How to Practice Spirituality in a Materialistic World?

Spiritual Practice

by Jayaram V

How can you sustain your spirituality in a world of distractions and keep your mind engaged in it? How can you experience peace and stability when you are dealing with people and the world outside? In the early stages it is common for many spiritual people to vacillate between their spiritual and materialistic goals. For them it is a huge challenge to remain rooted in their essential spirituality both at home and outside. Essential spirituality means being aware of your spiritual identity that you are an eternal soul and remain centered in it.

Such an awareness does not arise in everyone. Only in a few rare cases does your spirituality arises naturally due to prior preparation in your past lives. For the rest it is a struggle. Even if they read about it in the scriptures, they may not believe in it or take it seriously. They may worship God at home or in temples, but their religiosity (devotion to God) does not transform into spirituality (the belief in the Self). When they engage with the world, it is for the limited purpose of securing their lives or satisfying their desires. If you want to turn to spirituality and becomes stabilized in the thoughts of the Self, you must carefully nurture the attitude through sustained practice. In this regard the following suggestions are helpful.

Remember that you are an eternal Self

Our fixation with our bodies is much deeper than we really think. Whether you are aware of it or not, consciously and subconsciously you identify with your mind and body rather than your Self. You cannot totally ignore it, because it is the only way by which you can relate to the world and engage with it. However, for your own peace of mind, you have to remember who you truly are and become stabilized in your spiritual identity. You do not have to declare it to the world, but you should be aware of it and make it an integral part of your consciousness. It is first step to spiritual transformation. Keep remembering it as you go about your daily routine to pull back from your deep attachments and involvement. You should extend the same thinking to others and deal with them accordingly with compassion and understanding.

Think of death

Remembering that you are a mortal being with a limited lifespan will teach you the value of life and the need to use it for the highest ends. People waste their lives, as if Time does not matter, and as if they live forever. We do not think of death often because we are life oriented. The longing for life or the urge to live is very strong in us. It is what makes us overlook death or live in denial. However, it is important to remember your mortality and that you are not going to live here forever. It makes you realize what is important to your life and where you should focus your attention and energies. Contemplation upon death is encouraged in many renunciant traditions to make you realize the value of life and the need for compassion, detachment, and renunciation, and to develop distaste for life.

Remember the illusory nature of the world

Know how to be part of the world without becoming too involved with it. The world is meant to distract you and keep you occupied with your illusions so that you will not have time to think about yourself or your true purpose. It is not that you will deal with the world when you leave your home and when you go outside. You are part of the world and the world is part of you. Therefore, there is no time when you are not interacting with it. It leaves strong impressions in your mind, and each impression creates a samskara (a latent impression) which can influence your future births. It means that if you want to stay free from its negative influence, you have to begin it in your mind and extend it outwardly into other aspects of your relationship with it. In your interaction with the world you have to remember the following, you cannot own it, you cannot take it with you, and you cannot let it control you.

Remember the impermanence of the world

There is nothing permanent about this life nor about you, except the Self, which is untouched by any of it. You can neither cling to things forever nor control them forever. Yet, you may not remember It as go on about your life normally to establish yourself and create your comfort zone. If you are a negative person, impermanence can make you feel anxious and insecure, but if you are an optimist, it will give you a reason to hope for better things to come. Becoming aware of the impermanence of the world around you is an important part of your spiritual training to cultivate right perception, right thinking, and right awareness. As you discern impermanence in the world around you, you will realize the importance of detachment and not to go about your life seriously. It is the nature of life to flow and you are better of flowing with it rather than becoming stuck in the sands.

Develop a seer vision or soul vision

If you think you are a mere physical being, you will have a very limited perspective of yourself and your life. It is important in spiritual life to think like an eternal being and see your existence on the scale of eternity. Then, many problems that bother you will stop hurting you and you will have courage and confidence to face your fears and challenges. You will also transcend your attachment to numerous identities which you create in your life and become centered in your identity as an eternal Self. As you think, so you become. If you think that you are an eternal Self, you will think and act like one and manifest its purity, vision, and purpose in your life.

There are many other ways to draw your mind to spirituality and remain centered in it. The practice of yoga, studying scriptures and spiritual texts, friendship with spiritual people, devotional practices such as prayers and japa, charity and service to others, mindfulness practice, deeper reflection on the happenings in your life, and the practice of silence are a few important effective ways for householders and worldly people to draw their minds to spirituality and strengthen their spiritual identities.

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