How Do We Know Whether We Are Progressing Spiritually? How Do We Know Whether We Are Progressing Spiritually?
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Illustration by Joanna Grochocka
Wellbeing

How Do We Know Whether We Are Progressing Spiritually?

Marshall Govindan Satchidananda
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How do we know whether we are progressing spiritually? This is an important question which every spiritual aspirant asks themselves at one time or another. It is also not an easy answer, because the spiritual path is progressive, and because the spirit has no form, it is difficult to measure. So, before defining progress, let us define what we mean by the ‘spiritual’.

In Yoga, we talk about the human dilemma of egoism, of identifying with the body and mind. We refer to five bodies: the physical body (anna maya kosha, literally, the food body), the vital body (prana maya kosha, which animates the physical, and is the seat of emotions), the mental body (man omaya kosha, including subconscious, memory, five senses, recognition faculties), the intellectual body (vinjnana maya kosha, including our reasoning faculties), and the spiritual body (ananda maya kosha, literally, the bliss body, or soul, which is pure consciousness, the Witness.) Ordinarily, because of egoism, one thinks and acts with the belief that ‘I’ am the body, or ‘I’ am my emotions, or ‘I’ am my memories or ideas. For example, one says:

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Prana, or the Subtle Life Force Prana, or the Subtle Life Force
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From the “Przekrój” archive
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Prana, or the Subtle Life Force

Marshall Govindan Satchidananda

The Siddhas referred to the basic energy underlying all activities, both physical and mental, as ‘prana’, or subtle life force.

The only physiological function which is both voluntary and involuntary is breathing. Breathing can be controlled consciously by the mind or it can be allowed to function automatically like other physiological processes, such­ as digestion, under the control of the body. Breathing is thus an important bridge between the mind and the body, and can influence them both.

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