How can we know which spiritual path to follow?
Question: How can we know which spiritual path to follow?
Answer: This is a valid concern by many who think of practising a spiritual path. We may think, there are so many teachers, books, paths – how do I know that my path is right? To understand what is good for us, we need to be pragmatic. If our conception of spirituality is – there is one right path and finding it will make my life successful and not finding it means failure – then such understanding of spirituality will make our life insecure. Instead we should see and understand that there is a purpose to life.
Look at our existence right now. While speaking, we formulate some thoughts and then speak. However, the entire mechanism of thoughts getting converted to voice is unknown. Similarly, how food gets digested and converted to energy is unknown. We can see that there is something beyond us which sustains our existence and enables our basic functions in life. We need air, water, food for survival which is provided to us. We need heat and light for functioning which is also provided to us. If such survival and functional needs of life are provided for then the need for a spiritual path should also be provided for by a similar arrangement.
If we use our intelligence and consider all the teachers, books, paths available around us we may get confused. How to choose between so many options? Whichever option we chose, we may think that there still might be a better option available. However, if we think that there is some higher divine being or force who is sustaining my existence and based on my intelligence take a step forward in that direction, we can have two possibilities. If my path is right, I will realize about that divine higher being. If my path is not right, I will not realize. Here we should understand that realizing that my path is not right should not be seen as a failure This should be seen as a step in my evolution. When we are sick, we do not explore all the possible treatments available. We take what is workable using our experience and intelligence. If the treatment works, we continue. However, if it does not work, we explore other ways. Similarly, if we do not get intended results after choosing a spiritual path, we explore other ways.
We do not have to wait for a mystical revelation to begin our spiritual journey. We can take small steps using our intelligence and experience and do a course correction if we realize that the teacher or the path is not the best for me. We will be given this intelligence from inside because, we are not just putting faith in a particular teacher, we are putting faith in the divine.
To summarize, we do not have to wait infinitely to choose a spiritual path. At the same time, we do not have to gullibly just jump into whatever comes in front of us. We use our God given intelligence to make the best choice and leave it to the higher force to guide us further.
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