The Simplicity of Spirituality

by | Aug 1, 2021

It is very natural that we want to be happy. Happiness begins with the fulfilment of our needs – food when hungry, water when thirsty, and sleep when tired. But it does not stop here. Once we get all this, we start seeking further comforts – a good bed to sleep, an air conditioner, and so on. Then to look unique we want a particular dress, shoes, designer bags, etc. Then, we further want to look special – entitled for another’s attention – to receive their respect, love, and obedience. And finally, we start wanting to dominate and control others. The more we try, the more we fail. The more we fail, the angrier we become. Then, we throw tantrums, and brood and sit alone in frustration! Then, a question arises. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I doing?

That is the beginning of a ‘human life’ – the life of a unique and the only known creation in Nature, endowed with the power to think, to reflect, and to imagine. This moment has been called ‘dvija,’ the second birth. You have come here to see the working of the mind, a machine inside you that is always telling you something – a voice in your head, constantly chatting with you saying … this is good, this is bad … do this … don’t do this… There are a few fortunate ones who realize that all that this voice says is not right. It leads us to problems, conflicts, and bad and difficult situations, and yet people end up following the ‘commands’ of this voice. And in case of a blessed few, there comes a realization that there is another voice behind this voice… telling us that all that is pleasant is not necessarily good. When you are clearly able to hear this second voice, you have taken your first step into the spiritual world.

Can I hear this ‘observer voice’ more often? Do more of what it wants me to do? 

The answer is ‘Of course! Why not?’

‘What do I have to do for that?’ is the next question.

The answer is to ‘log in’. That’s it!

The idea of the Oneness of the entire creation is indeed universal. Everything exists in God and therefore God is both immanent and transcendent. But, if I live in God, and God is inside me, why am I confused, perturbed, and doing my best, yet not even at peace with myself? This is a doubt that must be put to rest not by some teaching but by experience, by getting connected to the God inside one and feeling firsthand what it means and to what wonderful effect. 

Based on Vedanta insights, the seminal works of Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (1875-1961), Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), and the monk of the Ramakrishna Order, Swami Prabhavananda (1893-1976), and the writings of Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) and Eknath Easwaran (1910-1999), there is a ‘doable’ method to connect to the God inside us and draw from the eternal source of ‘our being’ – all that is needed to be good and become great.   

There is nothing religious about it. Buddha taught us about transforming the mind. In the Islamic world, silent contemplation – ‘Muraqiba’ – is widely practiced and very well-defined. There has been a great tradition of Christian mystics right from the days of the Roman empire adopting Christianity. 

There are just three simple steps. First, draw your attention ‘inside you’ by withdrawing it from outside. Sit alone, undisturbed, and close your eyes. You will feel terrible resistance. It is so difficult to have our eyes closed… even for a minute! Something inside tells you not to do that … get out … go back to the world! This is the hypnotic power of the world over you – the Maya. You are captivated to live like a puppet – a part of the machinery – serving your family, your company, the economy, the social and political system… and so on! This is indeed proof that you are in real trouble!

As the second step, standing up to this problem, take control of your ‘monkey mind’ that is forever jumping around. Memorize a simple passage of your liking in the language that you understand – your mother tongue, ideally, or even English. (I use St Francis’s prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace …) Remain focused on that passage with your eyes closed and you will feel less threatened… and with very little practice, you are now able to remain ‘within’ yourself for a few minutes… Now extend this time to 30 minutes. That is enough.

Just this… nothing more and your mind loses its ‘captive power’ and you are now ‘online’. Enjoy this simple feeling of ‘being with yourself’; say nothing, tell no one about it. Don’t even intellectualize it… just experience the connection!

Lastly, select one mantra – a short and simple one – whatever appeals to you. And whenever during the day you notice your mind becoming restless, trying to hijack you ‘away from here and now’ into some past memory, future worry or fantasy… engage it to this mantra. That is all. Your podding stops here. You will see the beneficial results for yourself. 

Know that there are the larger systems that increasingly control the world and the lives of people. The only defence is ‘going inside’ and connecting to the Absolute Consciousness that is the ground upon which this entire creation is built. There are many methods and people have done it, but for an ordinary person, living in this world, my idea is not to abandon the world and merge with the identity-less Oneness but to be aware of what is going on. By doing so, I can have a little peace, a little confidence, that in the end, everything is going to be all right.

