By Life Positive January 1996One question that often arises while you are on the path of spiritual growth is: 'Am I really progressing or am I just fooling myself?' Another question that may trouble you: 'Is this the right path for me?' How do you judge? Many of us embark on different paths in search of elevating, extraordinary or psychedelic experiences, which we hope will resolve pressing issues in our day-to-day lives, magically, as it were. We then feel disappointed and let down when this does not subsequently happen. The truth is that real growth only takes place when we are able to experience our lives through our heart centers, and in turn touch the lives of others. Your heart chakra opens only when you move from thinking about compassion, love and kindness to being compassionate, loving and kind. You know that your heart center is beginning to open when you automatically start choosing the more generous or kind option in any given situation. Never forget that generosity and kindness arise out of compassion and respect. Often people find that they are not in touch with their heart center and are not quite sure as to how to go about 'getting in touch'. This takes us to the all-embracing question: 'Did I love well?' We love well when we are open and vulnerable, when we are able to give with no strings attached. Therefore, whatever path you choose, make sure that it is connected with your heart. Many spiritual philosophies and practices offer us bliss, knowledge and power. We are often attracted to the more glamorous and easy practices, which promise us instant solutions with very little need for active change on our part. However, these represent the public relations aspect of the spiritual trade, and if you rely on these means alone you will not arrive anywhere near enlightenment. Spiritual progress is not connected with the seeking or gaining of extraordinary powers and experiences, which usually only gratify the ego. If we begin chasing these, we could well end up losing our way. It is important not to bring the ambitious, material and self-centered aspects of modern-day society into your spiritual work. Most of us tend to keep our spiritual and day-to-day lives separate. For instance, take the fact that many of us meditate and during meditation feel serene, happy, and completely in tune with Creation. But after a while, these feelings wear off and we are back to square one, caught in our humdrum routine, with all its attendant stresses and challenges. It doesn't have to be this way. If we allow and actively work towards bringing that same state of being into our mundane encounters, we will find that they too have been transformed into experiences of love and harmony. In other words, if we let our heart be the arbiter of our being, we would be well on our way to spiritual progress; we would truly be living from the heart. Aparna Jha, India
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