are tempted by material or sensory pleasures, we must use the willpower to resist immediate gratification (i.e., preya) in favor of delayed but divine happiness (i.e., shreya).
Each time we exercise the muscle of willpower, it will get stronger. Continuous practice will enable the body, mind and soul to connect with divine knowledge under the guidance of a true Guru. An opportunity to learn immediate application of this knowledge is to enroll in Swamiji’s 21-Day challenge on Purpose of Life, which discusses each the 7 Divine Laws. To supplement your knowledge, you can enroll in Swami Mukundananda ji’s Daily Sadhana course, where he directly and systematically guides us to internalize the knowledge and develop competence over time. You can also subscribe to Swamiji’s YouTube channel and watch the most amazing video lectures on life transformational series.