Dedicated to Sri Sarada Devi

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"Holy Mother" painted by Swami Tadatmananda

Used courtesy of the Vedanta Society of Southern California

Dedicated to Sri Sarada Devi
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Surmounting doubts in spiritual life

Doubts in spiritual life are a constant companion that are left behind only when realization occurs. We all have spent so much time and continue to spend time when we wonder and doubt and mistrust what we have perceived to be the truth. Those days are horrible and continue to scare me.

Today fortunately I am not in that frame of mind and I wish to share some thoughts about it. I am unable to discriminate and be a jnani and say this is real and this is unreal. What has always helped me is to maintain a spiritual routine and specifically when I do not want to or feel like it. My routine is nothing spectacular it is doing my reading and prayers. I go and sit in the shrine and express what I am feeling including the doubts and questions. Those are agonizing moments between the Mother and me. It has happened many times and will happen in the future too. But after a week or maybe more, there is some kind of peace or solace or some message in some shape or form that reminds me and I get back on the path.

What do others personally do to take care of those dark times?

Re: Surmounting doubts in spiritual life

I cannot suggest any thing better than what you are already doing ie to go to the shrine and pour your feelings, doubts and questions (in deep contemplation) before the Divine Mother or Sri Ramakrishna. Reading of good spiritual literature often helps in answering one's questions and clearing one's doubts.

Maintenance of your simple spiritual routine is a good parctice. Truth is always simple. Untruth can be spectacular.

We must remember that there is no pot of gold to be collected as a prize as a result of our sadhana.

If all your spiritual activities have grown empty and you are compelled to walk away, says St. John (of the cross), tie yourself to one practice only: contemlative silence. Abandon discursive prayer if it has become mechanical and meaningless. Let go of holy images if they no longer evoke the sacred. Refrain from spiritual discourse if it tastes like idle gossip in your mouth. But do not turn away from the silence.

The emptiness of the dark night is a yielding emptiness -- It is an emptiness that gives way to the fullness. it is the living substratum of all reality. It is rooted in quiet.

"God spoke only one word for all eternity and he spoke it in silence," says John, "and it is in eternal silence that we hear it."

Location: Wilmslow, U.K.

Re: Re: Surmounting doubts in spiritual life

I thought it might be interesting to consider what "one word" might have referred to. My lexicon Bible program is not working at present. It shows the original words of the Bible as they appear in the translated sentence. Instead I have found some familiar verses.

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalms 46:10a)

. . . commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. (Psalms 4:4c)

Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee. Selah. (Psalms 84:4)

Location: San Diego, California, USA

Re: Re: Re: Surmounting doubts in spiritual life

Jayanti, my quote is of St. John of the Cross from his "Dark Night of the Soul." I guess he is perhaps referring to " In the beginning was the word(?)....and that word was God" Does that make sense?

Location: Wilmslow, U.K.

Re: Surmounting doubts in spiritual life

Brother Paritosh,
I must agree with all that Brother Vriju has said.
I especially collaborate with the idea of silence being the key, but is this an outer silence or an inner silence?
What I am doing by degrees is learning to rely on the word of the Mother/Guru. I know that the words she has said are true (at about the level of my brain), but are they REALLY true? If they are then we have absolutely nothing to worry about except to develop courage, forebearance and patience with ourselves. And by degrees to discover that deep, deep inner place where we know who we are without second.

Location: New Bern, NC

Re: Re: Surmounting doubts in spiritual life

Sister Rosemary,
It is the inner silence.

Are the words REALLY true? One must test them in one's life and see for oneself.

Yes, we must keep on purifying our heart with courage, forbearance, and patience.

Location: Wilmslow, U.K.