Inner Growth – Spiritual Progress
The past half-century of growing prosperity and the progressive emergence of individuality have led more and more people to express interest in self-development rather than the exclusive pursuit of material and social achievement. Thus, usage of the terms personal growth, psychological growth and spiritual progress have become increasingly common, although there is little agreement regarding the actual meaning of these words.
In fact, human beings have always been growing personally or psychologically, even those who are almost entirely absorbed in struggling for material survival or aspiring for higher social achievements. But that growth has been most often subconscious, as a result of the trials and errors of life experience, rather than as a result of a conscious process of self-development. A conscious effort at developing our personalities requires a clear conception of what personality is and how it can be altered.
While we are all fairly clear about what constitutes a normal healthy and comfortable social existence, when it comes to psychological and spiritual progress there is a great deal of confusion. What does it mean to grow psychologically? What does it mean to progress spiritually? By psychological growth, some people mean they want greater freedom to do what they want, pursue their interests and live as they want. Others want to understand themselves better, develop personal capacities, and experience new things. Some want to search within themselves for some deeper, truer self or psyche.
So too, spiritual growth means a great many different things to different people: to be of service to others, pray, meditate, acquire healing powers, read and understand philosophic and religious texts. Others want direct spiritual experience: to expand their consciousness, feel the reality of God, commune with the universe, discover their souls or realize a higher state of knowledge and bliss. A real science of humanity needs to define and explain these concepts which are so central to the aspirations of millions of people.
Human Science is based on the premise that there is a spiritual dimension to reality which is the foundation and creative source of all that exists and that a progressive evolution in consciousness makes it possible for human beings to experience and express this spiritual dimension in their personal lives.
Spiritual experience makes us more aware of our oneness with other people. It helps us escape from the confines of our ego and see the world and other people through their eyes and from their point of view. Broadly speaking, progress that enhances the presence and expression of any or all of these qualities in the personality and life of a person may be regarded as forms of spiritual progress.
How Do We Know When We Are Growing Spiritually?
Here are some of the indications. We are growing spiritually when we recognise in ourselves:
- Patience: We are more patient and tolerant.
- Peace: We feel more calm and peaceful, even in the midst of other people and intensity activity.
- Silence: Our minds become settled. Thoughts are no longer insistent. We may even experience periods in which the mind is completely still.
- Equality: We do not react to disturbing events. We are capable of greater equanimity. We have the capacity to remain undisturbed without being indifferent.
- Knowledge: We understand the significance of all experiences that come to us and know how to grow or outgrow the need for them.
- Goodwill: We rejoice in the joy of others. We no longer feel jealousy, resentment or competition with others.
- Self-giving: We identify with others and aspire for their fulfillment more than for our own.
Research projects at MSS social science research, division of The Mother’s Service Society, a non-profit organization established in Pondicherry, India in 1970.