How can we know that we are progressing spiritually?
Question: How can we know that we are progressing spiritually?
Answer: Bhagavad-gita 02.16 states, nasato vidyate bhavo nabhavo vidyate satah. The material is characterised by change and the spiritual is characterised by constancy. The material keeps changing but the spiritual never changes. When we are in material consciousness, we will be shaken by the changes in this world. To the extent we become spiritual, we will not be disturbed by the changes.
This world is like an ocean where there will always be waves. A person in an ocean will continuously be going up and down due to the waves. However, if the person gets into a boat which is anchored, then the shaking will be much less. Similarly, in this material world, there will always be changes causing anxiety, but when we become spiritual and connect with the unchanging reality God, then it is like sitting in a boat that is anchored. We connect with God through yoga, especially bhakti yoga, and it is like anchoring ourselves to a higher reality. When we do this, the shaking will reduce even further.
The more spiritual we become, the calmer we will be. We will be concerned but not disturbed. It does not mean that we will become uncaring or irresponsible. We have to function in the world and need to respond appropriately to the changes. When there will be changes in our life, we will work to rectify the situation but won’t be personally threatened by the change. The level of anxiety, stress, agitation going down is first marker of our progress in spiritual life.
Also, it is important to note that anxiety and craving are two sides of the same coin. To the extent we become spiritual, our craving for material things will go down. In material consciousness, self-worth is determined by what we possess. When our craving for material enjoyment goes down this indicates spiritual progress. This is second marker of spiritual advancement.
On a positive side, when we progress spiritually, we will start experiencing inner joy and peace. This is the third marker of our spiritual progress.
The more we advance; spiritual consciousness will become more and more our home territory. We do not always remain at home. Sometimes we also go out for work but then come back home after some time. Similarly, when we are in spiritual consciousness, it does not mean that we do not carry out our material responsibilities. Just like we come back home after completing our work, we come back to the spiritual consciousness after completing our material responsibilities.
In this way, by the decrease of anxiety, the decrease of craving and increase of joy and happiness in the spiritual realm, we can understand that we are progressing spiritually.