Samarpan/Milestones of Spiritual Life
The need for milestones
Every spiritual aspirant is like a lonely traveler on the unknown path of the journey within -- a journey that makes him give up old associations, takes him through new vistas,allows him to leave behind milestones and finally gives him the experience of the Reality.But the process extracts its price. Old association, guidance, support, care and protection found in the external world are lost during this journey, and at times the aspirant gets the feeling of being directionless in the uncharted expanse of spiritual vastness.
This brings in the need for a systematic work on milestones in spiritual life, by referring to which any spiritual practitioner can make out where he stands in the journey within.
Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive work on this subject. Words of masters focus mostly on sadhana, with scanty references to its milestones. Also, different religions and various spiritual paths have different modes of sadhana, and hence it is difficult to have a universal yardstick of spiritual progress. However, since Sri Ramakrishna practiced various religions and religious paths, his words and experiences can be used to create a model for milestones in spiritual life.
This work aims at finding the parameters of spiritual growth. Although it is not possible to objectify spiritual growth fully, this work gives a definite idea of one's state of spiritual progress.
Milestones in Nutshell
Talking of stages of spiritual growth,Sri Ramakrishna said:
'There are two indications of such knowledge. First, longing, that is to say, love for God. You may indulge in reasoning or discussion, but if you feel no longing or love, it is all futile. Second, the awakening of the Kundalini. As long as the Kundalini remains asleep, you have not attained knowledge of God.(Gospel, p.610-11).
'The first stage is that of the beginner. He studies and hears. Second is the stage of the struggling aspirant. He prays to God, meditates on him, and sings his name and glories. The third stage is that of the perfect soul. He has seen God, realized him directly and immediately in his inner consciousness. (p.344) ... The inner consciousness must be awakened through the grace of God. Through this awakening a man goes into samadhi. He often forgets that he hasa body. He gets rid of his attachment to "women and gold" and does not enjoy any talk unless it is about God. Worldly talk gives him pain. Through the awakening of the inner consciousness one realizes the all-pervading consciousness (p.734).'
Madhusudan Saraswati details the process of spiritual growth in his Gudhartha Dipika
on Bhagavad-Gita as
'Steadfastness in selfless works comes first; from that follows purification of the mind;thereafter the renunciation of all actions, led by control of sense organs etc.; then comes steadfastness in devotion to the Lord, together with vichara on the Upanisadic sentences.
From that comes steadfastness in the Knowledge of Reality.