Two years ago today was the most meaningful day of my life — the day my guru officially accepted me as his student and I made lifelong vows to stay committed to my spiritual practice, do my best to love God and serve others, and to avoid certain activities that cover the true nature of the soul.
Since then I’ve experienced lots of ups and downs. I’m sure you can relate to this. Material life is like an ocean. Sometimes the waters are calm and clear; others times there are thrashing waves. I’m learning that the art to navigating the ocean of material existence is to not get too comfortable or complacent when the waters are calm, and to not panic too much when the waves start to crash down.
Staying grounded and centered amidst the storms of life is possible if we have the right perspective. Zooming out our lens and broadening our view allows us to see how everything that happens is happening for us, not to us. With the right attitude, precious gems emerge from below the waters of every experience, no matter how negative it may seem. Life is a cosmic classroom offering us sensitivity training to uproot and reconfigure habits, responses, and mindsets that hold us back from accessing our true potential for compassion, love, and wisdom through realization.
My realization on how to improve and enlighten one’s perspective relates to a quote from my teacher that I’ve kept near and dear to my heart.
“You can not rise any higher than your priorities, and you can only upgrade your priorities by good association.” — Vaisesika Dasa
Whenever I find old vices re-surfacing and find myself in “victim consciousness”, feeling overwhelmed and pessimistic about my abilities to navigate the challenges of life, it always correlates with times when I haven’t been prioritizing giving proper attention and time to my spiritual practices.
To enlighten my perspective requires elevating my priorities by understanding that there is a difference between my life and my life situation. My life is who I am (a spirit soul currently inhabiting a material body). My life situation consists of my temporary designations related to my body and the external responsibilities I have in navigating through the world. Both are important. We should work to harmonize them. But we must understand that without our life there is no life situation. When I identify too strongly with my life situation and forget about my life, my consciousness digresses.
Connecting with our truest identity — the soul — through spiritual practices that bring us closer to God, is the most upgraded priority one can have in life. It’s the foundation for moving throughout the world with grace, being empowered to truly serve life and uplift others, and having deeply nourishing relationships. And this priority can only be accessed by good association.
On the anniversary of my spiritual initiation I am reflecting on and revisiting my commitment to organize my life around the principle of having uplifting association — keeping the company of sincere spiritualists, associating with my teacher and other great souls through hearing their talks and lectures, and staying in touch with spiritual sound through hearing and chanting sacred mantras and reading wisdom literatures much as possible.
Another of my intentions is to do my best to expand my appreciating capacity. I’ve experienced so much the power of actively appreciating other spiritualists and the way they prioritize their life and nourish their connection with Divinity. As Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”