What Practice Should One Follow To Progress In Spiritual Life?

Sushi: Is it true that once you practice one style of meditation you should stick to it? I do experience the silence you mention, but I don’t know why I don’t dissolve into it. I don’t let myself get lost.

I keep watching my breath or other parts, especially my head where pressure builds up. I experience an energy in me rise up and float down after seconds, but I keep my attention on my breath as I have read not to forget awareness as the essence.

I understand there are different practices and perhaps nothing is right or wrong, except that one shouldn’t cling to the fruit of any effort, including the effort that one puts in creating a regular practice. Am I wrong?

Please also let me know how to conduct oneself in daily life so as to progress in spiritual life. What we deal with in daily life could be stepping stones to a better understanding of ourselves, but it could also be like a whirlpool, sometimes dragging us down to square one.

Jagjot: I think you should practice whatever style you naturally adapt to. And relaxation is the key here. For many years, I did Vipassana, as watching the movement of breath was natural for me. I don’t do it anymore. I meditate only for 5 to 10 minutes, and only twice a week.

I wrote that book on meditation long back, and a lot of it is prescriptive, but it is not from the point of view of self-realization.While all practices are beneficial, I do not claim that any method or practice can lead to self-realization.

Self-realization is not about adding anything but subtracting the layers of conditioning. While listening to a realized soul once, he said, “you’re not the doer.” These words and the way he spoke them, destroyed everything. I had listened to those words many times before, but this time they sunk deep. It was an instantaneous awakening.

At that very instant, my identifications began dissolving. No wonder our traditional method of teaching was shravana (listening to oration).After that, there was no need for anything teaching or practice. When the personal identifications dissolve, who is there to seek, and what?

Nisargadatta Maharaj said that forget about finding the truth, find what you’re not and you’ll arrive at the truth. I believe that is the best path for any spiritual seeker. Because if you start imagining self-realization, your mind will create an image for you to cling to. That is one of the worst pitfalls as it can lead to spiritual ego, which is one of the worst forms of the ego.

The problem is past conditioning which runs deep within our psyche. We have been given concepts after concepts. Read Vedas. Read Upanishads. Read Gita. Every spiritual organization has its own methods and techniques. Every religion is full of dogmas. None of it helps. In fact, it brings about great suffering as your mind experiences cognitive dissonance. 

We try to imbibe modern values while sticking to our traditional values. That creates confusion. When children innocently question tradition, they are silenced. Mind is a hypocrite. It does not want what it claims, and it does not claim what it really wants. And this is something to be witnessed.

That is precisely the reason why we get dragged down back to square one. We’re too fixated on teachings, methods, and prescriptions. Any meditation will calm your mind temporarily. The mind gets to know that you practice meditation at a fixed time every day, and therefore, it creates an illusion of calm for that specified time period.

But the moment you go about your daily routine, the conditioning is back and the agitation returns. Whatever you do is a story that the mind tells itself. I did this or that, and so, I should be at peace. Peace, however, is realizing that you’re not the mind. I’m not implying that you shouldn’t do anything. No. Practice any method or teaching that brings peace and takes you closer to yourself.

It doesn’t matter how you conduct yourself because there’s no “you.” Don’t get too caught up in all that. You see, Sushi, you are free. You’ve always been free. And what’s happening around you is simply a story in your mind. Do what you feel like because you’re not the doer. There’s no one here. It’s your story, but it’s just a story. You’re the writer, you’re not the story.