blogs / philosophy

Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Harrison-Ford-as-Indiana-Jones-in-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” – Bob Dylan

Anybody who saw this recent vlog will know I’ve been trying to make some small sacrifices lately in order to make space in my life for spiritual growth. Actually, anyone who’s been reading this blog from the start will know that documenting these transitions is a recurring theme of this whole project.

I’m sure you’ll be glad to know it’s succeeding: in fact, I’ve actually been overwhelmed by the results. When you make these sacrifices for the sake of deepening your relationship with the Supreme, the reciprocation is profound.

In sanskrit, these sacrifices are called tapasya – voluntary austerities  – and history is littered with great personalities who performed them (Jesus, Brahma & Buddha to name but three). They are the cornerstone & foundation of any attempt to live a spiritual life in the material world.

Human life offers us all the benefits of an intellect which is vastly superior to any other creature on earth: it is a brilliant opportunity for spiritual growth, and to squander it by  having our every move dictated to us by material sense enjoyment strips us of our humanity and stops us from reaching our true potential – take some time to observe the daily routine of the nearest household pet and suddenly the ability of modern society to  overlook it’s own shortcomings seems genuinely impressive.

Sacrifices like these don’t need to be excessive or painful, but practised regularly and with expert guidance they help us to control the urges of the material senses and focus clearly on the true purpose of life.

After all, nobody likes to be in a car when the driver is distracted, and nobody likes hearing a pilot slur drunkenly over the tannoy at the start of a flight. Well guess what? We are the drivers of or own vehicle on the winding roads of life and we are trusting the spiritual guides who we follow to pilot all of us through take-off, turbulence and landing. They – and we – need to be capable of making that journey safely and bringing as many others with us as possible.

What usually holds us back is a lack of faith in the process we are following: after all, nobody swaps a superior situation for an inferior one in any walk of life. We need to find an enjoyment which is so superior to mundane sense gratification that to pursue it by living a life of tapasya is a total no-brainer. If you haven’t found that happiness yet, then your search isn’t over.

It’s a tried and tested formula, and like anything on the spiritual path it’s far easier to follow the examples of those who are successful than it is to fumble blindly down the back alleys and dead-ends of our own speculation: history tells us that someone who is capable of performing regular austerity for a higher purpose is far less likely to be dragged down or knocked off course as they traverse the rocky road of spiritual growth.

With this in mind I’ve trawled through books of ancient wisdom to make this video for you on the six best things to avoid to make spiritual life a whole lot easier.

Abstinence is a leap of faith for sure, but in times of doubt just study carefully the lives of saints, sages and enlightened souls and ask yourself this: how many of them ever regretted giving up meat, sleep, sex or alcohol?

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

  1. Thank you for this article! And I enjoyed watching the embedded video! There’s an amazing amount of similarity to Catholic spirituality here. First of all, in Christianity, the idea of sacrifice is key, so much central that God’s essence which is love is sacrificial love. What meaning does love have if it is not other-oriented? And if one looks toward the Other, one gives up/sacrifices focusing on the self. Nothing can exist without the metaphysical dimension of sacrifice. A rock cannot even be a rock without “giving up” being a tree, a flower, a bird, etc. Sacrificial love is at the heart of the universe and at the heart of Christianity. Catholic spirituality also, in my view, adds a dose of humility to the Protestant approach. The Protestant approach is to rely on the primacy of the Bible, but thereby relying on one’s own self for its interpretation. Catholics take the Bible as God’s Word but also appeal to the teaching of the Catholic Church for guidance. That is not surprising since the Catholic Church decided which books would actually end up being in the Bible. These teachings which have been formulated by saints over the course of centuries. These spiritual leaders are the “gurus” for Catholics. There are also spiritual directors in the present day. In particular, one can gain spiritual direction in the confessional, when one confesses one’s failings, one’s sins, to a priest and then gets advice about how one can become a better person. It takes a great deal of humility to do that. But it’s a beautiful experience and the peace that follows is incomparable. Peace and blessings to all. Keep up your lovely work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks for such a wonderful & informative comment! Answered a lot of questions I had, particularly about confession. I love discovering the connection between so many ‘different’ traditions! Really appreciate you taking the time to write, hope we get to connect again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. I’ve given up read meat for Lent and I think it is something i will continue. I’ve been trying to give up chicken, but I keep back sliding. I do want to give up completely for the new year. Thanks for this post! I love it when the universe reassures me that I am on the right path 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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