Using this, a great many enterprises are operational, ‘selling’ spirituality. Unlike other ‘commodities’ and ‘services’ there is no direct price, but blind following and servitude is charged as price. People have gone for them always and they continue to do so now. Names and forms have changed. Religion has been mutated into cults and sects and off late, a Technology Singularity has become active to capture your attention and control your mind using the Internet provided into your hands ‘at no cost.’

I consider this as the biggest evolutionary challenge that mankind has ever faced. There are thoughtful people talking about it already. A book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari (b. 1976), discusses what might happen to the world when old myths are coupled with new godlike technologies such as artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. So, getting grounded in the Absolute Consciousness, that is present right inside you, is now even more important. 

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31 Comments

  1. Dear Sir, Thank you for an excellent blog on Spirituality and inner peace. For a layman like me it is “MEDITATION MADE SIMPLE”. As you have rightly brought out to keep the eyes closed and do nothing is the most difficult task. But unless we do that we cannot find peace and we will not be at peace with ourselves. Majority of the trainers of meditation suggest chanting some mantra to control the monkey called mind. Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev suggests Maha Mritunjaya Mantra for meditation and to keep the mind controlled. As you rightly suggested, each individual has his own method of channelising the mind and controlling it.

    Unless we are at peace with ourselves, we cannot be at peace with others. The day we stop comparing ourselves with others , that will be the beginning of “looking inside”. The more we look into inside the more we will experience the inner happiness. Some I still believe that this education should start at the early age. The parents should first stop their children with others they also should stop comparing two of their own children and stop showing bias for one against the other.

    I am reminded of my visit to my friends house in Netherland, his ten year old , while speaking about his love for football , he told me ” You know uncle, I have played more than 10 matches but we have not won even one match” . What I liked about that boy he was not feeling ashamed or humiliated by his defeat. Because the coach analyzed each match and told them how they can improve and how the other team was better on that day.

    Best way to achieve inner peace is to look inside and log into inner machine. Thank you for an educating blog sir.

  2. You have brilliantly put forward the mechanism to ‘log in’ the ‘machine’ inside the human being and experience the ‘connection’ Prof Tiwariji !

    Your way of explaining the ‘Simplicity of Spirituality’ with a ‘doable’ method of getting grounded in the Absolute Consciousness is Superb !!

  3. Give Happiness and Be Happy.
    With respect !

  4. Dear Arun, Your latest blog-‘The simplicity of Spirituality’ focuses on the simple techniques- how one can ‘log in’ and be with himself/herself. By doing ‘Upasana’, we try to be with God and try to withdraw our attention from the outer world. You have given few tips to control the ‘monkey mind’, which looks easy, will try to follow.

    Your blog will certainly be a guide for spiritual seekers. I know you are a reservoir of knowledge-continue to give it out. Wish you all the best.

  5. Wonderful blog Sir. It reminds me. Swami Vivekananda’s words that we must grow from the inside out. None can teach us; none can make us spiritual. There is no other teacher but our own soul. I loved your lines, “Know that there are the larger systems that increasingly control the world and the lives of people. The only defence is ‘going inside’ and connecting to the Absolute Consciousness that is the ground upon which this entire creation is built.” Thank you for showing us the way.

  6. Dear Prof. Tiwari, Simplicity itself is spirituality. Simplicity plus honesty, integrity, compassion, and commitment makes the full package of spirituality. One does not need to go to the Himalayas in search of spirituality. It resides inside you. Peep inside, explore and practice the virtues listed above to realize the benefits of inner beauty and attain spirituality. If one is pure, the inner voice (God) will guide him/her and show the right path to attain the highest in life. Warm regards.

  7. Thank you, Sir, for this most useful blog. I am indeed inspired to sit for meditation. Meditation is indeed a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. We can lead our life to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. As Dr Mpoki puts in most correctly – The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

  8. Very useful insights Sir! Having a sense of connection to something beyond, higher, bigger than our little egoic selves sounds most sensible. You don’t even have to believe in a higher power, it can be indeed felt right away. This way we can experience our connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.

