Progressing down a spiritual path initially seems like a lot of work and individuals tend to shy away from reading, studying, contemplative thinking, writing. and going the extra mile to have those profound realizations. How do we help our friends and families see the benefit of putting in the work it takes to make spiritual advancement? Is leading by example the best method or do we have to discover specifically what blocks are impeding them from engaging the subject fully and help them overcome these impediments on a case by case basis?
You raise a good point in what you have observed about people shying away from studying, and experiencing blockages in spiritual life. It is sad that we have lost the culture of studying the sastra. And, if we don’t study sastra, then we don’t hear, and we don’t have faith in God. Consequently, we just do religious practices in a routine manner. Everything becomes a ritual and mechanical. And people even go to temple in this robotic manner. There is no emotion involved. There is no bhav. People’s interest is not in bhakti, and that is very unfortunate.One way to take control of this situation, is to control the only thing that you can, which is your own mind. The way the mind typically works, is that we notice others faults or weaknesses, and try to get them to change. We even blame others for our very own feelings. Often times people who are trying to get others to change, attach their emotional well-being to if their loved one will change in the way that they are hoping. For example, “If only my mom would do more serious study of the scriptures, then I would feel so happy. But if she does not change, then I will feel frustrated.” But, in actuality, lasting happiness within you, cannot come from another’s actions. So instead of trying to change our friend or family, we can work at an individual level to change ourself. For this, you have to do self-study and introspection. You have to look into your own self, and study your own mind.PRACTICAL EXERCISE:
Vedic Psychology is designed to direct a person inward to observe their mind and emotions, and to better understand their motivations, desires, and decisions, and how they play out in life and relationships. So your question is a perfect one that you can use as a springboard to look deeper inside yourself. You can try this simple self-introspection exercise, that may help you to better understand the subtle drives of your mind.Answer these questions on a piece of paper, with complete honesty:
1. Make a list of the people in your life whom you are trying to get to change in some way, even if it means that you are trying to change their feelings, such as keeping them happy. The way you can tell whom you are wanting to change, is that if you do not feel 100% completely satisfied with them as they exist currently. Then you can know that there is something that you want changed about them. List each persons name, and then write what you want them to change. Also write what feeling you are currently having because they are not changing.
For ex: I want my partner to start studying scriptures more often. I am feeling frustrated because she seems to be facing a block on her spiritual path.
2. In the next sentence, write how you will feel if the person did change in the way you desire, and why.
For ex: If I could help my mom to get past this block on her spiritual path, then I would feel overjoyed because she can make spiritual advancement.
3. Study closely the feeling that you think you would feel if you got the other person to change. Close your eyes and let yourself feel in your body, that feeling. Where do you feel that feeling? In your heart, or stomach, or throat? What does it feel like? Let that feeling come over you fully.
4. Now that you have danced with that feeling, contemplate what you can do to generate that same feeling for yourself, just by controlling your own mind – – not putting any more effort into trying to get the other person to change in order for you to have that feeling. Write down what you need to do or say to yourself in order to generate this feeling.
5. Make a commitment to do what you need to do to generate that positive feeling all on your own, without requiring or relying on another to change. Write a statement that you can refer to that reminds you of this commitment. For ex: When I feel the urge to try to change others, I will use this as a reminder to look inward, and to control my own mind to generate the feeling that I am desiring to have.
6. Contact each person on your list, and write them a letter that you can send, or if possible, you will read aloud to them. Your letter can tell them that you thought that your happiness or joy would come from them changing in this certain way (be specific), but through introspection, you realized that your happiness comes from within, and you have figured out how to be happy without trying to change them.
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