Spiritual Evolution

Swami Kaivalyananda Saraswati

Human birth is not the highest though it is certainly the most evolved. Man is not yet a complete being. In order to develop fully he has to become aware of all his latent potential through certain spiritual practices. The human race is constantly evolving even though man does not make conscious efforts to speed his progress. But in this way it will take hundreds of thousands of years to reach the final goal. Spiritual practices aim to reduce the period of complete evolution. In the beginning the individual soul is full of errors, mistakes, shortcomings, anger, hatred and narrow-mindedness. It is the nature of every individual to make mistakes throughout life because we do not know the difference between right and wrong. We do not know what is good and what is bad, what is harmful and what is beneficial for ourselves and for others.

Sometimes we are correct in our judgement and decisions, but often we are not. Sometimes we know what is good and what is bad. We know that whatever we are going to do will not produce positive results for us or for others, but still we do it because our circumstances or perhaps our companions compel us to. A drunkard knows that drinking is not a good habit; he drinks and repents. A thief knows that stealing is not good, but still he steals and later on repents of his action. Householders, sannyasins, businessmen, scientists, philosophers, people from every walk of life, are constantly making mistakes. Because of this they are unhappy, restless, neurotic, worried and unable to sleep. They can neither think clearly nor talk frankly with their friends and kinsmen. They lose their self-confidence and are unable to work properly. As a result they suffer from innumerable mental and physical problems. Actually all physical diseases are a direct or indirect result of mental imbalance and disorder. Brooding over mistakes is not the best way to get rid of mental and physical problems. The more we think about our shortcomings, the more neurotic we become.

The world is like a stage and everyone is an actor playing different roles to suit different occasions. Every show has a director. Few actors are successful in playing their roles, most are only partly successful, and some are complete failures. Those who are unable to act according to the instructions of the director have difficulty integrating their parts with the rest of the show. Every actor has to know that the stage is full of jokes, gaiety and happiness as well as sorrow, unhappiness and discontent.

When we, as actors, are positive about life, we find happiness and hope in everything. But when we are negative then we see and feel only sorrow, unhappiness and discontentment in life. Actually, happiness and sorrow are relative terms. If a person is positive he is happy and if negative, he is unhappy. The positive person is aware of past mistakes and shortcomings. He makes every effort to improve, but he doesn't become neurotic by worrying and brooding about them. He pays attention to what he is doing in his daily routine and is always ready to correct himself.

This positive attitude can be obtained by following all the instructions of the director, the divine guru. He is the supreme soul who is unaffected by all circumstances in life. He is complete in all aspects of evolution. He has attained universal knowledge and sees everything within and without. He knows the thoughts of all. Even without telling him our problems he knows what they are. If we have faith and devotion for the guru, he will solve our problems without us asking or even discussing them with him. Those who have true faith and devotion for the guru do not suffer from any problems whether physical, mental or emotional. The moment the true disciple does something wrong he knows by intuition that he is incorrect. When the disciple has surrendered himself completely to the guru he gets inspiration for each action he performs, in every moment of his life.

Depending on their samskaras some people find it very difficult to develop faith and devotion. But in other people it already exists from the very beginning of their lives on the spiritual path. The quantity and quality of faith and devotion are deeply related to the samskaras of each individual.

Some disciples only obey those instructions from their guru which they find agreeable. When they don't like their guru's decisions, then they follow their own intellect, and so they are the losers in life.

To develop faith and devotion is really a very difficult task but it is not impossible. Love, faith and devotion grow when we work for the guru without using our gross intellect. By constantly working for the guru, one day we will have true love, faith and devotion for him. Then we will be able to serve the guru and through serving him we will serve the whole of humanity, because guru lives for all. The main duty of a disciple is to work for the guru throughout his life. He should not care for the results because when the guru is the doer everything always turns out well.