    It is indeed true that each one of us has a spiritual nature—just as we all have an intellectual, emotional, and will nature. To experience our connection with spirit is a universal human need—something that touches us all. It’s about our own relationship to the highest reality in the universe, and to your own bliss-nature. Thank you, Sir.

  9. We all look for happiness which is always measured by your wants at different times. I believe we have to understand how to be content with what we have and look forward more to giving back to the Society in whatever way we can to realize the feeling of “being content and happy”. Spirituality is one way by which we can help ourselves in keeping ourselves grounded and understand the difference between materialistic desires which gives us happiness in short spells but increases the spell of dissatisfaction more when we do not get what we want, and contentment.

    This essentially does not mean we live like a saint, but understand that by keeping things simple in life and being aware of the fact that if we have all that we need, then we start feeling grateful and try to maintain living in that space for as long as we can. Being self-obsessed and consumed is what is causing a lot of dissatisfaction as they tend to increase one’s expectations from life in general, and rob you of the felling of sensitivity and accountability of your role as a human being.

  10. This blog is all about what is missing in todays world. We all try to have inner peace and calmness of mind, although in this fast paced world its difficult to achieve.

    After reading your blog, I must say, I have to bring some changes in my life for sure in order to connect with spirituality. Thank you for nice thought provoking article every time.

  11. Respected Sir, I took some time to write my comment as I was reflecting on my own life journey. Like a lot of us, I too have found traditional religion tricky to stomach and I felt tired of dogma of different shades. Spirituality is not sitting for hours chanting crossed legs in meditation. It is certainly not about wearing flowing robes and growing a long beard. It is about attendance at a specific place of worship or adherence to a religious rule book. All of those things may be useful to many people seeking enlightenment and peace, but they are not the ways to have an active spiritual life as you pointed out very forcefully in this blog.

    The spiritual path is broad and welcomes whoever has enough humility and brokenness to know they need it. So, a spiritual practice to me is about something regularly cobbled together that reminds me there’s more to life than my narrow perspective of it. Every person’s spiritual practice is as unique and ordinary as that person. So, it can involve taking a walk alone, reading something inspiring in my back garden, taking a nap, prayer, self-inquiry, or simply focusing on my breathing for a few minutes. Focusing on each breath brings me out of my racing mind and into the moment, which is probably the whole point of any spiritual practice. Keep writing such blogs.

  12. Thank you, Sir, for this beautiful article. No knowledge is complete till it comes to fruition through action. Likewise, spiritual discourse can also, rather only transform us if we follow the teachings of our Masters in our life. Selfless Service and Mindful Remembrance of almighty God is indeed practical spirituality. I am going to follow the meditation part as you have suggested.

  13. Generally, that is what it happens. We look for a thing when it is in the mouth. We are not tuned to listen to our inner voice, nor we are trained. Neither our education system, nor our society and for that matter even in our home, there is no culture or intent or the conscious effort to make us to realise the importance of our inner voice.

    A few enlightened souls understood this important feature and tried to spread the message in the society. Again the effective percolation mechanism of those messages over the period of time and generations took a back seat. If each one of us listen to our inner voices, the planet earth would be a different world. Thanks prof Tiwari Ji for such a thoughtful Blog.

  14. It took several days since I read the blog to practice the three simple steps to stop the mind. It works for a few minutes, and I would like to extend the period a little more. So, I make it out, there are two types of seeds in the mind: those that create anger, fear, frustration, jealousy, hatred, and those that create love, compassion, equanimity, and joy. By putting the mind in a loop and thereby stopping it in effect, we can allow our immortal self to burn the bad types and thereby create more space for the good type. Good deal!

  15. Perhaps it is unintentional, but you have defined a major difference between East and West. In the United States we live in the moment, seeking and striving for what William James called “the bitch goddess SUCCESS.” And such success has been achieved, but at a price, a massive inequality in wealth. We have an achievement oriented culture.

    In the East, including India, there is more emphasis on meditation and looking inwards, as you have suggested, and indeed recommended. But carried to excess that leads to passivity and watching the world pass you by. While self-awareness is a good thing, the better thing is to be a doer, always striving and achieving. Excessive navel-gazing leads to excessive poverty.

