Don't We Need Practices
Designed for us Today?
We must have spiritual
teachings appropriate for our changing circumstances, wherever we
may live. For this it is essential that we follow a living spiritual
tradition, not a dead and stereotyped belief which ties us to some
by-gone era. Yet as the goal of the spiritual life is the Eternal,
the teaching must be grounded in the Timeless Reality and not merely
be a fad of the moment. The forms we follow should be based on the
Eternal Truth but adjusted according to the needs of the times.
The universal teaching is a
science of Self-realization. We are first of all who we are. To know
ourselves is the most important thing, whatever our cultural or
geographical background. That Self transcends time, space and
objectivity. It is the Eternal Presence. Yet it is important to
connect with a tradition of Self-knowledge, as a tradition allows a
broad approach so that we can find a teacher and teaching suitable
for our temperament.
creates a certain culture and way of life. It creates an awareness
of our posture, from which the science of asana or yogic postures
arose. It creates an awareness of breath, from which the science of
pranayama arose. It creates an awareness of speech, from which the
Sanskrit language arose.
It creates a science of
health, from which Ayurveda arose. It creates an understanding of
symbol and ritual, from which the science of puja (Hindu ritual)
arose. A culture of Self-knowledge is useful and this is the essence
of Sanatana Dharma. Naturally it has to be continually adjusted
individually and collectively, but it has always done this.
What the West, and each part
of the world for that matter, needs is a living spiritual tradition,
which goes back to enlightened and Self-realized teachers. Since the
West has not preserved such a tradition in its culture, it must
connect up with traditions from the parts of the world which are
still alive. Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma, offering such enlightened
traditions, without insisting upon the adaptation of an exclusive
religious identity, is a good basis for this.