December 2017 Looking within and double-checking with your conscience is one of the key spiritual practices that ensure success in spiritual pursuits, says Shivi Verma Ever since I can remember, I was deeply aware of a ‘being’ within me who kept a watch over me and knew my intentions very well. And even though I doubted the existence of God and was largely unhappy with the ways of the world, I couldn’t deny the presence of this 'being' within me. And I was afraid of it. I always felt that I was being monitored, and somewhere, an account of my motivations, thoughts, and actions was being maintained. Whenever a selfish, dishonest, fearful, or jealous thought would cross my mind, I would immediately think of the ‘one’ within me, who knew right from wrong, and from whom I could never run away. I realised that I could present all kinds of arguments to justify my meanness to others, but not to the ‘one’ within. He knew me very well. Although I knew nothing of spirituality or meditation back then, I used to constantly check with this ‘being’ before doing anything. And its voice used to be quite loud and clear if I acted selfishly. My biggest endeavour used to be to keep it happy, quiet, and satisfied. Because I consulted it regularly, it constantly encouraged me to speak the truth and admit my feelings or mistakes on being asked or questioned. This habit prevented me, to a large extent, from wronging others and deceiving myself. Of course, there were moments when I didn’t listen to it. Like not bowing when I passed by a temple, not doing my homework, or dismissing my intuition when it cautioned me of danger. I argued that if God was everywhere, why should I bend before an idol? And I was so afraid of thinking wrong of others and then repenting later, that I used to deliberately overlook any signs that told me otherwise. Even after getting hurt and ill-treated by others, I used to feel happy to look within myself and discover that I carried no guilt about wronging people in return. Only, much later in life, on entering the path, I realised that looking inwards was a kind of spiritual practice essential for a seeker to purify himself. And even when I entered the path, I realised that I couldn’t follow rules or disciplines. My seeking was an intense, single-minded, all-consuming passion to find God, which hounded me every waking moment of my life. It had become a way of living for me. Needless to say, being natural paid its dividends, and I found the secret to happiness quite early in life. And now, when I find people stuck in their lives or spiritual paths, I realise that it’s because they avoid doing what I did quite zealously back then, even if I didn’t believe in God. Which is looking within and being truthful to yourself. Most people deceive and continue to lie to themselves, and feign innocence when faced with the task of confronting themselves. And I realise that facing yourself is not easy. We all like to believe that we are as pure as the driven snow, faultless to a ‘T’, and always justified in whatever we do or say. It gives us momentary power, confidence, and the ability to work our way through life. Not feeling good enough is one of the worst feelings that we can ever encounter — it breaks us from within. But achieving good self-esteem is a journey, and facing and fixing our shadow parts is an integral part of it. Otherwise, no amount of prayers, affirmations, chanting, yoga, or meditation would be able to give us peace, success, and happiness: something we ardently desire and expect to achieve, once we start walking the path of spirituality. Editor of Life Positive, Shivi Verma is a devotee who found all her answers in loving God passionately.
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