What is the yardstick to measure my spiritual progress? How do I know if I am progressing spiritually?
The yardstick to measure your spiritual progress is: ‘Equanimity + Awareness’.
*Equanimity = [Internal Non-Reaction + External Non-Reaction] in any situation come what may. [Sambhava]
*Awareness = Being in the present moment at all times. [Sakshi bhava]
Remember Equanimity without Awareness is of no use. Even Awareness without Equanimity is of no use. Both are mandatory requirements for spiritual progress. Write this equation on something and put it up in your room ->
Sakshi bhava + Sam bhava = Eradication of Dukkha.
What is Equanimity+Awareness?
Equanimity is your ability to remain centered in a situation where you would have previously reacted. If you learn the skill of ‘Non-reaction’ and the Art of ‘Living in the present moment’ in ANY AND EVERY SITUATION IN THE WORLD, then ONLY will you be able to attain FULL & PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT.
But this is very hard to achieve just with intellectual wisdom, so Buddha devised the technique of Satipatthana which was his contribution to Spirituality. It is available in detail in MahaSatipatthana Sutta in the Pali Language[English translations available on Google].
What is the difference between attaining experiences of Samadhi & Enlightenment? Are they the same thing?
No! They are not the same. One can attain higher levels of Samadhi called Dhyanas [Sanskrit] and Jhanas [Pali] but still NOT BE FULLY ENLIGHTENED.
Then what is the use of attaining Samadhi?
These small Samadhi experiences are ONLY MILEPOSTS that you are on that correct unpaved path in the dark jungle of spirituality. But they are not mandatory to be experienced to attain enlightenment. Many have reached enlightenment without even noticing them. For e.g. Whenever you drive on the highway, you may or may NOT notice mile-posts? It does NOT mean you are not on the correct path, right?
Experiences do NOT mean ENLIGHTENMENT. Buddha discovered this and wanted to show it as proof that, in so-called Samadhi, one can have visual experiences of light……… auditory experiences of sounds of the universe or sounds of gushing of blood in ones own body……. olfactory experiences of smells of different types…… gustatory experiences with tastes of different types……. or tactile experiences of sensations of different types……even past memories of previous lifetimes. NONE of these mean enlightenment, they might just be different descriptions of mileposts of Samadhi in different texts but still they are just plain EXPERIENCES within the realm of MIND+MATTER. They are not ‘FULL ENLIGHTENMENT’.
What is FULL OR PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT?
PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT is the state that is BEYOND THE REALM OF MIND+MATTER. It cannot be experienced by the 5 senses. It happens when you go beyond the realm of 5 senses by the constant practice of ‘Non-Reaction’ + ‘Live in the present’. Therefore he coined the word ‘Sambodhi’ – PERFECT enlightenment.
How to attain PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT?
Buddha said that there is no use of attaining 5% or 10% of Enlightenment, because at the deep levels, there are still impurities of raaga & dvesha lurking around. They cause Dukkha in the person who has had all these experiences of so-called Samadhi. So he coined the word ‘Sama Samadhi’ which means the Right [type of] Samadhi. This is a pre-requisite for FULL Enlightenment [Samboddhi]. Samboddhi can be attained only after the 100% eradication of Dukkha.
What is Dukkha?
Dukkha is the constant stream of thoughts of dvandva in the mind – right/wrong, is/is not, should be/shouldn’t be, pleasant/unpleasant, why/why not. Honestly speaking, we are always caught up in dvandva. Each and everyone of us on this path are in 100% Dukkha at ALL times. We have just gotten used to the Dukkha like that Frog in boiling water and have started labelling it as Sukha. But we have recognized that something is wrong with our so called ‘Sukkhi life’ so we have started this spiritual journey, otherwise we would not be here.
What is the way out of this Dukkha?
The only way to get out of Dukkha is ‘Equanimity with Full Awareness’ to everything that is happening. What is, IS! That brings us back to the original technique devised by Buddha to attain Equanimity with awareness in actuality not just understand intellectually, that is called Sati-patthana [established in awareness].
So start practicing ‘Equanimity with awareness’ everyday…. The path is long, but there is light at the end surely! I am right by your side, keep walking!
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