When I first thought about writing this post I considered using “four cornerstones” in the title but it turned out to be inadequate. On deeper reflection I saw that there were seven requirements that were essential to consistently propel a seeker forward on their path.
Desire is the most fundamental requirement in order to be motivated and for the making of consistent effort on a spiritual path. Of course it is assumed here that the seeker is predisposed to some or other degree to follow a spiritual path in the first place. Desire smooths the way, eggs us on around the next corner, overcomes obstacles, makes for easier meditation etc.
There should be a source of suitable, spiritual knowledge to draw upon on a daily basis to provide the material for study and meditation so as to increase understanding and realization and provoke positive thought throughout the day. This is the food that is needed to sustain spiritual life.
Some may want to include prayer under this heading but I am putting prayer in a category of its own. It is beyond the scope of this post to go into all the different types of meditation. I am using the term here in a very general sense to refer to the time spent in inner silence for the purpose of experiencing various things such as virtues (eg. sweetness), qualities (eg. love), ones own body (eg. for those who are ungrounded), ones own “heart” (Self), one’s Higher Self, Saint, Master, God etc. This inner silent space is also the place to consider the material that has been studied and that may need some deeper thought or intuition to make sense of it and realize it at a deeper level. It is also the place for the expression of our good wishes, in the form of spiritual feelings such as love for others.
I am using the term prayer here to refer to a more “verbal/spoken” type of mental process. Examples of this are the making of requests for healing or other “favours” to Saints, Angels, Masters, God etc. either for oneself, others or mankind in general. Prayer can be used to call on Heavenly Beings to influence the world for the better.
It stands to reason that to have a better spiritual life it will help if we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. Life can be difficult enough at times without the current of returning bad karma adding to already difficult situations. In any case the flow of good vibrations outward is a blessing in itself and raises consciousness further.
It is very helpful to have one or many like-minded individuals to share things with, bounce things off and generally be in contact with whether in regular meetings or online. It is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.
Service is often overlooked as an important part of spiritual life. The blessing that is provided by service cannot be overestimated. It is in any case the natural way of being, whether it is service of the mind giving rise to a radiation of spiritual energy from Self or physical service resulting in the upliftment of others. In the imperfect world that we live in and with our own imperfections on top of this, service may not seem that natural to us but it is the Self’s nature to radiate outward constantly, the only question being, what are the properties of that radiation? It is here that we need to transform the energy that we are sending out by transforming our thoughts, feelings, attitudes etc. into those that are beneficial to ourselves and others. What greater goal is there than the upliftment of all life?
What if I don’t have some or all of the above requirements, you may ask? I don’t believe that the majority of spiritual seekers have all of these requirements but that they are a clear map and destination to aim for. Each of us have our own particular toolbox that we were born with and have developed and it is these tools that we have to work with on our spiritual journey. As we move forward we can enhance and add to these tools and so our attainment will be greater and greater as we progress.
If I were to consider adding an eighth requirement to this list it would be perseverance. Really, the only time we may consider ourselves unproductive on a spiritual path is when we leave off and stop making effort. I am not including in this the rather barren times we occasionally go through which lead to an inevitable breakthrough. If we persevere, we will progress always.
These seven requirements are given as a guide only and no individual should feel that they have to measure up to them or to someone else on a spiritual path. Each individual has to make their own earnest and honest effort for themselves and if this is done that is success for that individual.