By Sensei Erwin L. Rimban
“Know thyself” For ages, this encouragement from the wise philosopher of Ancient Greece, Socrates, has been the motto of personal self-discovery and self-transformation.
For many people, it is spiritual development which is a paramount feature of their lives. And so today, I will share constructive, feasible and effective strategies and tips for people from all walks of life and from various religious and spiritual traditions that can be followed to start one’s journey toward genuine spirituality.
Meditation. Practice a form of meditation. This is the central move followed by mystics, mystical philosophers, and students of the spiritual path since ancient times. Meditation improves one’s focus, mental make-up, and concentration. It has many health benefits, especially immune system enhancement. There are many systems of meditation available for the serious student of the spiritual path. Ideally, they should be studied under the guidance of a spiritual master or a genuine, service-oriented spiritual society. However, if these are not available, then one can read basic meditation techniques from various books. The rewards are infinite. I recommend meditation to everyone.
Service. If you want to progress spiritually, then the most important move you can make is to serve others willingly and cheerfully. Loving others has always been the first commandment in all the world religions. And service is love in action. The greatest spiritual masters have always emphasized the need to give oneself lovingly. You can serve in many ways. The best jobs are the service-oriented jobs. But if you are not in such a job, then you can still serve others by being a volunteer in any altruistic, service-oriented or social organization. There are many ways of helping others; most of these are limited only by your imagination. Make a habit of helping others, especially strangers. The development of your soul is measured by how much you love those who are not even close to you, those who are not related to you. Altruism is wisdom in action.
Read widely and deeply. Read from mystical, spiritual, religious, philosophical, sociological and literary works. Read widely and deeply from the works of spiritual masters and masters of wisdom. Please do not be selective in your reading. Many gems of wisdom can be unearthed from even the most unexpected sources. Reading widely will help develop your power of discrimination. This means the ability to separate truth from fiction, a talent which develops simultaneously with wisdom. Even contemporary literature like science fiction and epic fantasy have many gems of wisdom buried in them. Be a bookworm and the Wisdom of Providence will surely crown your efforts with success.
Introspection. Develop the habit of introspection. From time to time, retire to a private place like your bedroom to synthesize insights from various experiences. Reflect after reading a good book. Make a diary, soul notebook or personal journal where you can write your insights and reflections. Read them and update from time to time. Create a regular schedule where your family can have retreats in spiritual places. Visit various churches, temples or spiritual vacation spots. Indulge your fantasy life from time to time. Commune with the divine.
Mindfulness. Be mindful about your family, community, environment and the universe. Try to see how individual units in a system merge together to form a harmonious whole. See the whole rather than the parts. Observe significant events and synchronistic happenings in your life. “Nothing happens by chance,” echoed Carl Jung. Change your schedule and personal habits and rhythms when the need arises. Be ecological, love Mother Earth. Life is more than just the mundane. Your life is more than just your personal, ego concerns. Take time to smell the flowers, so to speak. Love the universe.
Connecting to the whole. Make new friends. Communicate more. Make a genuine attempt to relate and be concerned about your fellowmen. Join mental, religious or spiritual organizations, particularly those with a service component. Help others in need. Give good advice to strangers. Volunteer for a community cause.
Openness. Please try to be open to new modes of thought, new ways of expression and new ways of interacting with society and the world. Study sacred manuscripts from other religions and spiritual traditions, not just your own. There is only One God, but many spiritual paths. Open your eyes to many truths that are hidden in various art and music forms. The worship of the Supreme Being is limited only by your experience and imagination. Be creative. Accept novelty as well as tradition. Create a mental atmosphere in yourself where it is easy to adapt and accept new data and information whenever these are relevant to the situation at hand. Be open to the infinite well of wisdom. Its touch may come unexpectedly and even in the most unusual of situations.
About the Author:
Sensei Erwin Rimban was born in the Philippine Islands. Since a young age he has been fascinated by the esoteric realm and avidly read books on world history, philosophy, astrology, mythology, the social sciences and similar fields. Educated at the University of the Philippines, where he graduated Cum Laude, he added Evolutionary Biology to his plethora of interests. After graduating from college, he spent many years in the tourist destination of Baguio City where he pursued a career in writing and teaching, while at the same time finding time to be a meditation teacher. Currently, he is active in organizational work, where he is promoting advocacy programs in educational philosophy, spiritual counseling, wisdom, metaphysics, mysticism, psychology, history, educational philosophy, ecology and alternative medicine. (He can be reached at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org).