  16. Thank you for this simple, inspirational blog, Prof Tiwari. As larger systems take over our lives – which undoubtedly will be accompanied by chaos of various kinds – we’ll need to find escape routes. Our inner sanctum can be a readily available refuge, if we just know how to access it.

    Thank you for the simple methods you have suggested. Indeed, you are so right – most of us are not looking for Moksha or merger with the Truth, but just some peace and confidence in the here and now.

  17. Inner serenity is the most desired but hardest to attain. Thank you for bringing up such an important topic in these testing times when our minds are always agitated.

  18. To be happy and contended…… is a million dollar question. If one is able to attain this ….. believe me life would be nothing short of being immortal.

    Your questions Who am I ? Why am I here ? What am I doing Arun ji, is rightly inviting one to peep inside one’s window of mind. Open the window, let the beam of light track its path, let one clearly see the particles of life floating in the beam and decide the next course of action. The earlier one dusts off to get a vivid uninterrupted crystal clear light the better for life ahead. Easy said than done, had it been so simple for humans, life on this planet would be nothing short of a jing – a – la – la.

    As stressed and highlighted by you – desires are endless. One has a cycle he yearns for a scooter, he gets a scooter he dreams of a car, he graduates to a car and then desires a fleet of cars ……and so on. It is endless. Rightly highlighted on several forums…. More wealthy a person, more the chances of his being unhappy, under stress and under pressure. Happier is a labour who has nothing to lose. It is all in the mind. Positive that I am, Contentment is the word that needs to be absorbed both in mind and in spirit. If one is contended…..one is sure to be happy. He who is satisfied is happy with a clutter free mind with no desires and temptations. Simple living high thinking.

    The three steps highlighted by you to control one’s mind body and soul is an exercise, a path directing us to tread and to attain the ultimate satisfaction and contentment. Conquer step No.1 to conquer desire and be out of trouble. Step No.2 is to control your wavering mind and final Step No.3 is to engage in solitude. This if done and managed is enlightenment.

    So the best suggestion for an individual is to manage in whatever circumstances and in whatsoever ways one is comfortable with, just go in for your own soul searching. No compulsions no fixed path or agenda no baggage attached just soul search and be your own Buddha. Attain your own enlightenment your own Nirvana. Happiness, contentment and satisfaction to lead a glorious life is in your own hands.

  19. Finding our calling, vocation, and life’s work are about discovering our identity. It’s about living into a deeper expression of who we are as a human.

    Our self-identity is also a collection of our faith, our relationship with the present moment, if we are in resistance or in alignment to be good and do good. However, religions and faiths are here to transform people into peacemakers so that life is simple, meaningful and enjoyable.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”.

  20. Once again Prof Tiwari you have written an excellent blog that exercises the readers’ minds. Our world is indeed getting more complex. How does one find peace when folks like Elon Musk suggest we are all living in a simulation of ultra-high resolution and big tech companies continually bombard us with messages to influence our thoughts and behavior? Your three step process of meditation and prayer is a good recipe which I must try. Thank you. And I do agree mankind faces a huge challenge. We must all have faith that with God’s grace everything will be ok and with a meaning.

  21. Dear Sir, This is the spiritual life and how happiness in life can be achieved, which exists forever even after you. The sole purpose of existence.

    May I share the story of Indian woman’s Hockey team captain Rani Rampal… an indomitable spirit!

    “I wanted an escape from my life; from the electricity shortages, to the mosquitoes buzzing in our ear when we slept, from barely having two square meals to seeing our home getting flooded when it rained. My parents tried their best, but there was only so much they could do–Papa was a cart puller and Maa worked as a maid. There was a hockey academy near my home, so I’d spend hours watching players practice–I really wanted to play. Papa would earn Rs.80 a day and couldn’t afford to buy me a stick. Everyday, I’d ask the coach to teach me too. He’d reject me because I was malnourished. He’d say, ‘You aren’t strong enough to pull through a practice session.’ So, I found a broken hockey stick on the field and began practicing with that– I didn’t have training clothes, so I was running around in a salwar kameez. But I was determined to prove myself. I begged the coach for a chance– maine bahut mushkil se convince kiya unko finally!

