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The search for spiritual development is something very commendable in the human being, but we can easily fall into the traps of the ego.
Our binary mind sharply classifies all opposites, this is how we convince ourselves that there are activities or things that belong to the spiritual world and others are more mundane.
But the great spiritual teachers have emphasized that true spirituality is in how we approach worldly tasks on a daily basis.
The sage Shantideva declared, in his famous bookThe Bodhisattva path, that all happiness and joy are the consequence of celebrating other sentient beings and contributing to their well-being, while problems, tragedies and disasters are the consequence of attitudes that instead of serving others, serve only their own being, in such a way that actually serving other beings is as spiritual, if not more, than meditating, performing rituals or singing praises.
Understanding these teachings in these times where everything is governed by time, money and the human being is the center of everything, can be difficult. Individualism and mercantilism have torn the social fabric weakening communities, and the exploitation of animals and ecosystems has been and continues to be devastating, so much so that, unless we decide to close our eyes and ignore information and signals, We can only accept that the consequences of environmental devastation are overtaking us.
Shantideva explained that self and other beings have the same innate desire to be happy and transcend suffering. Therefore, if we look at it from a spiritual perspective, pursuing our personal interests at the expense of others makes no sense.
Recognizing the right that each being has to be free from suffering can change the way we look at the world and is one of the core parts of spiritual development, since it allows us to realize how if others are happy and satisfied, we too rejoice.
On the other hand, if the others are suffering, we also suffer. In other words, we can thus understand how the interests and well-being of others are intrinsically related to our interests and well-being. In the words of the XV Dalai Lama:
The world becomes smaller and smaller and more and more interdependent. Today more than ever, life must be characterized by a feeling of universal responsibility, not only between nations and humans, but also on the part of humans to other forms of life.
Meditating is definitely very good, but serving others and respecting the right of other beings to be happy and free from suffering, too. Recognize the sacred spark of life in every plant, tree, mountain, animal, insect, and form of nature. Find ways to contribute to the well-being of other beings and thank them for contributing to your spiritual development.
With information from The Path of the Bodhisattva, by Shantideva, and The Buddhism of the Buddha, by Alexandra David Neel.