My life is dedicated to spiritual growth in every way that I can imagine. Yet, there are many moments when I suffer deeply from doubts. Doubts about my beliefs, doubts about having all the answers given freely by my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda, and all the great Masters.
It’s easy to believe what you’ve experienced directly, but this creation is so much bigger than that and we humans have struggled for millennia to understand it in a way that is larger than our little selves. No matter how clearly the great Masters try to explain it to us, we see it through our own lens and it’s bound to be a bit off until our lens expands to include the whole of creation.
On my path, the path of yoga, doubt is not a problem. Doubts are vanquished by the swords of 1) experience and 2) love. The great Masters of every tradition share the answers to life’s perplexing questions in discourse or hidden in sacred texts, but it ultimately comes down to you and your own path. This is why Paramhansa Yogananda referred to spiritual awakening as “Self-realization.”
In listening to the great Masters, it’s hard not to slip into dogmatic behaviors and beliefs based on what they’ve said because we haven’t yet experienced it ourselves. The forms and trappings of religion naturally develop around the wisdom of a great Master. It’s human nature and it has it’s value and place. The source of my doubts are a combination of 1) being caught up in outer trappings and 2) not yet experiencing something for myself.
In an effort and exercise not to forget, here is a list of what I know, based on my own experience:
The things that make me feel good without consequence:
- Kriya yoga.
- Eating healthy, vital foods.
- Moving my body.
- Being kind.
- Listening to good music.
- Reading stories about people that I admire or beautiful prose.
- Focusing my attention at the point between my eyebrows.
- Opening my heart.
- Playing with kids.
- Meditating in sacred places.
- Listening to the sound of AUM.
- Feeling energy move in my spine.
- Giving love.
- Sacred intimacy.
- Feeling gratitude.
- Being in nature.
- Being creative.
- Listening to people and nature.
- Getting enough rest.
- Working hard.
- Communing with God and the Masters within me.
- Helping others in my work.
Things that feel good for a minute, but sometimes suck later:
- Eating rich, delicious food.
- Drinking wine or beer.
- Watching movies or shows about things that don’t matter.
Things that make me feel terrible:
- Being impatient.
- Being distracted.
- Being bored.
- Worrying about success.
- Doubting myself.
- Doubting others.
- Doubting God.
- Getting angry.
- Being lazy.
- Caring about what others think.
- Not sleeping.
- Fear of violence.
- Poverty consciousness (sense of lack).
- Fear of negative energy and entities.
- Feeling guilty.
This is a personal exercise, not meant to be some definitive list. I expect these lists to change as I change. If they don’t, that’s a sign that I am not adding new experiences and might need to make a change.
When I experience doubts, this is my yoga. The incredible, inspiring philosophy and science behind it –how energy moves in the universe, what is a soul, what is consciousness, the law of karma, why are we here– these are the things that swirl around the more simple truths of being kind, loving, and authentic. Doing the things that make you feel good without consequence.
There are many people in my life who can get behind the simple version of yoga. The more complex and esoteric aspects are a bit much for others. I’ve had enough experience of the more subtle energies in me and around me to dedicate my life to deepening my experiences. But, doubts seem to come along from time to time and when they do, I like to sit back and remember the simple truths.