Evolving From Spiritual Tourist To Seeker

Evolving From Spiritual Tourist To Seeker.                                                                                    Speaking Tree, October 19, 2009. Janki Santoke.

Some people call themselves spiritual, some call themselves materialistic. What’s the difference? What is the hallmark of a spiritual person? Peace is said to be the hallmark of spirituality. Hence there is interest in meditation, seclusion, and spending quiet time in a place of beauty, as these are promoters of peace. But surely spirituality cannot be place dependent. It is far greater than that. A peace that comes and goes at a certain place or in a
certain time cannot be stable. Any temporary phenomenon must come under the title of materiality. So mere peace cannot be the yardstick.

Take the contention that spiritual people are those who believe in God. What about those who, though not believing in God, seem to be living more or less ideal lives? Not professing any interest or devotion to God, they go about being a beacon light to society. Surely it is better to live an ideal life than mutter the name of the Lord.

What use is it going to places of worship while being mean or uncaring towards fellow-beings? Maybe spiritual people are those who believe in goodness rather than in God. If you live a noble life you are spiritual, regardless of whether or not you believe in God.

If we were to accept an individual’s goodness as his spirituality, then we seem only to have shifted the question to what is goodness. And badness. An impossible question to answer! We can tell, at a pinch, what is better or worse but not what is good. Who is a good person? What is the absolute measure for good?

Maybe spirituality is about getting better. Being better would mean being
more unselfish. Spirituality is the striving to improve oneself. If you are good, but do not conceive better, you stagnate spiritually. Another, not as good, but striving, will no doubt catch up and overtake you. Philosophically, it does not matter so much where you are but where you are heading. The hunter Valmiki became Sage Valmiki. Sinners will be deemed righteous, says the Gita, “for they have rightly resolved”.

Spiritual people are those who have resolved to improve. Where does the desire to improve culminate? What is the end point? Perfection is said to be Enlightenment, Self-realisation, the merger with Self. It is the state of a Buddha, Christ, Rama, Mohammed and all those revered divine personalities. To be spiritual then must mean the desire for Self-realisation,
the desire to merge in the Self. That desire, accompanied by a systematic plan or programme to reach there is what is being spiritual.

Having a plan or programme for one’s spiritual evolution is as important as the desire. Anything is achieved only through systematic effort. To say that you wish to become rich and not have any programme is meaningless. No one achieves anything with just a desire. It is only the starting point. Work and effort must follow.

Desire without work is daydreaming. Work without a plan is running round in circles. Hence a person who is spiritual will want to improve. You will know what you mean by ‘improvement’. You will have a plan to achieve that end. And finally you will work in accordance with your plan. Only then can you be called a spiritual seeker. Else you are a spiritual tourist, enjoying a bit of a vacation from normal life! Isn’t that what is materiality?

16 Responses to Evolving From Spiritual Tourist To Seeker

  1. My personal experience in evolution is that I lose all emotional feelings. I am worried it should not affect my performing the worldly duties to my family and friends. I am not sure if it is OK.

    • janki says:

      The Bhagavad Gita is pretty categorical in saying that as one grows spiritually, emotional feelings of love increase. Infact it talks of love as being the yardstick of spiritual growth. Any diminution in love would contra-indicate evolution. However, are you sure it is emotional feelings you are losing? Or is it emotional excitement?

      Another point to consider is that duties are not done out of emotion but out of intellectual conviction. Whatever one feels, one is obligated to do what is right.

      • Mahesh Shetti says:

        Is it true that duties are done out of intellectual conviction? Can’t one intellectually convince oneself that if he/she dies, who will look after his/her family – they will find their way, then why should he/she keep bothering about them. let him/her do whatever suits him/her. But that doesnot happen because of emotional attachment – you start seeing yourself in your beloved ones.

        • janki says:

          In Vedanta, intellect is defined as discrimination. Mind is emotions. Right action comes from intellect.

          Some times when the mind has a strong desire, it holds the intellect at ransom, as it were. It forces reasoning in the line of the desire. Here discrimination is perverted. This is known as justification. This is what you are referring to. This is not one’s intellectual conviction but the very opposite.

          On the other hand, the mind on its own will not do its duties. For instance, one’s mind is attached to one’s child. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will do its duty. It may not do unpleasant duties like reprimanding the child. This will be detrimental to the child. Further, the mind is myopic. In its attainment to the child, it may ignore other duties it owes to others. Character in a person is being able to do what ought to be done, when it ought to be done, whether one likes it or not.

      • Gilbert says:

        A little rationality lifts the quality of the debate here. Thanks for contuibrting!

  2. Shilpa says:

    Got better insight after reading it.

  3. niloufer says:

    My thoughts exactly Jankiji. So even a heathen like me has hope!

    Congratulations! Love the peaceful, clean, uncluttered look of the blog. Can we have an option to register for regular alerts.

    • janki says:

      Then I wish this world more heathens!
      Thanks for the feedback.
      And yes, one can register for updates. The option is on the home page

      • Michelle says:

        Dear Viswanath,Excellent questions.1. When we say I have unosterodd , surely the intellect is the object. There is a witness (saakshi) behind, who is the subject.2. Information conveyed through language comes under a different pramaana called sabda pramaana. Here, the sound or letters by themselves do not convey any information. You should know the language to get the information. This is not pratyaksha pramaana, though it depends on pratyaksha as an instrument.With regards,Gomu.

  4. Payday Loan says:

    Pleasant Post. This enter helped me in my school assignment. Thanks Alot

  5. Christine says:

    It’s a pleasure to find such raonitality in an answer. Welcome to the debate.

  6. sujitha says:

    Very nice article.Thanks a lot.

  7. Seko says:


    This piece of reading has brought my exact spiritual practice to light as I question it daily. I am sometimes torn between the spiritual world and the material world as I feel my wife wants the best of both but I do feel it’s too conflicting. How do I take charge of my own spirituality and leave the material world and keep my marriage in a joyful place?

    • janki says:

      Why not follow your path your way and she follows her path her way… And respect each other and each other’s path. Life will be a joyful journey together

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