Beyond feel-good spirituality — and beyond feel-bad spirituality

Many people nowadays present spirituality as a tool for helping us feel good about ourselves. Such a presentation serves a vital human need because today’s impersonal technology and dehumanizing corporate culture often make people feel inferior, insecure, even worthless. While having positive thoughts can be helpful and even essential, that in itself is not spiritual. And seeking to feel good can take us toward indulgences that can be severely anti-spiritual. 

Nonetheless, spirituality is not about feeling bad about ourselves either. Some people focus on the doctrine of original sin, wherein they focus on how impure they are and induce within people feelings of guilt and worthlessness. Such feelings can be not only psychologically damaging but also spiritually distracting. 

Spiritual growth requires us to free our consciousness from self-centeredness, which means avoiding both feelings of how good we are or how bad we are. The essence of spiritual growth is to reach out to a reality far bigger than ourselves. When our consciousness expands beyond the limits of matter, beyond the fetters of self centeredness, then it helps us experience profound non-material enrichment within ourselves (Bhagavad-gita 06.27). Especially when we become aware of the ultimate spiritual reality, Krishna, we become aware of our impurities without letting them overwhelm us. More importantly, we become aware of our spiritual identity but even that doesn’t consume us. Instead, we focus on linking with the divine, Krishna, and developing ourselves as instruments of the Divine for doing good in the world. This spiritual connection is the source of a sublime non-material joy that is free from all self-centered feelings, both positive and negative. 

One-sentence summary:

Spirituality is meant not to make us feel bad or feel good about ourselves; it is meant to make us feel a reality far bigger than ourselves.

Think it over:

  • Why is spirituality more than feeling good about ourselves?
  • Why is spirituality more than feeling bad about ourselves?
  • What is the essence of spirituality?

***

06.27: The yogi whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest perfection of transcendental happiness. He is beyond the mode of passion, he realizes his qualitative identity with the Supreme, and thus he is freed from all reactions to past deeds.

To know more about this verse, please click on the image

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Opening our mouth and opening our Gita
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5 Comments

  1. Nice,please keep it up

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  2. Hare Krishna Prabhuji, Dandavats, Jai Srila Prabhupada

    This article is so sublime! The way you have rescued devotees from falling into the trap of self destruction through self adoration or self chastisement is deep! You have clearly showed that the focus has to be on Krishna and not on ourselves!! When Krishna is in the center, correct self assessment and self development will happen.. Wonderful!

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  3. I really appreciate how you have explained this topic. It’s so helpful for intro bhakti classes/ workshop topics.
    Your website is my go-to for my own growth in bhakti as well as sharing it with others.

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