Subhuti was one of the chief disciples of Buddha and he had been long wanting to propagate the teachings of his master. One morning, during Buddha’s sojourn in Jetavana, just outside his abode Gandhakutir, he prostrated before Buddha and sought his permission to spread his message far and wide.
“Get up, Subhuti,” Buddha said. “It’s not easy being a teacher. Even if you are speaking beautiful words, there will be plenty who will criticize and condemn you.”
“With your blessings and grace, O Shasta, I’m sure it won’t affect me. Do I have Tathagat’s permission?”
Buddha remained silent for a few minutes and made no further remarks. Subhuti sat there with his head bowed. Meanwhile, other monks approached Buddha with urgent tasks relating to Jetavana and other viharas, retreat centers, and monasteries that were mushrooming in all parts of India. Three hours later, Buddha had his meal and went inside his cottage for his daily rest.
A few more hours passed and when Buddha emerged again for the evening discourse, Subhuti was still outside with his head bowed.
“Subhuti,” Buddha said, “you are still here. I thought you got your answer from my silence.”
“I’m not wise enough to know the meaning of Tathagat’s silence, Lord. No one is.”
Buddha smiled and assumed his lotus posture.
“What if you go to a village to teach, Subhuthi, and people choose not to listen to you? What will you do?”
“I’ll not mind, Lord, for I’ll remind myself that at least they are not calling me names or accusing me.”
“What if they do that?”
“I’ll still smile, O Tathagat, for, I’ll remind myself that this is a small price to pay for spreading your message. That, they may be doing much worse by abusing me physically.”
“And what if they do that and hurl stones at you?”
“I’ll still be okay with Tathagat’s grace. I’ll remind myself that at least they have not pinned me down and stabbed me?”
“What if they do that?”
“I’ll take heart thinking that they have not killed me.”
“And what if, Subhuti,” Buddha asked in his usual detachment, “they do kill you.”
“I’ll be most happy, Tathagat,” Subhuti replied raising his head for the first time. Beholding the beautiful form of Buddha, with tearful eyes, he continued, “Other than dying by Tathagat’s feet, I cannot think of a better nirvana than dying spreading Tathagat’s message.”
“Subhuti,” Buddha said rising from his seat and embracing him, “you are fit to be a teacher. Morning was merely your test of patience. You have the spiritual attitude required to take on a great cause.”
In this wisdom of a lifetime, nothing else perhaps could spell any clearer the three core virtues that define a person’s spiritual attitude. Patience, selflessness, and determination. In Subhuti’s character I also see a sense of gratitude and surrender. We can’t develop an unconditional spiritual attitude without cultivating patience and selflessness.
Non-fulfillment of desires and expectations is often at the root of human suffering. Why don’t people value me? Why doesn’t my partner love me? Why isn’t the world waiting for me? Why isn’t my work appreciated? And so on.
If I start giving a sermon on how expectations are bad, that won’t work because you already know all that. We are so compelled and controlled by our emotions and desires that when in the throes of them, our viewpoint seems so right and legit, no logic works at that time. That, however, can’t be the excuse for not evolving spiritually.
And that leads me to the crux of the matter today: a spiritual attitude. Unless we foster a spiritual outlook towards our own life and others’, we can’t really hope to rise above our petty thoughts and emotions. We place too much emphasis on self-comfort, on why I’m being treated or not treated a certain way. How about why shouldn’t I be more selfless? Why shouldn’t I be more giving? Rather than being in the crowd opposing Subhuti, why couldn’t I be Subhuti, instead?
A spiritual attitude basically means that we don’t always put ourselves at the center of our decisions and actions. Maybe we don’t always have to look for what’s-in-it-for-me. Why must every generous action of ours be reciprocated? After all, if it’s truly selfless then let it be just that — selfless.
Have you noticed how sometimes we give a gift to someone and we want to know exactly what that person did with that gift? And we may even feel hurt if we find out that he or she didn’t use it and passed it on to someone else. That means, we never actually parted with our gift, to begin with. Where’s the act of giving in that?
If you wish to take on a cause to help others, some cause that makes your existence more useful, which in turn will make your life more fulfilling, developing a spiritual attitude towards life and our world is a must. Which essentially means that just because the other person is hurting me, or people disagree with me and don’t reciprocate etc. are not good enough reasons for me to abandon patience, selflessness, and compassion. And sometimes, the only way of transcending your small personal issues is by devoting your energy to bigger ones.
To worry or be careworn is our mula pravriti, inherent tendency. We may as well then worry about greater and altruistic causes than be bogged down by our own piddly issues.
Mulla Nasrudin was taking a stroll with his friend when suddenly out of nowhere clouds began gathering in the sky. Before they knew it, it was raining in buckets.
“Mulla!” his friend shouted, “open your umbrella! Thank God we have one!”
“This umbrella is no good,” Mulla strained to speak under the onslaught of heavy rain. “It is full of holes.”
“Why on earth are you carrying it around then?”
“How would I know it was going to rain!”
Like Mulla we carry around our baggage, our me-first umbrella, thinking it would help us, insulate us, but it’s full of holes. It can’t protect us or those around us. Not from sunshine nor rain. No doubt, you have to take care of yourself, enjoy yourself, and so on, but to go through an entire lifetime doing just that is plain ignorance. It’s certainly not spiritual and it definitely won’t be fulfilling.
If it’s fulfillment you seek, look past yourself. Even past all methods of meditation, yoga, and so on. Methods don’t necessarily lead to fulfillment. While they may help us become more mindful of our words, actions, and speech, at the end of the day, it is our attitude that fuels our fulfillment. The pages of history are replete with selfless saints across all religions who never did this kriya or that, they didn’t sit down and practice yoga or meditation as per the yogic scriptures, were they any less enlightened? I don’t think so. What they did possess was a gentle and compassionate world-view.
