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Signs of Spiritual Progress

Gajanana Maharaj on Spiritual Progress.More from our series “Wisdom of Sri Gajanana Maharaj of Nashik”

Supposing all these things happen: you try to keep your mind pure and by continuous contemplation a feeling of detachment grows up in your mind. Still the question remains whether you, the sadhaka, can be said to have progressed. You can get a very satisfactory answer to this question.

To understand this clearly, let us take the very familiar instance of university and other examinations. There is a fixed curriculum and the question paper is the same for all candidates. We find thousands of students appearing for these examinations. All these students have completed their studies and have answered the question papers. Then why should there be the necessity of looking to the results of these examinations? All the candidates do not pass. Not only that, but several of them have to appear again and again and continue the same studies till their efforts are crowned with success. This is a matter of common experience. We see that the various candidates get marks according to their preparation and that many get failed and have to appear again.The same analogy holds good in the case of spiritual matters. Every aspirant must, with perseverance and firm faith, carry on the abhyasa (practice) until he becomes fit to be the recipient of the final experience. His progress will depend upon his practice in this life. But it goes without saying that he is sure to attain the goal sooner or later.

The next question is, “How far has the sadhaka progressed and has his aptitude for getting the ultimate experience increased or not?” There is a very easy method to find out the answer to this question. Just look back retrospectively. Consider what was the tendency of your thoughts before you began your practice, what were your defects and what were your merits then, and observe the tendency of your thoughts now. See whether your good qualities have increased and your defects have become less. If you observe these things minutely you will get an answer to the above question.

The following are some of the characteristics that accompany the stage of the realization of the final experience. Desire, hate, attachment and fondness for sensual enjoyments are conspicuously absent. A feeling of complete detachment reigns. The mind is, as it were, nullified. All disturbing waves of thought subside and the deep calm ocean of peace pervades everywhere. The real object of getting this human life is fulfilled. The real nature of “I” is thoroughly understood. The continuous practice of dhyana and japa leads to this stage. In that stage, the dhyata, dhyana and the dhyeya–the contemplator, contemplation and the object of contemplation–become one, and thereby the real object of devotion is fulfilled.

While carrying on the contemplation of Soham, an aspirant should always be carefully observing whether his worldly desires are gradually dropping off. The gradual dropping of worldly desires, and the capability to perform worldly actions solely from a sense of duty and not with a view to achieve some object, are sure signs of spiritual progress. If an aspirant makes it a point to see that his attention is continuously fixed on Soham, that his mind is growing more and more detached, and that he is continuously carrying on the practice with firm faith in the path prescribed to him by his sadguru, I am sure that he will certainly reach the goal. Whether a person is a mumukshu (aspirant), sadhaka, or a siddha (a person who has obtained siddhi or power), if all his desires have completely disappeared and he has attained a complete sense of detachment, then he attains a stage in which Pandharpur is always with him wherever he stays. There is no necessity for him to go anywhere.

As I am not educated, the words which I use may not be clear. They may express the meaning only indistinctly. But these words are the expressions of my internal intuition. The expressions used may not be polished and beautiful, but I humbly request that on that account people should not be indifferent to what I say. I have first practiced what I preach. Hence people should also translate these precepts into practice, and then see whether they are true or not. I therefore urge all people, whether ignorant or learned, mumukshus or sadhakas, to carry on the japa of Soham with their attention continuously directed towards it.

For unknown words, see A Brief Sanskrit Glossary on our website.

NOTE: Atmaprabha, from which this blogpost is taken can be found in Appendix One of our publication Soham Yoga. Other teachings of Sri Gajanana Maharaj can be found in Chapter Three of Soham Yoga.

You can also read Soham Yoga on our website here.

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