Meditation as a Way of Life: An Initiate’s Journey and Guide to Growth
…will offer down–to–earth guidance for anyone wanting to build a clear, well–defined spiritual practice. Its universal principles, distilled from the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda (author of the best–selling Autobiography of a Yogi), are applicable to a wide range of seekers, from the hatha yoga enthusiast to the mainstream religionist, from the explorer of alternative traditions to those who have not yet committed to a clear spiritual identity. The book’s personable narrative, accessible presentation of information, and universal application make it enjoyable to read and life–enhancing to apply.
Where the mini Pocket Guide to Meditation left off, Meditation and the Spiritual Life picks up to provide the reader with more complete, detailed advice for crafting a fulfilling spiritual life, including:
- A model for establishing a spiritual practice
- Exercises for increasing energy
- Benefits of using affirmations
- Instructions for mantra practice & meditation on Inner Sound
- Techniques that make prayer effective
- Guidelines to measure inner progress
The Inner Life
Like siblings, spirituality and religion share common parentage, a concept called the Inner Life. The term may evoke unappealing images of austere renunciation, but the Inner Life is the essence of spirituality and the basis for all genuine religious activity. It comes from the fact that every religion has two sets of teachings; outer doctrine (dogma and ritual) and inner tradition (mystical or spiritual), both of which exist simultaneously. To clarify the distinctions I use the analogy of a walnut: Outer teachings – called exoteric – are like a walnut’s shell. Its hardness is ideal for protective purposes and withstands the rigors of time to guard prized contents. This shell satisfies those for whom surface teachings and vague concepts of God are acceptable without looking deeper. Others starve from such topical fare and want to crack the shell for its inner meat; the mystical or spiritual teachings – called esoteric – that foster Enlightenment.
Yet how exactly does ‘inner’ differ from ‘outer?’ The inner life is based on direct experience – a point so vital that I emphasize it repeatedly. Looking at a photo of fire isn’t the same as feeling its heat. Likewise, knowing Spirit by personal realization is far different from reading or hearing about it. St. Thomas Aquinas understood this point very well. He was the Christian scholar of his era but had a mystical experience while celebrating Mass on December 6, 1273, after which he stopped writing his great work, the Summa Theologiae. When asked why he had discontinued, Aquinas replied,
“I cannot go on…All that I have written seems to me like so much straw compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me…”
The inner life isn’t the intellectual life. It strives to uplift soul awareness above ego identification and induce recollection of its divine origin in Spirit. Worshiper and Worshiped reunite in a holy bond, a state hard for the ordinary person to understand.