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Spiritual Life Is Not For Superficially Minded People

Many times you read things out of curiosity, as a novel, for fun — oh, this is good, that is good; you go on moving from book to book, from theme to theme, from idea to idea, from ideal to ideal, you appreciate it. What is needed is conviction, not appreciation; if you are convinced, follow it, dive deep into it, test it in your life. Do not move superficially, it does not help.

Spiritual life is not for superficially minded people. Whatever you think, think seriously about it; no pretensions, no hypocrisy, be honest with yourself. If you believe in something, then follow it, you cannot reject it. You need not please anybody in the world; you have to satisfy your own inner being. That is why in spiritual life first come conviction, honesty, and steadfastness — all these things are necessary. Otherwise, you take it very lightly, because the conviction is not there. To gain conviction you have to search for proofs, ‘Why should I believe in this, why should I take this for granted?’ Question yourself; it is not about what others believe in but what you believe in.

A strong conviction is necessary; then you dive deep. Otherwise what happens? Today you accept one thing, tomorrow you read another book; another friend says something different, and you stop
one religious practice and start something else. This is what generally happens in our modern society, because there is so much knowledge, so much is thrown at us, so many books, so many cults, so naturally we are often baffled, confused. That is why the knowledge explosion is not always good, it causes indigestion also. You cannot digest all those things unless you are sure of what you are aiming at, where you can find the things to follow. All disciplines are good, mind that. No discipline is bad, provided you follow it. But to simply move about on the surface does not help.

In the spiritual life, as Sri Ramakrishna plainly pointed out, be sincere, be earnest, be serious, be steadfast; then alone will you get something. That is, you have to dive deep into yourself.

Source - Light on Patanjali – IV by Swami Sarvagatananda published in Prabuddha Bharata Magazine November 2008 issue.