Open Heart Extra - Importance of a Spiritual Family


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As your spiritual practices start to work, your reasons for being with people start to change, and who you want to be with changes too. Sometimes it’s not easy, as longstanding relationships or jobs are discarded. Your old friends might find you a little dull because you’ve experienced a taste of a certain kind of truth – a deeper truth connected to a different quality of being. Social interactions that used to be engaging pale next to the attraction of the Beloved, and social life begins to seem surreal. Not everyone can “hear” the quality of the spiritual experience you are having. You are looking for God, for whatever form of the Beloved touches your heart. You are looking everywhere.

The poet-saint Kabir says:

Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
you will not find me in the stupas,
not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues,
nor in cathedrals:
not in masses,
nor kirtans,
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me,
you will see me instantly —
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

When you are first awakening and developing a spiritual perspective, satsang is especially supportive. Satsang is like having a spiritual family. Satsang is a community of truth seekers. It is a group of people with the shared awareness that there is a spiritual dimension to the universe. Goethe had this beautiful thought:

“The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone here and there who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.”

Once we get a taste of the freedom that comes with letting go of our stuff – anger, righteousness, jealousy, our need to be in control, the judging mind, just to name a few – we start to look at those things in new ways. That is the teaching of being in the moment. For someone who understands that this precious birth is an opportunity to awaken, is an opportunity to know God, all of life becomes an instrument for getting there – marriage, family, job, play, travel, all of it. You just spiritualize your life.

Christ said to be in the world but not of the world. You are simultaneously living your story line – keeping your ground, remembering your zip code – and having your awareness free and spacious, not caught in anything, just delighting in the richness of this timeless moment.

– Ram Dass


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