The more spiritual your perspective, the grander your life becomes. Forgiveness, selflessness, patience, compassion, and gratitude naturally flow unrestrained like Himalayan waterfalls in monsoons.
Be patient. Give before you take, give a lot more than you wish to take. Nature will reciprocate. It never fails.
Art of Meditation
Free yourself from suffering and live life to the fullest. Learn the yogic technique of meditation in 4 days (and master it over a lifetime)
Are you interested in gaining a deeper understanding of each of the virtues that make up your spiritual energy? Here below are some further reading topics on the said virtues. Furthermore, I touch upon few additional spiritual practices that will help you cleanse, feel, and increase your spiritual energy.
Spiritual energy virtue 1: Learning how to forgive
This is a question I get asked more frequently than any other: how to forgive? Often readers tell me that they have forgiven the other person but they are still hurt.
When you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean you’ve accepted their manner, demeanor, or actions. It simply means that you have decided, out of compassion or care, for the good of the other person or your own, to not let their past actions ruin your peace. The peace you experience upon forgiving someone quickly vanishes if they repeat the mistake or don’t value your kindness. Think of forgiveness as a gift you give to the transgressor. When the other person doesn’t acknowledge it, or devalues it by repeating their actions, they have basically not accepted your gift. Your gift is returned and it’s lying with you again now. Read more here.
Spiritual energy virtue 2: Selflessness - The most profitable deal you can make in this lifetime
If there was a term for “spiritual gravity”, I would say it’s selflessness. Just like earth draws objects to it because of its gravitational force, selfless people attract everything in enormous magnitude by virtue of their altruistic demeanor. By selflessness, I’m not suggesting that you ignore your own needs or torture yourself. Selflessness is simply a way of life, a sense of understanding that we can’t be happy unless we pay attention to the happiness of others too. You may have a complete meal on your own, but it’s truly fulfilling when you share it. Read more here.
Spiritual energy virtue 3: Patience is your answer to living a graceful life
I’m referring to persistence + patience. Not just persistence but patience too. With persistence we can keep walking one step at a time, but it is with patience that we do so gracefully.
It’s amazing how we can accomplish just about anything without losing our cool when we are patient. You are not getting what you want, be patient. Your son, daughter, spouse is not listening to you, no worries, try and be patient. (Or, maybe the more common scenario: you’re not listening to them, no sweat, tell them to be patient…).
You can’t seem to grasp a certain concept or solve a particular problem, take it easy, be patient. The other person is not changing his/her behavior, give it time, be patient. Often, where all else fails, patience works. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s often worth the effort.
Go here to read a beautiful story with an inspiring message…the way to lead our life.
Spiritual energy virtue 4: Why being compassionate is important
Almost in all walks of life, if your inner strength, your focus, your efforts can outlive the adversities, you can succeed at pretty much anything you set your mind to. A compassionate heart leads to greater mental strength. It may sound paradoxical but compassion and tenacity are directly proportional to each other.
Today, I am sharing with you a powerful practice to gain inner strength, to purify yourself, to help you transform yourself emotionally, mentally, so you may be the person you have always wanted to be. Compassion is one of the shortest routes to divinity.
To learn how to demonstrate compassion – Go here.
Spiritual energy virtue 5: Practice of gratitude - Being grateful to others is being grateful to God.
Let me reiterate: gratitude is one of the most profound emotions. If you are grateful you become loving, blissful, peaceful, and calm automatically. Remaining calm or being at peace, to be able to love anyone and everyone are the natural outcomes of a grateful soul.
In a way, gratitude is not just about being thankful, it is about being gracefully thankful with tolerance, with acceptance and contentment.
Practice gratitude and I promise you will experience the dawning of a transformation within you, keep at it, and you will amaze yourself before long. Gratitude is not always about grand gestures, it may range from a sincere thank you to an act of extraordinary compassion. Let me spell out the practice for you – here!
How to cleanse your spiritual energy through meditation
Come to think of it, I find it mind-boggling that we waste much of our mental energy in chasing the ghosts of thoughts that have no bearing on anything at all. I feel that there’s something about human biology that primes us for excessive thinking. Meditation slows you down, mindfulness elevates your consciousness, spirituality makes you more conscientious but in spite of all that, unwarranted thoughts seem to have the master key.
In this post, I share with you a powerful method to master the art of directing or lifting your attention:
- I want to focus but can’t overcome distractions (Directing your attention)
- I don’t want to focus on these thoughts but they just don’t leave me (Lifting your attention)
- What would I be thinking about right now if I wasn’t thinking about what I had been?
Read more here.
How to feel spiritual energy through awakening the Kundalini?
You may have heard how each chakra has a certain number of petals and different letters, various presiding deities, many attendant deities, different shapes and so on. Let me tell you, these are unnecessary complications. Understanding the real truth of chakras is a completely different ball game.
The only way to awaken the kundalini is by meditating over a prolonged period, that’s all. Upon attainment one finds that the truth is not what it had been made out to be. The real form of the tree of life is imperceptible; it has neither beginning nor end. The one, who cuts it from the roots with great detachment, reaches an irreversible state of tranquility. He reaches a shore from where there is no return. He returns to his source. This is also the truth of the kundalini, the reality of the chakras. Read more here.
How to increase your spiritual energy by the practice of Gyatri Mantra Sadhana?
In any event, when we chant a mantra such as the Gayatri Mantra, we are not asking any supernatural being to help us. Instead, we are invoking our own latent energy; we are invoking the power within us. Associating it with a deity of some kind is a matter of meditation; of better focus, visualization and manifestation. Read more here.