To experience God is the overarching goal of human life. This experience is found by undergoing spiritual practices, such as prayer, meditation, devotion, surrender, selfless service, and the practice of universal love. This experience transforms the aspirant, imbuing his or her life with meaning, purpose, peace, and abiding joy. Anyone and everyone has access to this sublime experience.
What is mysticism? What mysticism is not.
This is an age of illusion. Values are topsy turvy. The inept are rewarded; the corrupt get ahead. Con artists succeed, and poseurs attain positions of prominence. In many instances, this mentality has infiltrated contemporary spirituality. Many authentic spiritual traditions have seemingly gone underground, while a kind of bogus spirituality flourishes. Authentic spiritual traditions are defined as those that enable a person to experience the ultimate reality, or God. These are most readily, but not exclusively, found in the mystical elements of the world’s major religions.
If a person’s goal is invoking God to acquire money, fame, power, status, or possessions, then they will be right at home in today’s world of bogus spirituality. If a person’s goal is God alone, they should be wary of the many deceptions and lies that are often perpetuated in the name of religion and spirituality. We have all been duped by the occasional swindlers masquerading as holy persons and spiritual teachers.
“Seek first the kingdom of God” — Jesus
Yet, oftentimes aspirants embarking on their spiritual journey do not pursue an authentic spiritual path. Instead they delve into “higher things,” or they get involved with secondary goals that have nothing to do with God. Some want to use God to enhance their worldly position, increase their bank accounts, obtain material goods, or improve their health. They thus squander what authentic spirituality has to offer, which is self-transcendence, not self-improvement.
Because the goal of authentic spiritual traditions is to experience God, a spiritual aspirant is best served by acquiring a keen sense of discrimination. This will empower him or her to be as sharp as a tack when traversing their spiritual path. By utilizing this discrimination, many pseudo-spiritual traps can be avoided.
An aspirant should further develop the ability to discern legitimate from questionable spiritual paths. During the course of spiritual discipline a person’s divine eye (divya chakshu) opens up, enabling him or her to see things as they really are, stripped of all hype, illusion, and emotional projection. This ability allows an aspirant to see through the many deceptions and diversionary approaches that are often touted in the name of spirituality. This sense of discernment is one of the aspirant’s greatest assets on their spiritual journey.
Personal spiritual experience is at the core of all religions, but it is often buried under layers of ritual and dogma. Yet every religion contains a mystical element. It is up to the resolute spiritual seeker to find and follow this mystical component and forge a path that leads straight to God, nimbly sidestepping all the ruses along the way.