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Measuring Spiritual Growth

Measuring Spiritual Growth



Shakespeare echoed the central theme of the Upanishads when he said in ‘As You Like It’ – “All the world’s a stage, / And all men and women merely players; / They have their exits and their entrances…”. Vedanta speaks of sakshi bhava or ‘witness attitude’ as a measure of spiritual growth. Objectivity is the key to material success, happiness as well as growth to one’s potential. Maintain the attitude of an observer, never getting entangled. Be impartial in all circumstances, non-partisan; unbiased, unprejudiced. Be like a spectator in a boxing match. If you jump into the ring you could get beaten up by both parties.

You are an actor in the drama of life. Play your role wholeheartedly, dispassionately, perfectly and exit gracefully when the time comes. Don’t get entangled in a make-believe world.

Atman, the spirit, is completely objective. It enables all your activities but has nothing to do with their functioning. Just as fuel propels all cars to move but does not determine their performance. Electricity is the same in all gadgets but is not responsible for manifestations.

At Kurukshetra, Arjuna is overwhelmed by emotion. Grief-stricken, he refuses to perform his duty. He asks Krishna, his friend and mentor, for help. Krishna’s opening remarks in the Bhagwad Gita are,“The wise do not grieve either for the living or the dead. All grief is because of wrong identification and attachment”. You believe that the cause of your misery is out there in the world. You blame the spouse, kids, the government and even the weather for your unhappiness. As long as you believe the world is causing you sorrow, there will never be a solution to your problems.




You are responsible for your sorrow. As long as you identify with the body, mind and intellect, you will be unhappy. These instruments are matter as world is also matter. Matter affects matter, just as magnet attracts iron. You are neither body, mind nor intellect; you are spirit. The world does not have the power to affect the spirit but you think it does because of your involvement with body, mind and intellect. Just remember you are atman and interact with body, mind and intellect. Then you will remain a sakshi, witness, of everything but never get involved.

You go through three states of consciousness – waking, dream and deep sleep – all projections of your mind. The real you is Atman, the fourth state. Live life as if you are re-entering a dream, knowing its illusory nature, tongue-in-cheek, objectively, joyfully. Do what you have to do, without involvement, entanglement or heartburn.

Objectivity is the secret of enjoyment. You are able to enjoy a tragic movie because you know you are not a part of it. Had you been even remotely connected with the happenings in the movie you would suffer. Practise objectivity by observing the world around you. Observe external objects, people around you, their appearance, emotions, and thoughts. Then shift your attention to your own body, mind and intellect. You will be in an oasis of peace and ttranquilityin the midst of turbulence around.

The mind is the realm of emotions and feelings; the intellect is of reason, discrimination and judgement. The mind is involved, attached and partisan. The intellect is capable of remaining objective, unbiased and unprejudiced. Use your intellect, strengthen it so you are objective in all situations. From such an impersonal viewpoint, you will find life entertaining.

~ Jaya Row

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