https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-meditating-on-rock-2597205/Photo by Felipe Borges.

The aim of rational spirituality is the attainment of free consciousness or enlightenment

Spirituality without religion is available to all in their daily lives.

Bheemaray.K. Janagond
Published in
5 min readApr 9, 2022

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Is religious spirituality real?

Rational spirituality is the path of non-dualistic Theravada Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. According to these two spiritual practices, human consciousness is one and indivisible.

Rational spirituality does not depend upon religious faith or belief in God. This may look strange to some. Both the rational spiritual life and the practice of meditation supporting it are natural. There is nothing supernatural in rational spirituality.

Rational spirituality supported by meditation has the aim of liberating human beings from suffering in their daily life.

Human suffering results from negative emotions like anger, hate, jealousy, despair, inferiority complex and tragedy, disease, and death.

Believers’ spiritual goal is to meet and live with God in heaven in peace and ecstasy or to merge their souls with the universal soul called God.

Rationalists’ spiritual goal is to free consciousness from the illusory self or the ego or ‘I’- thoughts, emotions, and desires-the contents of consciousness and deliberately restore consciousness to its pristine purity. Pure consciousness is the source of mental calm and bliss, as “Consciousness is intrinsically free of self.” The self-thoughts, joy, sensations, anger, hate, jealousy, and so on- is like momentary and repetitive wave on the ocean of consciousness and will disappear if we search and are aware or mindful of it. The self is an illusion.

The reality is human consciousness. I am conscious as long as I live. Belief in the human soul, God, and heaven or hell is not a prerequisite for spiritual life and the practice of meditation to free one’s consciousness from its contents described as the illusory self. Consciousness is primary and thought, emotions, sensations, and desires arise later like fleeting images on it

The well-known Indian Vedantic mystic and sage, Ramana Maharshi defines, in his book, Who Am I, who a human being is:

“1. Who Am I?

The gross body which is composed of the seven humours(dhatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz., the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz., sound, touch, colour, taste and odour, I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz., the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion and procreation, which have as their respective functions, speaking, moving, grasping, excreting and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects and in which there are no objects and no functionings, I am not.

2. If I am none of these, then who am I? After negating all of the above mentioned as “not this, “not this”, that Awareness which alone remains-that I am.

3. What is the nature of Awareness? The nature of Awareness is Existence,-Consciousness-Bliss.”

Human consciousness, also called awareness or bliss or existence is the reality.

Self-transcendence is the goal

“It is by ceasing to cling to the contents of consciousness- to our thoughts, moods, and desires-that we make progress. ….. The freedom from self that is both the goal and the foundation of spiritual life is coincident with normal perception and cognition- though, as I have already said, this can be difficult to realize.”-Sam Harris, Waking Up.

Self-transcendence is the goal of meditation practice. Pure consciousness is the outcome of self-transcendence and the source of happiness.

You have to achieve self-transcendence to have free consciousness so that you will be at peace with your mind from moment to moment in the present. This mental state is the result of the practice of “mindfulness” (clear awareness) in Buddhist terminology. Buddhists call their meditation method the Vipassana(insight) method of meditation and Advaita Vedantins call their meditation method self-inquiry.

Good food, good health, wealth, friendship, and harmonious family relationship are normal sources of different forms of happiness. But these forms of happiness are fleeting, elusive, and not long-lasting and hence we feel the lack of something in our life and experience suffering.

Suffering is with us as a fact of life. We can conquer it through meditation practice of transcending ourselves. Meditation enables us to gradually break the walls of the prison of thinking, emotions, moods, despair, etc.,-all contents, pleasant or unpleasant, of consciousness. We should not be obsessed with the contents of consciousness.

Sam Harris, the American philosopher, and veteran meditation practice guru raises the eternal question of human happiness in his book, Waking Up:

“Is there a form of happiness beyond the mere repetition of pleasure and avoidance of pain? Is there a happiness that does not depend upon having one’s favorite foods available, or friends and loved ones within arm’s reach, or good books to read, or something to look forward to on the weekend? Is it possible to be happy before anything happens, before one’s desires are gratified, in spite of life’s difficulties, in the very midst of physical pain, old age, disease, and death?”

Sages and mystics attained self-transcendence and a durable form of happiness or bliss. A layman can also attain self-transcendence and happiness to the degree of his practice of meditation.

It is beyond doubt that the Indian sages, mystics, and saints practiced meditation for long periods in caves without the essential facilities of normal human life and achieved illumination and happiness.

We can relieve ourselves of suffering by being meditatively aware or witness of things as they are. “That which is aware of sadness is not sad; that which is aware of fear is not fearful.”

Real peace of mind and happiness

Sam Harris answers the question:

“………just the ability to meditate-to rest as consciousness for a few moments prior to the arising of the next thought-can offer a profound relief from mental suffering.” “ …….and those moments can increase in both number and duration with practice.”

That this form of happiness is available to even a layman in both pleasant or unpleasant situations in life is a paradox. But it is the truth. Meditation practice enables you to prove the truth that you can achieve long-lasting happiness. Meditation deserves to be your life-long practice.

Happiness becomes available to a human being daily from moment to moment in the present if he frees, through meditation, his consciousness from its contents from moment to moment in the present. But there can be no permanent state of mental well-being or happiness that can only be progressive.

Sam Harris is proud of the two secular Indian systems of Theravada Buddhist and Advaita Vedantic meditation and illumination and has popularised the two through his book, Waking Up, and his App, Waking Up. He has been a practicing meditator for a long time

Sam Harris concludes that there can be no final “permanent state of enlightenment” out of the practice of spiritual life and that the human’s enlightenment is “a capacity to be free in this moment in the midst of whatever is happening.”

I have been practicing meditation exercises in terms of rational spirituality rendering myself free from the illusory self and attaining freedom from mental suffering and mental equanimity in my experience, pleasant or unpleasant, from time to time every day.

You can do this for your happiness.

(For detailed practical guided meditation and meditation exercises, the reader may visit Sam Harris’s App, Waking Up.)

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Bheemaray.K. Janagond
ILLUMINATION

Writer on rational and humanist outlook on life and personal improvement