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What Our Practice is Really For

what is spiritual practice for
Episode No. 153

In our psychologized culture, it’s easy to forget that spiritual practice is not a self-improvement program for creating a better version of small self. In this podcast Shambhavi reminds us of the radical nature of direct realization practice and what is really being asked of us if we decide to enter in fully. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast First Words

When we’re practicing in a tradition such as this, it’s very important to remember that we’re not trying to come up with a better version of ourselves. We’re not trying to improve our self. We’re not doing spiritual practice to have a self that will be more successful, necessarily. I mean, you might be, but that’s not why we’re doing it.

We’re not doing spiritual practice, presumably, to shore up our sense of goodness in an ordinary way. Or to reassure ourselves that somehow we’re good because we’re doing spiritual practice better than other people. We’re not trying to antidote feelings of insecurity with our spiritual practice. We’re trying to not shore up our sense of small self.

In fact, we’re trying to unlearn all the things that we do to shore up our sense of small self. We have this conviction—that we come in with through no fault of our own—that we’re separate, that we inhabit just these bodies, that we have our own consciousness, that we’re doing or should be doing important things, that something very important is at stake in how other people think about us. All of these things that we hold on to are obstacles in our practice. We’re not trying to just get a better version of that.

That would be what Swami Rudrananda called a “horizontal move.” So some people have a complaint about themselves that, “I don’t know who I am.” And they have some idea that by doing spiritual practice, they’re going to come up with some narrative or some sense of self that is confined and coherent.

We’re not trying to come up with a more coherent, more acceptable, more likable small me. That’s not the purpose of the practice. That’s the purpose that your karmas have assigned to you.