    At the academy, it was mandatory for each player to bring 500 ml of milk. My family could only afford milk worth 200 ml; without telling anyone, I’d mix the milk with water and drink it because I wanted to play. My coach supported me through thick and thin; he’d buy me hockey kits and shoes. He even allowed me to live with his family and took care of my dietary needs. I’d train hard and wouldn’t miss a single day of practice.

    After representing my state and playing in several championships, I finally got a national call up at the age of 15! Still, my relatives would only ask me when I was planning on getting married. But Papa told me, ‘Play until your heart’s content.’ With my family’s support, I focused on doing my best for India and eventually, I became captain of the Indian hockey team! And then in 2017, I finally fulfilled the promise I made to my family and bought them a home. We cried together and held each other tightly! And I’m not done yet; this year, I’m determined to repay them and Coach with something they’ve always dreamed of– a gold medal from Tokyo.”

    Just see how hard people work to succeed and achieve happiness in life. Warm Regards

  22. Inner peace, the most sought after yet most difficult to achieve. After reading your article I would love to try the technique mentioned by you and meditate in a more fruitful manner. Thank you for such a pertinent topic in these days where our mind is in a state of constant consternation.

  23. Ah Solitude – the bliss ultimate ….it lies within us

  24. We have entered into a very challenging phase of the journey of the human race. On one hand, planetary resources for supporting human life are under severe stress. On the other hand, there are challenges to economic well-being, social justice, and progress. These challenges present a rather grim picture of human existence.

    Happily, there is a brighter side too. Now there are new technologies and institutional mechanisms for improving the quality of human life on earth.

    Thus the contemporary journey of the human race is full of complexities. Our spirituality can serve as a sheet anchor as well as a guiding light for navigating through these complexities. Thank you.

  25. Hari Om Arun Tiwariji, Truth and simplicity are very visible in this article on spirituality. It is a very nice article Sir. The workings of the human mind that is bound to nature and goes through the same cycle of happiness and sorrow until it begins its quest to find its true purpose.

    “So, getting grounded in the Absolute Consciousness, that is present right inside you, is now even more important.” Is a lesson for all.. Everyone ultimately moves on the same path no matter where they dwell on earth but the rate of the journey is governed by the sincerity of their pursuit.

    Hare Krihsna

  26. Thank you sir for writing on yet another captivating issue. The beauty of your blog is that by the time you read the full text, you come to realise that what is written is needed most. That makes you read it again and again and brings more distinct perspectives. This biggest evolutionary challenge threatens human existence. The solution “getting grounded in the Absolute Consciousness” requires transformational spiritual and ethical education.

  27. Great and wonderful write up Professor Arun Tiwari Sir. I am amazed by your thinking and putting events and feelings step by step, sequence by sequence , point by point and stage by stage the transformations felt and realized by the person going through the training. While reading this blog many a times I lost my worldly presence. You are really blessed very closely by the eternal power whom we call GOD ईश्वर, ईश्वरीय अनुकम्पा की बारिश। The sowering of GODs blessings upon you.
    Really this blog has raised your level near GODly realization and by your writing, you have made us (the blessed readers) go little closer to that.
    Kindly keep us enlightening like this.

  28. The article you have penned Prof Tiwari, reminds me of what the Psalmist was inspired to write in the 46 chapter of the Holy Bible:
    8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
    9 He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
    He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
    10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
    11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

  29. Sir, Thank you for a delightful blog. It has come as a fresh breeze. After reading the blog I have decided to: 1. Be careful with my Word and speak with integrity. 2. Not to take anything personally. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. 3. Don’t Not to make assumptions. Will talk to others as clearly as I can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. And of course, 4. Do my best under my circumstances. Thank you.

  30. Beautiful piece on spirituality! And how amazing it is that across all cultures and civilizations, spirituality a cross-cutting phenomenon.

    In my lay-man theology, I would equate spirituality is that inner connectedness to the spiritual being of oneself (one’s soul) and beyond, sometimes called the Supreme Being. In my 62 years, I find inner peace when I connect to both of these.

    Thank you Arun for you inspirations. Stay strong and blessed!

  31. The 360 degree consciousness and unison with stillness of inner calm is the key to peace within.

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