Your mind is like a large piece of paper. The first time you meditate, it’s like folding that paper. The second time you meditate, it’s like taking that folded paper and folding it over again. To meditate daily is like folding that paper again, and again, and again.
If you actually refold a paper – say 50 times – how tall will the final stack be? As thick as a phone book, you may say. But in reality, the height of that folded paper will be approximately 94.5 million miles! If you fold it once more, its height will be twice as much. This is an example of what in mathematics is called a geometric progression – and meditation, if you do it right, can be just as progressive.
(If you are smart, you already know what’s coming next) To learn meditation, register for our meditation workshop!
The spiritual self-help “market” is booming, and gurus are vying to grow their “customer-base”. Are you out “shopping” for a meditation technique, a sacred mantra, a yoga school, a spiritual path – or anything connected to Vedic spirituality? Here are a few “shopping” tips that may come in handy.
1. Study the “product description”:
Spiritual paths (or meditation techniques, yoga schools, etc.) with a sound philosophical basis are like commodities with a detailed product description. If you want to make an informed decision, these should be your top picks.
When you vet a spiritual path, look for answers to What, How and Why:
What results does this spiritual path promise? The answer to this question should resonate with you.
How to tread this spiritual path? The answer should detail the spiritual practices you are expected to follow. Once you know what price you have to pay in terms of commitment, see if it fits your “budget”; see if it’s a deal.
Why is this spiritual path the better choice? The answer should be based on Vedic citations, the arguments scientific and logical.
In spirituality, “customer satisfaction” doesn’t come easy. If you “buy” a meditation technique, for example, results show up only after days, weeks, or even years of committed practice. Till then you have to keep going, relying on whatever philosophical conviction you have mustered.
On any spiritual path, the philosophy often carries you longer than you expect. So go for a path that has a robust philosophy.
2. Plow through the “reviews”:
Online reviews on spirituality are unreliable. The reviewer almost never tells how long she has been on the journey. Perhaps she hasn’t even begun, and so doesn’t have anything meaningful to say.
And online reviewers rarely give details of their powerful influencer – their cultural background. For instance, westerners visiting our temple at Mumbai invariably leave behind five-star reviews on Google, partly because they are overwhelmed by the flower garland they receive from our guest reception team. For Indian guests, however, a garland neither adds to the experience, nor to the review.
So to get a fair idea about a spiritual path, meet practitioners in person. Well, this is much easier than it sounds. Just pay a visit to the “showroom” – the ashram, the temple, or the meditation center – and get into casual conversations with veterans. See if their experience matches the What, the How, and the Why of the philosophy.
The role of these veterans goes beyond the “purchase”. Later, while traversing the spiritual path you will need them for inspiration and guidance. So go for a path that has plenty of accessible role models.
3. Check out the “brand”:
A spiritual technique has good “brand value” if received from a guru who is connected to an authentic lineage of spiritual teachers. And an authentic lineage is one that’s hundreds of years old and has at least one mention in Vedic literature. For example, the mantra that I chant during meditation – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare – I have received from a guru who is from the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Lineage. This lineage can be traced back to at least the thirteenth century and is referred to in the Padma Purana.
4. If you get stuck, “Google”:
Recently, I was shopping for a note-taking app. After studying the product descriptions, plowing through the reviews, and checking the brands of all the options available, I narrowed down my choice list to two: Evernote, Onenote. Both seemed equally good, and I felt indefinitely stuck at the crossroads. But then I turned to Google, expressed my dilemma in the search box, and the answer came easy.
In spiritual “shopping” however, Google may not come handy. As we discussed earlier, online opinions on spirituality are often unreliable. So what do you do when you are stuck opting between spiritual paths that seem equally good?
Turn to God, express to him your dilemma, and sincerely pray for direction. The answer will come easy.