“I don’t want people to think they can attain realization simply by listening to others or by reading books. They must practice what they read and hear.” — Patamahansa Yogananda
“You must know the difference between imagination, theoretical knowledge, and true realization. Could you nourish yourself by only listening to a talk on food? To know food only theoretically is to always remain hungry.
You must eat to satisfy hunger. So he who seeks new doctrines continuously but does not put them into practice in his life is in continual spiritual starvation.” — Patamahansa Yogananda (1)
Apply the Learning
Could this be where Nike got their slogan, “Just do it?” You must apply what you learn. Push your boundaries. You can listen to exceptional teachers, but they only show what you can do if you put the knowledge into action.
If you own a library full of books about higher states of consciousness, this will help you prepare. You can listen to podcasts, books on tape, and even attend lectures. These resources will give you knowledge and theory.
However, if you don’t apply the learning, your knowledge is of no benefit. If you don’t practice, you won’t open the doors to expanding awareness. You won’t open the doors to other states of consciousness unless you practice techniques to do so. The hard part is figuring out how to apply what you learn.
Attain Realization Through Small Steps
Long retreats are just one way you can learn and progress. Most of our growth comes in small incremental steps. Your nervous system is a sophisticated, delicate instrument, and it needs time to normalize learning and shifts in perception.
Small steps are an excellent approach to spiritual exploration. Learn and practice seated and moving mindfulness meditation techniques. They take as little as 1 minute, apply the learning. Even a few moments of silence and rest will enable you to return to the activity more focused. Try it.
Pick one type of spiritual practice from the eightfold path. If you don’t know what these are, follow the link. The important thing is to start. You know it’s vital to apply what you learn to obtain excellent results.
Avoid Spiritual Fast Food
The problem behind spiritual stagnation is counterfeit spirituality. If your spiritual path is absent from any methods that affect awareness, perception, and consciousness, then there is no way to apply the learning.
The doctrine and dogma of organized religion are the fast food of spirituality. It tastes good but does not provide nourishment. That’s why you need to make sure you are using practices that produce results.
How a Follower Differs from a Spiritual Explorer
A follower needs continual programming to solidify the paradox of ignoring the truth. Most go every week, and some need to go more often. It’s repeating and memorizing doctrine and dogma to overcome the facts that threaten their worldview.
Being a follower is about theology and philosophy. It centers around stories of Sages and Avatars. They learn about those who experienced some great awakening and transformation, but these stories are absent from any processes that can transform consciousness. Philosophies, doctrine, and dogma are distractions from meaningful self-discovery.
Western organized religion is glorified salesmanship designed to have you believe something mystical will happen after you die. Afterlife rewards get you nowhere while you are living. Substituting mythology for action isn’t practicing; it’s accepting a counterfeit to keep you from facing the driving forces behind your spiritual desires.
If you practice organized religion, you must keep going back because there’s no spiritual nourishment. Western organized religion is the fast food of true spirituality. It tastes like food, but it’s only a food-like substitute. They can’t sell you anything if you walk your path and develop your practice.
A spiritual explorer is someone who learns to apply the learning. It’s not enough to learn about the tools of consciousness, and you must also use them. Those who practice are the only ones who attain realization.
Methods that Affect Consciousness
Everyone has their way of awakening, and each of us has spiritual gifts to aid in this quest. These gifts are sleeping in our DNA. Awakening these gifts is the key, and to do this, you must apply what you learn. It opens our minds to new potentials.
The dimensions of time and space are not barriers to our consciousness. We do not exist between our ears. The real you, the person you talk to inside your head, have no limits. Our consciousness has a foundation of pure awareness, enabling us to access higher states of consciousness. All we need are the keys to open them, and these tools exist. We call these tools spiritual technologies.
The research of consciousness and learning to access these spiritual gifts was the central goal of many ancient cultures. The investigation of consciousness is something many ancient cultures thought was necessary, and we enjoy the benefits of generations of research. These early pioneers give us several tools for exploring consciousness.
We use a blended learning model incorporating those processes which are safe and reliable. We are not the first to use this eclectic approach. For example, Gurdjieff’s method was to adopt techniques proven effective. The research of these early pioneers stands the test of time.
Practices that Produce Results
Spiritual technologies are methods for exploring human consciousness; they comprise a diverse body of practical mental tools. You can use these tools to develop your potential, expand awareness, and reach higher states of consciousness.
These tools differ significantly from religion. They do not require faith or belief in any religious doctrine. Anyone can use these processes to develop their full potential. All you need to do is follow the process, and it’s just like following the recipe for baking a cake. If you combine the right ingredients in the right way and you get something delicious.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our blended learning method. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. They are repeatable processes, and several produce measurable effects on our physiology. These changes include increased brainwave coherence, lower heart rate, and increased skin resistance. Changes like this prove these partitions of consciousness differ significantly from waking, dreaming, and sleeping.
We divide these tools into four major categories:
Everyone can use these methods to create their unique spiritual path, and you can start with any of these methods. The more of them you use, the faster your progress.
How To Apply What you Learn
The first step from the researcher to spiritual explorer is often the hardest. We don’t want to make a mistake. So, the best way to avoid big mistakes is to use practices that produce results from the list of recommended spiritual technologies.
Use your smartphone. Set a reminder to do something. It can be as simple as 1 minute of mindfulness meditation or one yoga pose. Make this a good habit.
How To Attain Realization
Realization often comes slowly in small incremental steps. Sure, we are looking for the giant leaps, but we miss most of the growth if we don’t learn to spot the small steps. The spiritual journal mentioned above is one of the best tools to help you spot incremental change and keep you on track. It will also help you spot the small steps of realization.
Walking the path requires finding methods that affect awareness and consciousness. You can gain a lot of knowledge from studying, reading, and listening. But all this knowledge will go to waste. You must apply what you learn. So, find a resource or teacher that can give you one or more of the spiritual technologies listed above. Your focus must be on practices that produce results. It is the only way to attain realization. Don’t get stuck in theory. Don’t be afraid to start. Just do it.
Thanks for reading this article. We welcome your opinion, so don’t hesitate to comment or email us. We hope it provides some food for thought. You can find more mind-opening topics on our blog.
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(1) Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda, by Paramahansa Yogananda 1980
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia