In my life I have focused on these styles of spiritual practice:
- contemplation on God.
- practices focused on divine love
- practices focused on transforming ego leading to spiritual surrender.
These are the practices I neglected: a) praying b) rituals c) meditation d) practices focused on chakras and kundalini.
There are also many esoteric practices focused on the development of mental powers but I don’t consider them as spiritual practices. I have no interest in them. I have never practiced them.
On many occasions I have said that spirituality is about love. I still believe that. I have also said that spiritual philosophy is only a vehicle. Contemplation on God is an essential practice but it cannot be the central practice for most people. Devotional love brings us “home” but it cannot be the central doctrine either, I am afraid.
In my mature age, after a lifetime of experiences, I think that overcoming egoism should be the central doctrine of spirituality. All those practices mentioned above are aids towards becoming less selfish human beings.
Why is there evil? There is evil because human beings are selfish. Egoism is the source of evil. I have seen how egoist people harm their families and societies.
What I have learned by experience is that egoism is very hard to overcome. The spiritual practices help but ultimately we learn our lessons after going through hard times in life.
In my younger days, I didn’t think there were tests in life. I thought everything followed the laws of karma. My “all-knowing” but ignorant younger ego pontificated on the nuances of the karma theory. Then, I realized that, in addition to karma, there are “special education” experiences designed to accelerate our spiritual growth. Now, in my “know nothing” state of mind I realize that there are tests in life as well.
God will stretch us. God will test our patience. God will test our devotion. This is the type of thinking prevalent in the Middle East. I grew up in Anatolia. It is undeniable that I was influenced by the Anatolian thinking in my formative years. In my adult years I have given a lot of thought to the karma theory. But, honestly, I admit that I am now confused about the karma theory. I cannot explain why good people suffer so much.
As reported by sages, enlightenment, liberation and ultimately salvation are the special gifts by God conditional on your total spiritual surrender. It is clear that you will not receive these gifts until you surrender your ego.
Overcoming egoism is not the same thing as surrendering ego. Overcoming egoism is a realistic goal. We leave the ultimate sacrifice to the saints. We can work on becoming less selfish. That will be our mini-salvation as individuals as well as society.